This week we were asked to open for the latest Reno visit by a Nashville "Christian" band. We had a blast. They were sincere and warm guys. There were worshipful moments and just plain good ol' fashioned fun throughout the evening.
It also served as a potent reminder that while I enjoy a good show, a concert is not by design the same event as a typical Sunday in our churches. This concept is nothing new to most of us, but I have never detailed why I am thankful that the church gathered is not about me. If you believe otherwise as a worship leader, you will find yourself in deep water quickly. Here are 6 reasons I am glad Sundays aren't about me:
1. No one wants to go to the same concert once a week for the foreseeable future.
Comparatively speaking, worship is deeper than entertaining. If a worship leader attempts to entertain your local body, you have an impossible task. Adele, Mumford and Sons, and Brad Paisley all travel from place to place; why do you think you and your Taylor guitar can bear the weight of entertaining your people in one location week after week? The greatest act in the world gets boring eventually.
What if instead the central purpose of Sunday is remembering who Jesus is and what He has done? What if Sunday's platform is solely for you to point like a neon sign at what is already amazing and beautiful, namely Jesus Christ. Now that's a well that doesn't run dry.
2. My emotions are fickle and wavering.
Sure, I feel peaceful/content/godly right now. Give me 5 minutes. Ephesians 4 and James 1 warn against being tossed around like a toy boat on stormy seas between belief and doubt or the gospel and false doctrine. If Sunday is going to be about me, I'm going to need to do the impossible: be consistent in character and attitude with no wavering, no exceptions.
3. In God's economy, I am as bankrupt as those off the stage.
You don't ask homeless people for loans, right? There is only one rich and gracious benefactor on Sunday, and it's not anyone with a microphone. The stage in church has been useful for showing that the preached word is authoritative, and that the people follow the cues of the song leader. It has done damage however, in making us worship leaders believe we are 3 feet closer to God than everyone else.
4. I would surely break under the weight of people's expectations and affections.
People expect too much of music already. I don't need to portray the music set as an opportunity for me or the music to fix anyone. The Spirit moves in times of worship for sure, but we often reinforce the idea that the music itself has healing powers. The primary danger isn't in those that are disappointed with you right away...it's those that believe that the music is healing/fixing/helping them now only to discover later that it stopped "working". That kind of crushing weight will chase us all down. We won't and can't hold it up.
5. The Devil is in the details...and the tuner pedal.
No matter how much I prepare and practice, I can never guarantee perfection musically or technologically. I think the modern church is plagued by an army of technology demons, possessing guitar pedals, severing wires, and busting solder joints for kicks on Saturday nights. Every worship leader knows this, but we still get caught up in the hunger game of achieving the perfect execution. Desiring to execute your service well to avoid distraction, and desiring to execute your service well to feel like you nailed it look the same on the surface. You may even confuse the two yourself. You can't control when that projector bulb calls it quits or when that string breaks every time, so rest in knowing that Jesus has got this.
6. The people of my church don't need another perfect model or mediator.
The one they have works just fine. I don't think it's wise to apply for a position that is already filled. Nobody wins in that scenario. If you stop a moment and watch Him, He is doing a pretty stand up job at it too.