Each week, pastors and ministry leaders gather God’s people together to fulfill the Great Commission and invite His people into worship. What is worship? It is declaring by word and deed that God is worthy of our absolute love, total devotion and complete obedience in every aspect of our lives. Although worship is a lifestyle, too often, Christians limit their definition of worship to what we do on a Sunday morning.
Worship is woven into every aspect of our Sunday services; reading the Bible, engaging in prayer, teaching the Word of God and collectively singing hymns and praises through music, however, Christians often further limit their definition of worship to the portion of the morning where music takes center stage. And this is our opportunity!
No matter what your music ministry looks like – choir and orchestra or praise band; traditional or contemporary; small congregation or large – the call is the same. As ministers of the gospel through music, we are called to lead people into the presence of God and strengthen the church in discipling people towards Christ. There are foundational attributes every worship leader must possess to step into and faithfully live out this call.
1. The Mind of Christ
In 1 Corinthians 2, we read that we receive the spirit of God and are taught not by human wisdom, but by the Spirit. To lead others in worship, we must cultivate the mind of Christ. This means we must strive to view the world as Christ does so we live in obedience to Christ and His Word. To do so, we must spend consistent, intentional time with Him to cultivate the mind of Christ.
We can draw closer to Christ through spiritual disciplines, including prayer, fasting, studying Scripture, meditation on His word through journaling, scheduled rest, serving, confession, fellowship and practicing generosity. We also must be in a healthy community and accountability with other believers, inviting the Lord into every aspect of our lives and allowing others to speak His truth where our words and actions are out of alignment.
Consider these questions when determining whether you are leading with the mind of Christ:
Does my mind reflect Christ? Do my actions follow what God’s Word commands?
Do I spend time in God’s Word on a daily basis?
Do I practice spiritual disciplines in my life?
As leaders, we are called to guide the church in obedience and service to Christ. Our ability and effectiveness in leading others flows from the disciplines in our own life. Cultivating our connection to Christ and relying on the Holy Spirit to empower our service to and worship of God, transforms our minds and clears the way for God to move as He designed.
2. A Voice for Discipleship
Colossians 3:16 holds a truth that is essential for us to embrace as worship and music ministers. It says, “Let the message about Christ in all its richness fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom He gives. Sing songs with thankful hearts.” We, as ministers of the gospel, are discipling people. We are using music as a tool to teach God’s Word and communicate His truth to people. Therefore, we must lead with a voice of discipleship.
There is a beauty about music in its ability to help train and educate people. It’s no wonder people who want you to remember something – advertisers using jingles or educators teaching the ABCs – often put it in a song. Similarly, when we apply music to the truths of God, music unites lyrics with a melody that God uses to push past the mind and deep into our heart and soul.
Recently, there have been several articles written about the songs played in churches across America. Research indicates a majority of songs sung on Sunday mornings originate from four dominant mega-church teams. The same research indicates that only a third of worship leaders believe today’s most prevalent worship songs were written with the needs of local churches in mind. For this reason, we must be thoughtful about the music we choose.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to align your voice for discipleship:
Do I know the theology of the songs I lead? Can I connect those to Scripture?
Does my ministry grow great worshippers?
How are the songs chosen?
What truth are we teaching?
We have the responsibility to lead people to worship God, His might and His character. When songs are connected to Scripture, they reinforce God’s truth. It is His truth that guides our churches to commit our hearts in full devotion to Christ, transforming hearts and minds to submit to His will and His purposes.
3. A Heart for Worship
As mentioned before, too often Christians truncate the essence of worship, defining it as an event we attend on Sundays or even further as the first three songs on a Sunday morning. I love what we read in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory.” Worship is the essence of what we DO, not something we attend. It’s a lifestyle!
To follow Christ is to align everything we do for the glory of God. From this perspective, reading the Bible is worship. Giving is worship. Praying is worship. Working with excellence is worship. Serving our community is worship. Investing in our families is worship. Worship is whatever we give worth to and is a testimony to what is important in our lives. And as we learn from Jesus, the condition of our hearts determines where we invest our time and treasure.
As a leader, the condition of your heart is fundamental to leading others in worship. We must cultivate a heart of worship in our lives as we trust God to shape the hearts of his church.
So, what questions can you ask to check your heart?
What are my common expressions of worship?
Am I generous?
Do I have a lifestyle of worship?
Would other people around me say my life reflects worship of Christ?
Ultimately, Sunday morning is a culmination of personal worshippers aligning at a common place and time. As worship and music pastors, we are invited to lead others into this sacred experience. Let’s come back to the heart of worship, and keep Jesus center stage in everything we do.
Music is a powerful tool for worship and can be used as a unique opportunity to lead people into the presence of God and play a pivotal role in discipling hearts to Christ. When done well, music can create an atmosphere of reverence and awe, and can help people to connect with God on a deeper level.
No matter the worship style or approach, the most effective music ministry flows from the same foundation; the spiritual health of the leader. From my work with worship and music pastors across Georgia, the most effective music ministry begins with leaders who commit themselves to lives of full devotion and worship as reflected in the attributes discussed here. This is our call. We are called to worship and lead others. We are here to equip and support you to make worship an integral part of your church’s ministry.
Would you like to lead your students to go deeper into these foundational attributes? Check out Student Worship Weekend coming up January 19 & 20, 2024.
Published November 3, 2023