For the last two and a half years, I've had the privilege of visiting dozens of churches across the U.S.—megachurches, house churches, charismatic to Methodist and everything in between.
Some of these I've led worship in, some I've consulted and some I've attended. These churches look very different, every one possessing its own unique identity. However, we have more in common than you may think.
When it comes to corporate worship, we're after the same thing. Here are some values I've noticed that most evangelical churches are looking for. Is yours?
5 Corporate Worship Values
- Multi-generational: If you're looking to make everyone in your church happy and cater to every opinion and need, you'll burn out in six months. Or maybe one weekend. However, there is a pastoral responsibility we have to know the flock we shepherd, both as lead pastors and as worship pastors. If we only lean into our preferences (or the preferences of the CCLI top 10), we aren't stewarding our roles very well. We need to know who we lead and what helps them engage.
I do believe we've placed an unhealthy emphasis on song choice. Perfectly selected songs don't ensure a powerful, unified worship experience. Remember: Songs are tools, not an end in themselves. However, knowing the language of your people certainly goes a long way.
- Space: The popularity of Bethel is without question. But 15-minute songs will never be the norm for Sunday morning worship. However, corporate worship can't feel like a formula. It can't feel like a scripted date night, where every word is read from a cheat sheet. Healthy relationships are a dance of planned and spontaneous.
I've found the best way to do this is to plan a single moment in every worship set for space. Consider it planned spontaneity. While it can be long, it doesn't need to be more than 30 seconds or a minute. It's a place to breathe and allow the set some space for the Holy Spirit to speak in the moment.
- Christ-centered: You would think this would go without saying: Corporate worship is about Jesus. The truth is, we subtly make it about ourselves—our comfort and our preference. What would the gathered church look like if it was truly about the centrality of the cross and the glory of God? What would change?
We need to remember that our gatherings are not just about connection, attendance and first-time guests. Of course, it's important to reach people and consider how we can assimilate them into ministry and grow the church. But if we lose the central idea that the church is primarily about God and His glory—that our lives are primarily about God and His glory—we miss everything.
- Guest-conscious: But let's not throw the baby out with the bath water. We must remember that every gathering has people who are clueless about worship and church. As leaders, we need to both welcome the guest and challenge the believer. It's a challenging tension, but worth our planning and investment. We have a responsibility.
Remember, you are a worship leader. You need to worship, but you also must lead. Know the room. Lead the room. See yourself as a coach. A coach is successful if the whole team does well.
- Conversational: We live with a tension as worship leaders to want to be deep. We want the worship experience to be meaningful. Yet often we come across as creepy, morose and overly sad. We say things that don't make sense. We communicate heavy, spiritual truths in a confusing way. We get overly emotional. We speak in scary, hushed tones with stone-cold faces. What we need is to build relationship with people in the room. We need to be real, welcoming and present. Focus on connecting.
Remember, worship is the most vulnerable activity a person can do. We set people at ease by being down-to-earth, real and welcoming. Make eye contact. Smile. Be bold.
What might you add to this list? What does your church value in corporate worship?
David Santistevan is a worship pastor and an associate at Slingshot Group, which partners with non-profits and the local church to find and develop next-level people.
For the original article, visit davidsantistevan.com.
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