Why Leading Worship Includes the Whole Band
by Stephen Miller
There are few things more confusing to me than watching a worship team standing on the platform, and seeing the face of a worship leader who has all of his being in engaged in worship of God.
But then as I survey the rest of the team, I see a bass player with a too-cool-for-school scowl on his face or a guitar player with a sheepishly bewildered or bored look on his face. Or a keys player whose face is completely expressionless, glued to a sheet of music.
They are all worshiping the same God, right?
As believers, we are all leaders of worship.
Whether standing on the platform or in the congregation, we are all collectively encouraging one another to enter into the kind of full heart, mind, soul and strength demonstration of adoration that our God desires.
This is magnified from the platform. As the privilege of influence increases, so does the responsibility of leadership. That is not confined to vocalists.
The “worship leader” is not the only one leading worship. Bass players … keys players … drummers … guitarists … you’re leading worship too.
Because of the various religious and cultural backgrounds the people in our churches are coming from, the need for unapologetic demonstration of “all in” worship from the platform becomes increasingly important.
Many people are longing to express this type of worship, but are simply looking for permission. Others have been burned by disorderly displays of emotional hype and need to see this done in a genuine, authentic and helpful way. Still others have never had a point of reference for this and need to see it for themselves and be coached along.
No matter where our people are on the spectrum, it is imperative that everyone on the platform is putting forth every effort to serve and lead them.
Here are three simple ways to do this more effectively.
1. Sing Loudly.
No believer with a voice is exempt from the scriptural call to sing the praises of God loudly.
So even if you’re playing bass or keys or any other instrument — sing along! Not only will this enhance your own experience of worshiping God as you meditate on the truth of the lyrics you are singing, but you will also visibly demonstrate to the congregation the value of singing out loud the praises of God.
You don’t have to have a mic or even a good voice, but as you play your instrument, belt it out with all you’ve got!
2. Smile Big.
Your countenance says a ton about how you feel about God.
For example, if you look bored, you are communicating that God is boring. It makes no sense to sing about how great and awesome God is with a smoldering scowl on your face.
On the other hand, if you are delighting in God, people will see it in your countenance and know that God is a God to be delighted in. I’m not saying fake a cheesy grin, but I am saying, let your enjoyment of God show.
Obviously you should use wisdom … For example, if you’re singing a lament of repentance, a smile might not be fitting, but let your countenance reflect what you are singing.
3. Show Adoration.
True adoration is not limited to our songs and our faces. The idea of loving God with all your strength is using your entire body to express adoration to God.
So while you are likely to have your hands occupied for the majority of the songs, try to find moments to raise your hands and worship in other full-body-type ways. You are an example for the church of what is appropriate expression of praise, adoration and thanksgiving to God.
So don’t just stand there petrified like a statue — move around.
Musicians, we are on the platform to worship and lead worship, not just to play music. So let’s do everything we can to do this well for the glory of Christ.
Questions for reflection:
As a church musician, do you see yourself as a leader of worship? Why or why not?
As a musician seeking to lead your congregation in worship, are there things you would add to this list?