Stage presence is important, but not of primary importance for worship leaders.
Stage presence is important, but not of primary importance for worship leaders. (Facebook )

Stage presence. It's a conversation that excites some and infuriates others. Some pay attention to it; others don't seem to care.

Truth is, you can't afford to ignore it.

But let's set the record straight. Your stage presence is important, but not of primary importance.

Just as your talent doesn't force the Holy Spirit's hand, neither does your boundless energy. He isn't waiting for your voice to hit high notes, your team to sing certain songs or your stage energy to reach higher levels of insanity.

God isn't waiting for you to develop better musicians, use Ableton Live, record a live album of original songs and get booked for youth events around the country.

Here's the reality: The Holy Spirit is present, ready and moving—no matter what.

He is going to work His wonders. Jesus has made a way for us sinners to have access to the presence of God. When God sees us on Sunday, He sees the righteousness of His Son, not the imperfections we brought on ourselves.

God will move.

God is moving.

We don't "usher" people into His presence. His presence is there.

We don't "bring heaven down." Heaven has come to Earth.

We don't have a "stronger anointing" than this or that worship leader.

Than what do we do? If we're not that important, what value does our excellence and our stage presence bring? Let's back up.

The Ideal Worship Service

Think about your ideal, corporate worship service. We've all seen and led enough terrible ones to know what works and what doesn't. What comes to mind?

  • People singing
  • Hands in the air
  • The presence of God
  • Engagement
  • Unity
  • Theological integrity in our songs

Maybe you can think of a few others. While we don't want to give too much credit to a worship team, a skilled worship team helps people engage in the story God is already telling.

Let's break down this statement:

1.Skilled – A worship team develops skills. They don't rely on pure randomness and spontaneity. They practice, both personally and as a team. They develop an intuitive sense on their instrument so they can look beyond it and lead people. Discipline, practice and boring skill development prepares a team for those moments when the Holy Spirit is moving.

2. Helps People – A worship team is more pastoral than artistic. We help people, not simply perform for them or try to impress them. We aren't in the business of stirring up brief emotional highs. Our job is to help people worship. They are the focus. The more people we connect with God, the better.

3. Engage – People engage in activities they feel comfortable with. They need to trust the leader. Without this trust, there is hesitation. Why do fans go crazy at an arena rock show? They trust the band. They know the songs. They feel comfortable losing themselves in the moment. This is what keeps a lot of teams from seeing the full potential of their worship services. They are timid, shy, held back and nervous. Nerves beget nerves. Timidity begets timidity. But when a team is engaging and confident, a congregation is engaging and confident.

So what value does your stage presence bring? You help people engage. Your worship on stage gives people permission to do the same. It helps break the awkwardness. It's an invitation to step into what God is already doing.

So step out. Lead. Stop calling your insecurity humility. Be the leader God has called you to be.

Tell me about your team. How is your stage presence and energy? Does your team worship? Does your team lead? Please comment below.

David Santistevan is a worship pastor at Allison Park Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

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