Wikipedia says, “Fear of missing out or FoMO is “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent”. This social angst is characterized by “a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing”.
I think worship leaders can get weighed down with FoMO. There is this subtle voice in the back of the worship leader’s mind that suggests there is new music and it needs to be sung this week. There is a fear of missing out on the most current worship songs. “If I don’t use this song that (popular Christian artist) released this week, then people are going to leave and go to the church that did.” Or, “If I don’t use this song that (mega church) used last week then people are going to feel like we aren’t relevant anymore.”
Or perhaps the actual fear is not being able to post to social media that you were on the cutting edge of using that song first?
Instead, I feel our call is to select songs pastorally. What does that mean? That means that songs are selected for worship that will reflect and meet the needs of the people who are actually assembled with you. Which is different than selecting songs for the sake of staying ahead of a trend. Our call is to lay down our preferences and lift up others preferences for the sake of the church being the embodied hands and feet of Jesus in the world.
Jared C. Wilson has a post about 10 phrases that worship leaders need to avoid. I do my best to not say these things because they get under my skin when I hear others say them. For the most part they are theologically weak and hype-inducing babble-speak. Especially cringe-worthy is “God showed up.” As if the God of heaven and earth could be controlled or summoned by an incantation.
What is the alternative to babbling like a hype jockey? I am a fan of beginning worship and connecting moments in worship using short, scriptural phrases that center our heart and mind. Here are a few examples of what you could say instead:
Sing to the LORD a new song! (Psalm 96:1)
I will sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. (Exodus 15:1)
Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. (1 Chronicles 16:9)
Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. (1 Chronicles 16:23)
Sing the praises of the LORD, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. (Psalm 30:4)
Taste and see that the LORD is good. (Psalm 34:8)
But as for me, it is good to be near God. (Psalm 73:28)
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. (Psalm 146:2)
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8)
Jonathan (@worshipbassist) provided some great questions for any worship team, choir, or band. They would make good fodder for a retreat or workshop. You could also dissect them individually during rehearsals.
1. How do we remain humble in up front ministry?
2. How do you deal with conflict in your band?
3. What role does serving play in worship ministry?
4. How do you choose people to serve in your worship ministry?
5. How do you prepare and/or select songs for a worship set?
6. How can a worship leader help the band succeed? (From Band’s Perspective)
7. What does a great worship/band leader look like? (From Band’s Perspective)
Who is really leading worship during a service or gathering? I would say the Holy Spirit, the pastor, and the worship musicians (in order of priority).
The Holy Spirit is always the first and most important leader of worship. The Spirit’s preparation and work began long before the service was a twinkling in our eye. Before the first text or song is chosen, the Spirit is aligning the elements and people that will be included in the service. We need the Holy Spirit to point all the elements in a service to Jesus. The Spirit’s presence in the midst of a service is always the default leader. When the Spirit moves, we follow.
The pastor is always the second most important lead worshiper in a service or gathering. That’s right – the Holy Spirit does come before (and sometimes through!) the pastor. The pastor is the spiritual leader for the entire congregation, and this includes the congregation in worship. Just because you’ve got the guitar or mic doesn’t mean everyone is watching/following you. The pastor will always set the tone for worship in any setting. If the pastor’s heart and mind are engaged in the songs, prayers, and texts, then the people will be as well. If the pastor is shuffling through sermon notes, making small talk with the ushers, or not singing, then the people will be equally disengaged in worship.
The worship musicians are the next most important leaders in worship. Notice that “musicians” is plural. All who play instruments or sing are on equal ground. If you are on the platform in front of the people, you are just as important as anyone else in front. The lead vocalists aren’t elevated higher than the bass player. Being a worship musician requires a good dose of humility. 1 Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” Although the spotlights may shine on the musicians, it’s important to remember that everyone is following the pastors cues, and nothing is possible without the Spirit’s work.
Understanding the biblical role of a worship leader in the local church is central to the health of a church body. While the task of leading people in worship is outlined in varying ways, the implementation and function of the modern “worship leader” isn’t found anywhere in the New Testament. What we do find is that pastors or elders are mandated with the job of leading the people in worship. For example, 2 Chronicles 7:6 describes priests leading David and Israel in worship. This tells us that the primary function of a worship leader should be pastor, not just artist.