An Interview with Don Moen
Worship Leader’s Alex MacDougall caught up with longtime friend and beloved worship leader, Don Moen. He is releasing God Will Make A Way, his personal account detailing his service to the church. This valuable worship book is set to release this Fall and can be purchased at donmoen.com.
Worship Leader (WL): Your new book, God Will Make A Way, chronicles exactly what the Apostle Paul talks about in Romans 12. What can you tell worship leaders about a life lived out as a “reasonable act of worship?”
Don Moen: It’s important that as worship leaders we understand that “music doesn’t equal worship, and worship doesn’t equal music.” While the songs we sing are important, Jesus is more interested in how we live our lives throughout the week rather than how we sing our songs on Sunday morning. Jesus talked extensively about worship but didn’t address the issue of music, which has become such a hot topic in our churches today, where we might join or leave a church because of the music. The only reference to music that I can find in the Gospels is in Matthew 26:30 and Mark 14:26, “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”
Paul writes. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.” Our “true and proper worship” is a life laid down in service to the Lord 24/7, reaching out with love and encouragement to those who cross our path throughout the week, and bringing hope to those who have lost hope. If we lived our lives each day with this awareness, the songs we sing would be more meaningful. I’m reminded of the lyric that was birthed out of a prayer I prayed many times backstage: “with every beat of my heart, every song that I sing, every prayer that I pray, every offering I bring, with every thought that I have, in every word that I say, be glorified.” Amen. Rom 12:1 (NIV)
WL: The act of leading worship and sharing in that worship with others can “level the playing field” for all involved. What peace and connection does one find in truly worshiping God with others?
Don: If the act of leading worship and collectively sharing in that worship with others can “level the playing field,” we need to make sure our congregations are participating in worship rather than watching a great stage production. We’ve become very good at producing a great show, but unfortunately, this does not create a “level playing field.” I love great technology and production, but have we forgotten about the guy sitting on the back row of your church who drove a truck 80 hours last week? Can he relate to what he’s seeing on stage? Probably not. We need to ask the question, “what are we doing as leaders to make that guy feel like he’s part of the worship experience?” A few things come to mind. 1. Pick the right songs that connect with our audience. 2. Pick the right key. 3. Allow some breathing room in our worship set where the band doesn’t play, and our congregations can hear themselves sing. If we do these few things, we’ll have a much better chance of creating a level playing field, and we will begin to experience the peace and connection we can find worshiping with others.
WL: What will a worship leader gain by reading your new book?
Don: God uses normal people, and God made a way for me, even though I failed my speech class in college because I was afraid to speak in public. If God can use me, He can use anyone! With all the amazing resources we have available on the internet, tv and social media, it’s tempting to try to replicate, or duplicate what we see and hear, and this can be very intimidating to someone who is leading worship for a congregation of 200 people with no band, but only a couple of volunteers on the piano and organ. Learn what you can from others, but most importantly learn to “be yourself.” God will never anoint who you want to be, He anoints who you are. You may not be the most talented, the most handsome or beautiful person, but God has chosen you to lead your congregation into His presence and you cannot do that by trying to be someone else. Be authentic and God will make a way for you.