It might appear to anyone reading some of my last posts that I don’t spend a lot of time in worship actually worshipping. I direct the service, seeking to use my gifts and abilities to help others worship. I deal with interruptions either by ignoring them or working around them. I am generally at least one step ahead of the congregation–while we are singing one hymn, I am making sure that I have the next one marked and ready.
And in some ways, it is true–I am not actually doing much that seems like worship. But when I remember the times I have been able to attend English language worship services as a worship participant, I discover something interesting. Often, when I am just attending worship, I am less connected to the worship than when I am leading it. I am less conscious of the flow of the service; I am less involved in the process; I have less sense of the other participants; I focus less on what is being said and done and I am less tuned in with the music.
That might indicate that I have some spiritual difficulties. And that is probably true–like every other believer, I am not perfect and have lots of stuff that needs God’s help to make it better. But I think when it comes to worship, I may not be doing as badly as I sometimes think I am doing.
For me, the point of worship is to help us re-connect with God. God is present and active in our lives all the time but in the hectic, stressed and busy lives most of us lead, we lose sight of God. We might feel that he has gone away but he is still present and active–we are simply not willing or able to focus on him. Worship, both private and public, provides us with the chance to open our eyes and see the reality of the presence of God.
My job as the worship leader is to help people make this reconnection. As I design worship, I am looking at how best to enable the people I serve remember the reality of God’s presence in their lives. I choose Scriptures to enable this; I help select music to facilitate the connection; I develop prayers to help open hearts and minds to God; I prepare sermons to touch those things which will bring the awareness of God to the front.
And in the process of all this, I am offering myself to God to be used by him in the process of helping others worship. As I stand at the front and announce hymns and read Scriptures and lead prayers and preach sermons, I am working hard–but I am also conscious of the deep and powerful reality that I am leading God’s people in their worship of him and the only way I can do that is if I am willing to submit myself to him in the process.
My worship experience is different from that of the people I lead–but it is still worship. I am recognizing the presence of God and my need of him in the process of leading others in worship. That is probably why I struggle when I am simply a participant in worship. I am out of my element. I haven’t had enough experience being a lay person in worship.
For now, I am the worship leader, responsible for leading others in the process of reconnecting with the God who never left. I am also responsible for my own worship, seeking to make sure that as I lead others, I am worshipping through remembering that I need God’s help to do what he has called me to do.
Someday, I will need to learn how to worship like the people I am leading. I am planning on retiring someday and will then be someone sitting in the pews seeking an opportunity to reconnect with God. At that point, I will become a student, learning how to do what others have been doing for years. But for now, I offer to God my time, gifts and abilities to be used through the power of the Holy Spirit to help others worship God. For now, this is my act of worship.
May the peace of God be with you.