Monday, February 13, 2006

What Does Leading Worship Cost?


No, not how much does your equipment cost or how much did your Hillsong/Soul Survivor/Willow Creek/Vineyard CD cost you; What are the real costs of leading Worship? and, more importantly, Can you afford them?

These are two key questions I have had to learn to ask whenever I look at doing something. The answers will quickly give you a yes or no answer. Before we look at what impact leading Worship could have on your life, let me just say something about priorities.

I have a priority list. It sums up everything that's important to me in my life, and what order they come in. I first set it up about 3-4 years ago, and it was a little difficult to arrange things, but I got there in the end. Since then I have attempted to make what I do with my time match my priority list. You may not be surprised to hear that God is at the top of my list, that is until you remember that I'm married and have a daughter. So, the list says that I put God first, above them. Whoa! Potential for friction? Well, yes, but God's plan for me allows this to work well, as He's blessed me with a family, so He's not going to tear it apart now is He?!

So, God's at the top of the list, and family is second. "Me time" is on the list, as it should be for anyone. Family and friends, Work, Justice all feature too.

If you wrote a "Priorities" list for your life, What would be on it? and in what order?

I suggest that you do actually try writing a similar list. It helped me know myself more, and understand God in my life too. Give it a go.

What your priorities are, decides what your cost/s will be, and whether you can afford them.

Or, as Lynn Swart puts it,
The Decisions you make, affect the Direction you travel in and the Destination you reach.

With that in mind, what does leading Worship actually entail? For me it's quite simple until you actually try to do it!

As a Worship Leader, I expect to better enable a group of people to Worship and Praise God. I am expendable and I am not essential, but I hope to serve this group with my God given gifts and follow the Holy Spirit's leadings, all so that we may communicate with God, and He with us. In fact my favourite description of a Worship Leader is just someone waving a big arrow pointed at God! (If you ever see a Worship Leader, or Service Leader pointing the arrow at themselves, please feel free to admonish them; especially if it involves throwing fruit at them...)

Practically this means all sorts of things. I may be working with a band, therefore I'd need to rehearse with them, therefore I'd need to prepare something for them to rehearse, therefore I'd need to learn new songs, write songs and learn old ones too! I'd need to know what the Service Leader was planning, and certainly if God was saying something specifically for a time or meeting. I'd need to have an active and personal relationship with God. I'd need to be rested. I'd need to practice my own skills/instrument. I may need to allow time to setup and tear down PA equipment, or equip others to help. This list could go on and on (and it usually does!)

Possibly the biggest thing it could involve is the issue of Spiritual Warfare. I believe that anyone in leadership puts themselves in a position where the Devil can see them clearly. Now, I also believe that Spiritual Battles will be fought by Spiritual Beings, and that I'm not sure we're called to do anything other than call on and believe in God's protection. Simply put, stick with God, don't waste time worrying about it and accept a heads up from me!

So, on one hand you have all of the activity that leading Worship can bring, like the shear amount of time even volunteer Worship Leaders put in and on the other you have What? Marriages? Work? Money/Investments? Taking resources away from these things, especially time, are the real costs of Leading Worship.

Finally the second question; Can you afford them? For example:

Is leading Worship/Playing in the band worth what it costs me? Is it worth a practice night once a week. Is it worth spending 5 hours at church on a Sunday? Is it worth my wife complaining to me that I/we spend too much time at church on a Sunday and not enough together? Is it worth the money that's tied up in the instruments we own? Is it Worth the time I spend waiting on God for Him to speak? for Him to inspire songs? Is it worth the conferences, the CD's, the DVD's?

Honestly? YES YES YES YES YES YES YES!!! and once more YES! Every fibre of me knows that's the answer. Except that's not the question. Of course God's worth Worshiping, 24-7 in fact, but the question is, again, can I afford it?

I don't know. I can afford it, at the moment. I can balance it all, at the moment. Maybe a time will come when I can't and then, Will I give it up? (It is quite addictive.)

No good article on God would be complete without a comment from Him himself, so here's where I think the answer is to be found to the question Can I Afford It?

2 Chronicles 1:10Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?"

Exodus 28:3Tell all the skilled men to whom I have given wisdom in such matters that they are to make garments for Aaron, for his consecration, so he may serve me as priest.

I could choose from a wide selection of quotes to demonstrate this aspect of 'How God Works', but I'm enjoying the Old Testament at the moment, so I've chosen these two. The second one seems to me to be a very similar to the situation I find myself in.

The request by Solomon for 'Wisdom and Knowledge' in order to lead the people in his charge is something I think everyone in Leadership should be praying. Only if we ask for God's wisdom (especially discernment) and God's leading (knowledge) can we lead people effectively and accurately, that is, where God wants them to.

The pattern that God sets out in Exodus really does reflect so much of how I see what I do. God gifts the 'skilled men', both with abilities AND a purpose, so that they may serve the Priesthood. If you translate that to how things are now (New Covenant) you'll see that the Priesthood is now everyone, and that the 'skilled men' are the Worship Leaders/Service Leaders etc (who are also part of the Priesthood.)

So, to answer this lingering question, we need God. If he calls us to something he will equip us for it. If we grow in Wisdom we will better see what we can afford to give, and what we can't.
It all comes back to our relationship with God. If each part of our lives is given over to God, then they will all work together. It's often when we do things in our own time, or our own strength that they go wrong.

My advice? Work out what your priorities are, or to put it another way, What has God put on your Heart or Blessed you with? Once you know that, ask God to increase your Wisdom and Knowledge to best know how to use what you have. It doesn't matter if you get it wrong and it really doesn't matter if it takes time!

In fact, I've got a better answer to the question 'What Does Leading Worship Cost?

The same thing anything else that's about following God: YOUR LIFE.

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