Worship Leaders, Congregations, and Americans (updated)

Last week as I was read this blog, more specifically I started reading this great article by a guy I really like and respect, though I have never met him personally. And I thought that this is definitely a conversation that needs to keep happening.

The article, and probably more importantly, the comment dialogue is quite interesting to me. It represents a lot of the problems that we encounter as leaders, especially of music, in the church. In short, he addresses the issue that worship leaders often seem to be told that they shouldn’t “tell people what to do” while lead pastors do all the time without the same hostile response from congregants. I find this conversation, as I have encountered it a few times, quite disturbing. It comes back to this need to be in control. But in this case, our feeling that no one especially that music guy should tell us what to do. I mean, “He gets paid *or not* to lead the music, riiiiiight? Not tell us how to worship, pffft.”

This is largely an American thing. And, I’m American. So, before anyone gets huffy puffy about it, take a second. America is built on the rights to do and be anything you want. To live out YOUR dream, to achieve YOUR goals, to satisfy YOUR wants and needs. Although I am sure their are a few other countries/cultures that we could pick on, we won’t right now. The post was from an American, the comments mostly American (I assume), and my feelings about someone telling me what to do or not do come from being an American.

You see, while living in Korea, I never once had someone come up to me or any of my other fellow worship leaders and say that they were offended that a worship leader called them to raise their hands. Anyone has yet to approach me to say that the spirit was clearly not leading me correctly because the spirit told them to keep their hands down. You see, we usually refrain from doing things because we don’t feel comfortable, we don’t like it, we can’t be bothered to raise our hands that long (we didn’t work out recently).

I’m preaching to the choir though, I know. Telling a bunch of leaders this seems ridiculous, right? So why do I even bother to bring it up?

We must build a culture of let-go! Leaders, we must build a culture of teaching and learning. People have to be taught. People have to be taught that selfishness is not the way of the church. People have to be taught that, despite their deepest desire to be lazy, to not engage, to withdraw from a place of intimacy, they must take risks. They have to get out of their boxes, and they must certainly get away from their comfort zones.

I believe that so much of what the church in America and elsewhere lacks in effectiveness is because they are so wrapped up in their pursuit of their own comforts. In America, it’s easy to give a little and tell yourself you’re sacrificing. Again, I am from America and see it engrained in my EVERYDAY LIFE.

Let me leave you with these couple last words.

The sooner you get out of your comfort zone, the sooner you will encounter all the ways God has been working that you never even imagined. This is both in your personal life and in your churches life. As soon as a group of believers comes together to simply live a life of abandon for the kingdom of God, now that’s a dangerous church. A church that is gonna do some spiritual damage. They will see God radically changing peoples lives, cities, and countries.

Asia is exploding right now and you probably didn’t even know it. Asia doesn’t complain that the worship leader asked them to lift their hands when they clearly don’t want to, cause they never don’t want to (there are conservative churches here BTW, but even the conservative churches tend to be zealous for the Lord… through prayer, devotionals, etc.). Know your people, and lead them accordingly, but never hold back because you’re afraid. Zeal for the Lord is worth so much for the kingdom, don’t miss out because you “didn’t feel like it.”

In the end it’s not about raising hands, or dancing, or what ever else the leader might tell people to do, but getting over this need for control and letting God work in our lives. And, instead of complaining that people won’t do things when you ask, or complaining that the worship leader asked you to do something, why don’t we pray that people would truly encounter the Holy Spirit in a way that causes us to respond!

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