As someone who teaches worship leading all around the world, I am frequently asked some worship leading holy cows… in other words, controversial questions. Many of these are things that are dear to the heart of many worship leaders, or things that they have been taught are truths, but the reality is that they are not.
So, in the name of a bit of good natured butchery and possibly a barbeque with some yummy steaks, I want to slay a few of the Holy Cows we worship leaders hold near and dear.
We must do the Latest Songs
In an effort to be current, hip, groovy and cutting edge, we always want to do the latest songs from the latest CDs. I like many of the latest songs, but our calling as worship leaders is not to teach new songs but to lead people in worship. By all means, do new songs, but sprinkle them through your service and surround them with songs people know and love.
Would you rather be cutting edge or lead anointed, powerful and life changing worship?
We have to do songs as they are arranged on the CD or YouTube
This one, frankly, is a really stupid Holy Cow, worthy of barbequing… Even the band that recorded the CD you are trying to emulate does it differently a month down the track! If you love the CD version so much, just put it on and have your congregation sing to that.
You are better to make the song your own! Start with what the CD does, then change it so your band and your style is represented, and your team is creating beautiful music (depending on how good your team might be!)
We have to have a session of open or free worship
Do we? I mean, I love free worship and I love when the Holy Spirit takes over, but most of what I have ever heard has been forced rather than the Holy Spirit taking control, and I think if we are totally honest, we have all been guilty of this at some time.
Once you have experienced a true move of the Spirit, the fake version just seems, well… faked! Are you brave enough to have a worship time without free worship? If you are, then you can reserve free worship for the times when it truly is free, no coerced! I know, radical thought, but it is another Holy Cow we cling to that needs to be barbequed!
We have to do all the songs we have planned
We start with a list of songs we want to do in our service, and we go through them no matter what like they are a Holy Calling! We need to butcher this cow as well, because a truly anointed worship leader has to be flexible, and also has to be listening to the Holy Spirit, not the worship leading holy cows!
OK, start with a play list, that’s fine. But it is not written in blood! It is not Holy Scripture! Be ready to change and be open to listen, to read your congregation and adjust as the Spirit leads you.
So if a song is going great, do an extra chorus or two. If it is going poorly, or going nowhere, if people are checking their cell phones rather than singing, bail out and move to the next song. I doesn’t mean it is a bad song, it’s just not what is happening that morning.
And it you go too long, don’t finish your list of songs, finish the worship service. Going overtime without permission from the pastor is dishonouring to your leadership, the congregation and even the Lord. Keep to time, even if you have to cut a song or two!
So, after slaying these Holy Cows, I hope that worship leaders are open to the Holy Spirit and ready to follow Him into the most anointed and powerful worship your church has ever experienced. Worship leaders, follow the Holy Spirit, not the worship leading Holy Cows!