Worship Leaders, God has never promised to use our cleverness or talent; neither our incredible song arrangements and amazing musicians.
He has never guaranteed that if we have the most skilled sound and lighting technicians who set up the perfect environment for corporate worship that he would be there, meeting with us and changing us to be more like himself.
He has promised that He is seeking worshipers who will worship in Spirit and Truth. (John 4:24)
He has promised that as we proclaim the truth of His word, it will powerfully succeed in accomplishing the very purposes that He intends for it to. (Isaiah 55:11)
Yet often, we rely so heavily on our own talent, planning, and execution, thinking that if we can just play the perfect songs perfectly, it will act as an adequate mediator between God’s power and God’s people.
But if worship is not built on God’s word, we are really just having an experience with our own emotions.
Don’t get me wrong, excellent music and lighting are wonderful tools that God has given us and when they are not done well, it can be incredibly distracting. I am all for excellence and place a high value on it myself. The Holy Spirit can use these things in powerful ways to change people’s lives for his glory – but how much moreso will he use His own word?
The marriage of the word and worship is paramount. With it God has promised to save, shape and sanctify people for himself.
So I wanted to offer a few suggestions for how we all might more regularly incorporate the scriptures in our worship services.
SATURATE SONGS WITH IT: Choose songs that are saturated with the Bible, centered on God’s character and work, and full of gospel truth. Our people should be singing God’s word as often as possible, and we have the unique privilege of putting it in their minds, memories and mouths with song. Of course, this means we really need to know God’s word. But if we aren’t in love with God’s word, we should probably consider a new career path anyway.
READ IT: Nothing fancy here. Find places in the service where verbal, out loud reading is appropriate (it’s always appropriate, but some times fit better without interrupting the flow of the service). Often times a call to worship or benediction is a great place to do this. The Psalms are full of great calls to worship, showing God’s character and his works, and exhorting people to praise God with all they are. If you are introducing a new song, try reading the scripture the song is taken from. And of course, it is always a good idea to read the scripture your pastor is preaching from that day before the sermon.
PUT IT ON SCREEN: I have often heard people advocate for making the flow of your service a non-stop wall of singing by taking out all musical breaks in the songs (shortening intros and outros, cutting out the instrumental bridge, etc.) Yet these moments are great opportunities for beauty to work in concert with truth as we leave space for it in the music. Rather than removing these moments, use them! Leave in the instrumental breaks and incorporate Bible verses on the screens during these moments. Use scriptures that explain what is being sung and encourage people to worship God in light of those truths. Make sure the scripture you choose is short enough for people to finish reading before you begin singing again, or lengthen the break in order to give people time to finish. We want our people to learn to love God’s word – not train them to ignore it because they think they won’t have time to finish reading.
Let’s keep the main thing the main thing. Jesus is the main thing. And he has given us his word to reveal himself to us by the power of His Spirit. As we are faithful to make His word of truth central in our gatherings, He will be faithful to move in the life of his church.