Not long ago I had a friend following me to my house for the first time. He didn’t know where I lived and he didn’t have a GPS. So, in a very old school way I asked him to simply follow me home. The only problem was about half way home I totally forgot he was behind me.
Yep. I think I drove too fast, never checked the rear view mirror, and was so caught up in the music I was listening to I forgot he was following me.
I believe leading worship is a lot like having someone follow you home. Here are some things I learned from this experience.
- Make sure you know the destination.
We’ve all heard it said, “you can’t take people somewhere you’ve never been.” This is so true when it comes to worship leading. How can we take a church to the throne of the living God if we’ve never been there, don’t go there regularly, and know the way from personal experience.
- Drive slowly.
Have you ever tried to follow someone who thinks the speed limit signs are just suggestions? As a follower, nothing is more frustrating than trailing behind someone driving so fast I can’t, or won’t keep up. Maybe his car is faster than mine. Maybe I’m worried about getting a ticket. There are many reasons I might not be able to keep up with the leader.
As worship leaders, we have a responsibility to know those who follow us, and “drive” in a way they can follow. If we drive too fast, there is a good chance we will lose them. Worship Leader, it’s not about us. Most of the people in our churches don’t move as quickly as we do. It’s important to drive slowly enough that most people can follow.
- Don’t drive too slowly.
Ever been behind that driver in the fast lane who drives too slowly? It makes you crazy, right? Worship leading is the same way. If we move too slowly, some folks will pass us. It’s our job to be leaders – that means we are out front. We are on the front lines and always have the destination in mind. Know your congregation well enough to know if you’re driving too slowly. How? Time, relationship, and investment.
- Keep checking the rearview mirror.
When you have followers, be sure to check the rearview mirror often. Sometimes we are so focused on the destination we forget to check and make sure people are still following. If we look in the rearview mirror and no one is behind us, have we really led well? Take time to analyze your success. Did people really connect with that song or am I singing it only because it’s new, cool, or fits my voice well. Is the congregation engaged? Are the lyrics connecting with where folks are in their journey? These are the questions we should be asking every Monday.
- Take the turns slowly.
Churches are like buses, not Lamborghinis. If a bus makes a turn too quickly, what happens? It rolls and people go flying out. A race car can make tight turns with no problems while a bus must slow down and cautiously make the turn. So it is with churches and worship ministries. Take the changes slowly. When a big turn is coming up, hit the breaks, check the rearview mirror, and use caution. Plan your route carefully to avoid major jerks, turns, and road hazards. Be intentional about every song, every word, every moment.
- Turn the radio down.
Sometimes I play the music in my car so loudly I can’t hear the phone ring. When my friend was following me, I was jamming so much I forgot he was behind me. What can we learn from this? Let us not get so caught up in our own worship and experience we forget that our job is to lead others. Open your eyes and read the room. Learn to sense the corporate attitude, emotion, and journey. This is not so we can manipulate, rather so we can lead well. Our job as worship leaders is to lead – sometimes that means our own personal preferences and experience take a backseat to the people we are leading.
Worship leader, you are blessed, equipped, skilled, and chosen. Lead well. Love well. You are blessed to be a blessing.
Brent Dyer is the Worship Pastor at Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston, a church with three campuses and more than 14,000 members. Brent and his wife Jill have two beautiful children and are in awe that God has called them to teach people about loving Jesus. @brentandrewdyer