As a pastor, you set the tone for true corporate worship.
Every pastor wants to raise up a group of people who God considers true worshipers. Jesus defined these people in John 4:23 as those who "worship the Father in spirit and truth." He even added that these are the ones after whom the Father seeks.
We have the chance to cultivate these kinds of worshipers every Sunday in our services by how we lead. Whether you are a senior pastor or a worship leader, you serve as a model for true worship. You play a key role in creating an environment that is conducive to the moving of God's Spirit. To excel at both of these requires some understanding of what I believe are fundamental principles of congregational worship.
• "Worship time" is not a setup for the sermon. If we're not careful we can develop a dangerous mind-set that believes the praise and worship part of a service functions merely to prepare the congregation for the preaching. Though preparing people for the message can certainly be one benefit of a good "worship time" (and I use that term begrudgingly), it must not be its primary purpose.
A healthy, worshiping congregation recognizes that when members come to worship—both individually and corporately—they are truly entering the presence of God, presenting themselves to the Lord and making their hearts vulnerable to His voice, conviction, healing and guidance. To worship in this way is an end in itself, not simply a means to something else.
• The senior pastor is the senior worship leader. When we look at spiritual leaders in Scripture—whether it's King David in his palace or Paul in prison—we see that they were unashamed worshipers. A senior pastor must lead not only with words, but also by modeling whole-hearted, unreserved worship. A congregation will follow its pastor. Remember David's example: "David danced before the Lord with all his might ... wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet" (2 Sam. 6:14-15). Ministering to the Lord in worship, with inward fervency and outward demonstration, is one of the most potent expressions of leadership a shepherd can make.
• The worship leader and senior pastor must demonstrate one heart. These two leaders usually influence a service more than any others. So it's no surprise that the vital relationship between these two servants is a primary target for the enemy. If the pastor is exercising ungodly control or if the worship leader is operating with sinful ambition, the enemy will exploit these weaknesses and wreck havoc in the body.
They must have clear lines of communication and spend time together in prayer. The worship leader should demonstrate an attitude of support for the senior pastor. If he cannot, then he has a responsibility to take a break from ministry until the relationship is restored. Likewise, if the senior pastor has serious concerns about the worship leader's character or behavior, it is the pastor's responsibility to curtail that person's public ministry, no matter how gifted or anointed the worship leader may be.
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