You have been planning for this 30 minute worship set all week. (Well, it has been in the Planning Center Matrix for about a month because you are “preparing” like you should.) Now that time is up and the worship set is over, you can’t help but to reflect on how it went. After years of leading worship, I have noticed a general pattern to my “post worship leading analysis”. My common thoughts can be summed up in 3 resolutions.
1. I Didn’t Spend Enough Time
2. I Wasn’t Given Enough Time
3. I Spent a Lot of Time
I Didn’t Spend Enough Time
I didn’t spend enough time preparing specifically for the assignment given. I once heard someone say… “The scariest thing about doing what you do, is that you can learn how to do it.” You can learn what to say, when to say it, how to sing, and what to sing. The recipe has been mixed, and the cake has been baked. Now that the cake is eaten, you find that God has planned pie. We as worship leaders must prepare like we don’t know what is going to happen. If we say God wants to do something unique, we need to prepare like we expect the unexpected.
Not only should we be spending time preparing musically for the assignment, but we should also be making sure we are spending time alone with God. When time with God is not apart of our preparation routine, we can find ourselves in the midst of “leading worship” looking for Him instead of pointing to Him.
I Wasn’t Given Enough Time
What a great excuse. I mean sometimes you just don't have enough time allotted to get everything you want in. But your responsibility is to know how to express and communicate the musical word of God no matter the circumstances.
I’m sorry to tell you, but if you are preparing spiritually and musically, you will never have enough time. If you’re allotted 12 minutes or 45 minutes, (and I have been given these numbers, and everything in between) you will always either be hungry for more, or see more things that you believe God wants to do. No matter if the time given is from the Pastor, the agenda of the day, or simply what I like to call “gravity” (the practical reality that eventually you will have to get up from your time with God and continue your day), there will never be enough time when you’re spending it with the Father.
What is our response to this dilemma? You have been asked and trusted to lead worship because you are qualified to do so. Qualified usually means that you have knowledge beyond the assignment that you are given. For example: an expert who has been asked to share on a specific topic in their field will usually ask “how long would you like me to speak?“ When they are given the time frame, they prepare in order to make that time allotted as effective as ever possible. We as worship leaders must prepare the same way. We know how to prepare a set when we have 30 minutes; we know how to work a set when we can put 4 songs in. But do we know how to communicate Christ with smaller amounts of time?
In a set of 4 songs, hopefully, all 4 songs has a specific purpose with a certain journey in mind. If time only allows 2 songs and a scripture, we must strategize for that journey. Preparation does not make the feeling of not having enough time go away, but it does help knowing that you have served your best according to the assignment.
I Spent A Lot of Time…
Finally, our response at times after a worship set is that you want more time because you have “Spent A Lot of Time” with God in worship and His word at home during the week. This tension is a positive response from you preparing as you should. For when you have prepared well, God always gives you more than what the assignment requires. For He fills you up so much, that when you are pouring out, you still have leftovers. These “leftovers” cry out for more; more of God, His voice, His Presence. That “tension” to want more is a ministry in and of itself spreading a thirst for more across the body you are ministering to. Allow that desire for more to permeate the congregation prayerfully creating a hunger to carry worship with them throughout the week.
So what do we do? We’ve worshiped, we’ve analyzed- now what? Worship Leaders, just keep leading. We are helping people find their words to speak to the heavenliness and we want to communicate Christ the best way possible. If you can relate to my common analysis, allow the tension to stretch you and your worship leading style. Keep reflecting, keep leading, keep the faith.