In the Old Testament and up until Acts, there were many different worship songs with the names of the different people; we will call them worship leaders, singing these songs. Some examples include:
- Song of Moses
- Israelites sing a song after their escape in Exodus 15
- Song of David
- Song of Solomon
- Song of Mary
- Song of Zechariah
- Song of Simeon
However, at Pentecost a shift occurs. From then on out there is no mention of worship leaders. It ceases to be the Mary’s, David’s, or Solomon’s leading the crowd in worship. At Pentecost, a new worship leader steps up, the Holy Spirit. Here, God takes worship out of our hands (or man in general) and places it in the hands of the Holy Spirit. Music continues to play an important role for us, but it is God’s Spirit that connects, inspires and conducts! See John 4:7-24.
There are a few concepts we can use to help, or encourage, Spirit-led worship. To help remember them, an acronym is provided:
P – Prepare with the Holy Spirit through Prayer. This is of utmost importance! As it relates to leading worship, do not just throw songs together without prayerful preparation. Ask God what He wants to accomplish in the worship service. Ask God what kind of response He wants the congregation to have. Ask God for songs He wants to use to achieve this response.
* Ezekiel 36:26 --> The Lord will put a new heart and a new spirit in you…a heart of flesh…”And I will put My Spirit in you…”
R – Rely on the Spirit as you lead. Quietly pray during parts of the service where you are not playing. This goes along with the first point, PRAY AS A BAND BEFORE EACH SERVICE. Something that you may want to adopt is stopping practice 20-30 minutes before the service to pray, no matter where you are in the practice. You ask the Lord to lead you and the band members in the direction He wants to go. DO NOT simply run through well-rehearsed songs.
A – Adjust to the Spirit. Keep one eye on the Lord and one eye on the people. In your mind ask yourself: How do we see the Spirit moving? Are they engaged? Are they dancing, or are they weeping? It is probably not a good idea to go into a celebratory song if the Holy Spirit is ministering to people and they are overwhelmed and weeping. You need to be able to see the congregation. Here is the kicker: The Spirit is unpredictable. Just look at the book of Acts.
I – Inspiration of the Spirit. Breathe in the Spirit! Take in what the Spirit is doing. A song may be placed on your heart; a line of Scripture; a chorus or a line of a song that the Lord may want you to transition into. Important: Make room for the inspiration of the Spirit! Again, do not just breeze through well-rehearsed songs. In your preparation time and during the service, be ready and willing for the Holy Spirit to change directions on you.
S – Sing in the Spirit. Don’t force it! If you are sensing that the congregation is still hanging around a song, then it might be a good time to go into spontaneous singing. Try to encourage them that it is a Biblical act; we are trying to find that spiritual song in our hearts. Encourage them that they can start by simply singing the name of Jesus.
E – Edify the church. Is the direction you are going edifying the church? See 1 Corinthians 14.
It is important to communicate with your church leaders to gather their thoughts and opinions. This gives you the chance to explain why you did what you did during the last service, and gives your leaders the chance to tell you where you did well and also tell you where you totally missed it! But please do not be afraid to risk out of fear of failing. If we don’t find ourselves failing, then we aren’t stepping out in faith enough where all we can do is rely on the Holy Spirit. Meet with someone whom you know can hear from and sense the Lord and ask for their input. Also, give your pastor the freedom to come up on stage and whisper in your ear if he/she is sensing the Lord moving in a particular direction.
Please encourage your pastors/leaders to engage in and model worship to the congregation! In addition, your pastor has the responsibility of teaching the congregation who the Holy Spirit is. The people are not going to sing in the spirit and the worship cannot be Spirit-led if the congregation does not know who the Holy Spirit is!
Lastly, worship leaders MUST be filled with the Holy Spirit! Leaders must make room for the Holy Spirit in their daily lives. We must intentionally seek after that regular, daily outpouring of the Spirit.
So, there’s your second session. I will be taking a break from the Sessions over the weekend due to the fact the worship band I play in will be recording a CD in Nashvegas! Stay tuned for more information on that. I will be blogging and posting pictures from this weekend. I am uber excited!
Grace and peace.