Lights dim, an energetic drum beat begins, and the congregation is on their feet. I’m starting to feel the music, let go of my week, and worship.
Then out of nowhere I am ripped out of my reverie.
“LET’S ALL PUT OUR HANDS TOGETHER! WE LOVE YOU, JESUS!”
Y’know what drives me crazy during worship? Too much instruction. I hate being told to put my hands together or raise my hands in the air. In fact, if you tell me to do any of those things, I’m likely to be stubborn and stuff my hands in my pockets. I’ll show you…
In all seriousness, I really don’t want to be told how to worship. I just want an atmosphere created that will allow me to worship. Get us started, then step back and let the Holy Spirit work. Let the music (or rather the Spirit) move me, not the words of your mouth. If you want to clap because the song is upbeat and energetic, then by all means, clap. I might even join in. If you feel the Spirit moving and want to raise your hands, go right ahead. Just don’t tell me to. Raising hands is not a way I worship. I’m not any less of a Christian because of it. Now I just look like a rebellious heathen because I’m the only one with their hands not raised to the heavens.
I was reading Stuff Christians Like recently; about raising your hands in worship. I was chuckling my way through the post and comments. I ran across a comment from a worship leader that stated that she was one of “those” worship leaders who rarely talked.
Another commenter posted this in response to her comment:
“Rarely talking is great! I am there to be in communion with God, not me and God and the worship leader. Ours thinks he is contributing when he is really interfering. His heart is in the right place but Jesus is our priest, we don’t need anyone else to lead us to His presence. I prefer a Music Director, The Spirit is the worship leader.”
I remember years ago, first starting out as a worship leader. I was young, naive, and impressionable. I took my lead from other worship leaders and did what I saw them do. I felt like I was supposed to spout out worship directions; or at the very least, some thoughtful, holy words, such as, “We love You, Jesus… we worship You, Jesus…” But anytime I tried, it felt forced; unnatural.
A dear friend of mine and fellow worship leader introduced me to the “strong, silent” type of worship leader. During the music, she didn’t say anything. Not one word. She would invite the congregation to stand and join in worship, and that was it. Then she merely played the music and sang. No instructions, no holier than thou words. Just the music. She led the congregation by example.
At first, this felt a bit weird. There are awkward instrumental parts where it felt like there needed to be some filler. I got so used to being told what to do, and now there was silence. It was uncomfortable. Soon, I realized I was being given freedom to worship as I wanted to.
This is the kind of worship leader I evolved into. It’s not my style to shout instructions. I merely introduce the song, sing it as simply as I can (I try very hard to control any vocal aerobics that emerge from my vocal cords), and let the congregation worship as they desire.
It just seems more natural that way.