Are You Leading Worship or Entertaining?

My brother travels across the country, ministering in a variety of churches, and I have the blessing of traveling with him. There are times, though, that I look around and think, Something is missing.

A few years ago, I was beginning to worry about myself. I felt like I was becoming one of those stodgy old women who refuses to accept modern praise and worship music, because they are not hymns. Now don’t get me wrong. I love hymns and am saddened by the fact that many young people (if not most) will never know the lyrics that have stood the test of time. But I finally realized that my objection is not so much the songs that are sung (although some leave much to be desired); it is the way they are sung.

People complain about the old 7/11 songs but, today, churches introduce songs that are not only shallow; they were not written to be sung by a congregation. They may be great for a praise & worship singer to sing in concert, but they are very difficult for people to sing along with.

Often on Sunday mornings, I am tired. Especially if I’ve been on my feet at a convention all weekend, Sundays can be very hard. I rely on God’s strength to get me through the day, and I look forward to worshiping with His people, but some weeks, I don’t really get that.

There are exceptions, of course. Some churches are full of the presence of the Lord the moment we arrive. It’s obvious the people there love the Lord and each other, and they are eager to see what God is going to do in their midst. This is what the Church should look like.

I would love to see more churches do a mixture of hymns and praise and worship songs. The key to worship is singing songs that honor our Lord while focusing on Him, not the people around us. At the same time, the leader must be in tune with those around him or her. Are they singing? Praying? Worshiping? Or are they merely watching? The difference between a worship service and a concert is that the former should not be a performance. It is not a contest of vocal or musical ability. It is the gift of seeing those who have had a rough week, who are discouraged, who wonder why they are even there, and leading them into the presence of the Lord. Once there, they can leave their burdens at the altar and better hear the message God desires to speak to them.

A true worship leader is just as important as a pastor who preaches the Word without compromise. Together, they will help to build a church that God can use in a mighty way.

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Sony Elise

Sony has been an avid southern gospel fan since she first heard The Happy Goodman Family on a cassette in the mid-1980s. She is the co-founder of Family Renewal and the owner of Sony Elise Editing Services.

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  1. Reply March 06, 18:04 #1 Jerry Boor

    You are so right, Sony! Many of the churches have basically turned over the worship service to strictly youth-oriented worship leaders who don’t always excel in music ability. The timing of the songs is often off, they don’t hold notes out properly, chopping them off, poor enunciation, music always drowning out vocals, I could go on and on. I love all kinds of music style-wise, but like you, songs for congregational worship should be somewhat easy to sing and not have weird timing, etc. Variety would be so welcome by many of us! I was brought up in a small church in which just about everyone in the congregation sang and made a joyful noise. Both my wife and I long for those days to return, not to give up some of the modern sounds of worship, but to return to an excellence in our worship that is way beyond just noise.

  2. Reply March 07, 07:35 #2 JimT

    I don’t know where we got the idea that music is the “worship” portion of the service. The term “song leader ” used to suffice, and to me it is much more accurate. The entire service, including the offering, is worship, and the pastor is the true worship leader. I do agree, though, that much of the praise music is poorly written, both lyrically and musically, and should have no part of our service. If the Old Testament descriptions of the tabernacle teach anything it is that God expects excellence (to the best of our ability) in our worship.

    • Reply March 07, 10:04 bravesfan513

      That term “worship leader” has always bothered me, too. The Holy Spirit should be the worship leader, with the Pastor being his “second in command,” so to speak. You are right on that music is only a portion of the worship service.

  3. Reply April 10, 21:41 #3 nber

    I couldn’t agree more!

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