Honest worship of the one true God is not the natural state of human behavior. Our normal course of activity doesn’t lead us to approach the Lord and respond in worship. Our typical behavior does not lend itself, primarily, to praise God.
In a way there are too many barriers between us and our worship of God. Some of these barriers are spiritual – sin and distractions. Some of these barriers are personal – bad relationships and arguments with loved ones. Some of the barriers are just the structure of our lives – we’re too busy, too fast, or too shallow.
Worship leaders, one of your opportunities in Sunday morning worship is to help break down some of these barriers.
You can help break down three barriers to worship before you even play a single note on Sunday morning.
Pray together with your whole team.
If you aren’t already praying together with your worship team, start. If you’re only spending time with your musicians, invite your audio, projection, and lighting team to join you while you pray. They are part of the team, helping to lead people in worship on Sunday morning. So invite them to be part of your prayer time together.
Breaking down barriers between musicians and techs has always been and will always be a challenge because of personalities, communication styles, and misunderstandings. But bringing your whole team together for prayer is a pretty easy way to start breaking down some of those barriers.
What should you pray for? Pray that God’s glory would be seen and known through the service. Pray for the people coming to your church. Pray for your pastor who will be preaching on Sunday. Pray for one another, that God would be glorified through your serving and your working together.
Break down barriers between your musicians and your techs by praying together as a whole team.
Get out of the green room.
I’m not sure how many churches actually have a green room or a backstage room for their musicians, but if you are leading people in worship during the service, be with the people before the service. I cannot stress this enough.
We’ve structured our Sunday morning so that all our run throughs and sound checks are finished 30 minutes before the service begins. That gives us time to walk through the auditorium and have conversations with people arriving early. Not only does this break down any kind of barrier between the congregation and the band, it actually helps build up trust between you and the congregation when you step on stage in a few minutes to lead them in worship.
Don’t allow a backstage room to build a barrier between the band and the congregation. Spend time before each service meeting people, shaking hands, having quick conversations, and letting them know you are excited they are there – and excited about what God will do during your time together.
Actively break down the barrier between the band and the congregation before the service even starts.
Call the people to worship.
Worship is familiar but not automatic. Never assume the congregation knows why they have gathered, what they are about to do, or who they should be focusing on as you sing, pray, and speak words of worship and praise.
Many of our churches have swung the pendulum so hard against “institutional church” and liturgy that we have left out many helpful parts of the worship service. The aspect of liturgy I miss most is the call to worship. It can play a very significant role in our contemporary church services.
I remember visiting a church after the birth of one of my daughters. I didn’t know anyone. I was exhausted. I was on my own. I wanted to be led in worship without distractions. I wanted to increase and expand my view of God and get fired up to continue serving Him.
As the service began, a young woman walked out with a microphone and simply stated, “Good morning, welcome to our church. Let’s stand and worship.”
That was it.
She assumed so much. She assumed we were ready. She assumed we were focused. She assumed the barrier of distraction and tiredness and apathy had already been broken. They hadn’t. She did nothing to call us to worship.
Take time during the week and really think about the first thing you’ll say on Sunday morning as your service begins. Call the congregation. Remind them what we are about to do.
Call your people to worship and break down the barrier of distraction and focus.
Worship leaders – you have an incredible opportunity. You’ve been given the gift of reminding people of the goodness, grace, mercy, and majesty of God through music. You’ve been given a platform in your church to put these words in the mouths of your people and to hear them sing back these praises to God. What a privilege.
Some of you are frustrated, fed up, and ready to throw in the towel. Don’t give up. Rethink some of these potential barriers and make some small changes. Small changes make big differences. You can break down barriers before you even play one note on Sunday morning.