I believe worship leaders have one of the most difficult ministries in the church on a Sunday morning. There is a lot of pressure on a worship leader, albeit much of it is self imposed, but nonetheless there is pressure. Some of this pressure comes in the form of discouragement as they look out over a zombie-like congregation who can hardly seem to manage an "amen" let alone sing the praises of God. I would like to take a moment to encourage the worship leader and the worshipper to a new and hopefully refreshing line of thought.
I have, in the past, heard a frustration expressed by some that it often takes two or three songs to get many in the congregation into the "grove" of worship. The idea is that the Christian should come in ready to worship and that they would certainly be more prepared if they walked closer to God all week. I must admit that I have sometimes subscribed to that line of thinking and it is certainly not without merit. It is true that the only time some people in the church spend time with God is in the church. However, I don't believe that is true of all those who don't rush into a spirit of worship at the first song.
In the Song of Solomon chapter 5, Solomon's wife is recalling a situation that happened between her and her husband that caused a bit of a rift between them one night. In verse 9 the other women of the palace ask her what makes Solomon so great as compared to other men and she goes on to praise her husband and all that he means to her. By the time she is done with her praises she's completely excited! The significance of this is that only a few verses ago (verse 3) she was so preoccupied and tired that she couldn't muster the strength to spend time with her husband. Now, at the end of the chapter, there's nothing that could keep her away from him.
The lesson here is that Christians (even ones who walk daily with God) can be beaten down over the week by all kinds of pressures. They may come into a Sunday worship service feeling like they have nothing left with which to give God. So much preoccupies their mind and they are weary from a long week. Then, as the sounds of worship begin and the words exclaiming God's greatness start to be sung, something begins to change. It may start out with the individual only mouthing the words he or she sees upon the screen but as the song ends and the next praise begins the child of God is being reminded of how great the Lord is and what an awesome God they serve. By the third song the troubles of the week are melting away and and the heavy laden Christian is starting to feel like worshipping. By the last song there is nothing that can stand in their way of reaching the Lord and spending time with Him.
Am I suggesting then that we need longer song services to allow for this process? Not at all. What I am pointing out is the importance of the song service in preparing the heart for the rest of worship and what God wants to impart to an individual that Sunday. Worship is about God, but it often benefits our ability to draw near to Him.
So to the worship leader I say, be encouraged. The next time you look out over a less than enthusiastic crowd at the start of the song service, realize the vital role you play in moving them out of that and focusing them on the greatness of God. The Lord is using you to remind them of Him!
To the worshipper in the congregation I say, be encouraged. If your week was rough and another looks like it is on its way, worship as you have opportunity to do so. You may not feel like it at first, but as you exercise control over your emotions and begin to worship you will start to remember the greatness of God above all your woes and then the "feelings" of worship will come!
Sometimes we need to worship in order to worship.