Monthly Archives: August 2012

Worship Leaders And Social Media

And so I find myself writing this epistle again.  I wrote it two nights ago and clicked the wrong button and lost the whole thing.  It’s a shame because I was really happy with the way it turned out.  Let’s see if I can remember my key points.

I have led worship in churches and camp meetings for over twenty years.  I’ve done paid gigs, I’ve done volunteer gigs for the sheer joy of playing, and everything else in-between.  At the present time, I’m the Creative and Technological Ministries Lead at Evangel Church in Oshawa.  I have an office.  I have business cards.  I’m on salary.  I’m living in “my element” 24/7 and really there’s no higher calling for me.  There’s nothing left on my occupational bucket list.  This is “it” for me.  I love what I do and if I ever had to stop doing it, I would be overwhelmed with depression.  I have the best job in the world, and I’m doing what I’ve been called to do since I was barely a teenager.

When I first came to Evangel, I was committed to changing the church.  I was on-fire and gung ho to bring the church out of the seventies musically.  Because that’s what everybody around me — including those on Twitter — expected me to do.  It didn’t go so well and I quickly learned I had to play “the middle of the road”.

But these guys with 30,000 followers and mega-churches are constantly telling us what we must do in order to be used of God in worship ministry.

Some of it is amusing.  Some of it is nauseating.  Very little of it is useful.

I’ve seen it all.  One re-tweet the other day went on about how “too many songs” in your set list would dilute the focus of the service.  Let me get this straight.  God sent HIS SON (words we use so often, I think we’ve become immune to the meaning of them) to this earth to DIE to save us from ETERNAL ANGUISH IN HELL and you want me to keep my worship service under ten minutes?  (Incidentally that’s less than 0.09 PERCENT of your entire week.  Don’t you think God deserves more than that?)  The presence of God is a marinade, not a microwave and my worship service is not a drive-thru.  Maybe if you spent more than four minutes a week in His presence God would either cure you of your ADHD or convict you of using it as your excuse-du-jour (yeah, I went there) of why you can’t linger in His presence.

Another well-meaning expert proclaimed to the world-at-large this week that we should not have people on our platforms who don’t know how to sing.  We should either teach them, or put a pin through their balloon and “end the lie”.  Having people with turned-down or turned-off microphones is wrong.  There are so many ways I can attack this, I can’t decide which one to start with.

First of all, do you think there is a single voice on this planet that God does not enjoy hearing?  Personally, I’m freaked out by those gadgets that the people with no vocal cords use that they stick up to their throats to talk.  In honesty, they give me the creeps.  But God loves the sound of their praises just as much as he loves the sound of mine, or the sound of a triple-platinum recording artist.  I’m reminded of a church sign I saw a couple of years ago in the north end of Oshawa.  It read “You were created unique, so you could worship Him as only you can.”

Secondly, I’m reminded of a fellow from one of my past churches.  A wonderful godly man who loved to worship and had the rhythm and the moves of a stage dancer.  But he couldn’t find pitch if you mounted a tuning fork in his ear.  I don’t know about anyone else’s church, I can only speak for mine and for churches I’ve been to.  But in almost all the churches I’ve been to in my life, 80 to 90% of the “exuberant” worshippers have always been women.  We stuck this brother behind a mic that I don’t think would have worked even if we did turn it on.  In fact, we stuck him on the front row with the lead singers.  On the first beat of the first song every Sunday, he was moving and grooving around that mic stand like he was never going to have another chance to worship his Saviour ever again.  He really brought meaning to the quote about dancing like nobody is watching, and he was a spectacular role model to the men in that church who were shown that it was okay to raise their hands… it was okay to move around a little bit and celebrate the presence of God in a physical way.  But he couldn’t sing.  So he shouldn’t have been on the platform.  Yeah, right.  Worship is about more than singing, brother.

My point is this.  There are over 300,000 churches in North America.  What works in one may not (and probably WILL not) work in another.  THERE IS NO FORMULA SO STOP TRYING TO PRETEND LIKE THERE IS.

  • It doesn’t matter what songs we sing.
  • It doesn’t matter what genre of music we sing.
  • It doesn’t matter what equipment we use.
  • It doesn’t matter whether people are “turned on” or “turned down” or “turned off” as long as they are worshipping God and setting an example for folks in the congregation.
  • It doesn’t matter which team members are on the platform.

At the end of the day, the ONLY STANDARD by which my performance as a worship leader can be measured is if people in MY CONGREGATION experienced God in worship.

As Marvin Sapp would say… “Nothing Else Matters”…

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