- Long-term ministry is the goal, but often we lose our zeal along the way. Here are 3 values essential for vibrant long-term worship ministry.
If you are involved in worship leading week after week, year in, year out, it’s easy to start to do things by rote. The constant grind of preparing and meeting a deadline every Sunday can start to blunt the reality of what we are doing – we lead God’s people into His presence – God! – the holy, righteous Creator and Judge of the universe who by all accounts should have destroyed us, His enemies, but who gave His only Son, to die in our place, so that we might become beloved children. God deserves to be our heart’s sole desire. God is worthy of our passionate adoration. Here are three quick prompts to help us keep our passion for God.
1. Do it for Him.
Leaving aside the fact that we are by design obligated to honour God – we are after all “…a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that [we] may proclaim the excellencies of him who called [us] out of darkness” (1 Peter 2:5) – we need only contemplate those excellencies in order to rekindle our passion for God. Think about the God we serve:
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Mat 6:8 NIV)
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us… For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Rom 5:8-10 NIV).
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Heb 4:15-16 NIV)
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (1Pe 1:18-19 NIV)
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! (1Jo 3:1 NIV)
And that doesn’t even broach the Old Testament! If you find your passion for God waning, take some time to work these truths about God into Your heart. Remind yourself of the vast majesty and greatness and compassion of our God and do it for Him.
2. Do it for them.
As you look out at the congregation on a Sunday morning, what do you see? The arms crossed guy? The grumpy one that always complains about the volume level? The teen you saw drinking at the park on Saturday?
What does God see? He sees His chosen people, holy and dearly loved (Col 3:12). He sees His Church, whom Christ loved and gave Himself up for, to cleanse and make radiant (Eph 5:25-27). Sure, this gathering is not perfect, but not even Paul could claim that (Phil 3:13). And frankly, God knows that – when He looks at His Church He knows that He loves us and has made us holy and is calling us grow in holiness (Romans 1:7, 1 Cor 1:2).
These are God’s people before us and we are given the privilege of stewarding them, of leading them. I sometimes think of Jesus in this regard, looking on His people with compassion as sheep without a shepherd (Matt 9:36).
We who are worship leaders have been given a tremendously privileged opportunity – God has called us to help His people, whom He redeemed at great personal cost, to express their thanks and devotion to Him. If you find your passion for leading worship waning, remember who these people are, and the price God paid to redeem them and do it for them.
3. Do it for you.
I admit that I struggled with this one. If I am called to worship as a living sacrifice, my job is not to ‘worship for me’; my job is to die. But this is about maintaining passion for God and leading people to praise Him, so let me put it this way. If you spend a lot of time conscientiously thinking about how to best build up the Body as God is glorified, you will probably end up using a number of resources in worship that you may or may not love deeply: a song or music style that you don’t personally identify with but that you know another segment of your congregation will embrace, an historical prayer that speaks to an experience of life unknown to you at this point, a video that your drummer raved about; a good worship leader doesn’t just use resources he or she likes, but elements that will help the whole church, in all its God-given variety, to worship meaningfully.
That being said, make sure to invest time outside of corporate worship in worship forms that ‘speak your heart language.’ Engage with God with songs and readings and nature walks (or whatever) that stir your heart. For me, this means varied practices like reading from 19th-century hymnals or listening to/meditating along with a band like ‘Worth dying for’ (think Hillsong United meets Linkin Park). In those practices, I often feel my vigor for God renewed. Would I incorporate that into corporate worship? Maybe yes, maybe no, but that’s okay. ‘Doing it for me’ reminds me that God has in His infinite wisdom knit me together with my unique preferences and gifts, according to His purposes, so I have individual personal value – I am a child of God, fearfully and wonderfully made. And that truth should drive each of us to use the unique character that God has given each of us to serve His Kingdom, so yes – do it for you.
Our God deserves our passionate adoration and He deserves servants who will serve Him passionately. Do it for Him. Do it for them. Do it for you.
Graham is an M.Div. holding, long-time worship leader with a passion for seeing the God of the Bible exalted as He deserves. He is now the preaching pastor at Langford Community Church in Southwestern Ontario. Connect with Graham at jbdomusic.com or @gwgladstone.
 Luke 17:7-10 demonstrates this point even more bluntly.
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Graham Gladstone is a worship leader and pastor currently serving at Langford Community Church in Brantford, Ontario. An M.Div. graduate, he is passionate about corporate worship shaped by careful biblical reflection and heartfelt Spirit-led prayer. Connect with Graham at gwgladstone.ca or @gwgladstone.