When I decided to go into worship ministry there were a lot of reasons swirling around. However, leading worship at funerals was no where even on my radar. In this past year though I have had to face the reality of what it means to worship in the face of death. I personally have lost two grandparents, one of which was my spiritual hero. Additionally I have lead worship for two funerals of our church family.
Before I illustrate some of the truths I learned about how to both worship and lead others in worship in these difficult times I’d like to set the stage a little.
Matthew 25 is filled with parables about how we are to live as followers of Jesus in the “between time” from Jesus ascension to heaven and his return at the final judgement. He talked about servants entrusted with an orchard, virgins waiting for the wedding procession, servants with investing and the separation of sheep and goats. These parables illustrated that the followers of Jesus are to be responsible, ready, productive and accountable.
In the business realm there is a term called talent management. It refers to the practice of not only recruiting qualified and capable people but helping them continue to develop, grow and thrive. I think Matthew 25 and in particular verses 14 through 30 speaks some profound truths into what it means for those in worship ministry about being good stewards of our own worship talent and those in our ministries. Even though the parable uses finances as an illustration, it goes deeper to the responsible and productive use of everything that God has given us to be used for his kingdom.
So here are a couple thoughts that I had and I hope they might help God speak in a new way through a familiar passage.
I was sitting in a Thai food restaurant discussing the various things that people expect out of a worship service like songs, volume, scripture readings and other things with a friend of mine when he asked the question that brought on the last couple of years of clarifying the “why and how” of worship design.
He simply asked, “what are you trying to accomplish when you’re planning worship services?”
WORSHIP IS WARFARE
In warfare there is always a victory to be won and an enemy that will either surrender or be destroyed. We will either surrender to God and he will give us victory and destroy our enemies or we surrender to ourselves and Satan and we will both be destroyed. In worship we are picking sides and fighting either for or against God.
A few years ago I was with my team backstage praying before we went out to lead worship for our Church family and a brother in Christ named Mike Wallace said something very powerful to us. He said that we were about to engage in an act of worship warfare. I’ll admit, I grew up in a Church environment where raising your hands was suspect and it’s taken me a while to grow past that unbiblical attitude. So when someone talks about spiritual warfare, lookout, there’s some serious crazy bout to go down! I love my brother though and respect him a ton so I heard him out. What was a quick statement and some real scriptural knowledge has lead to a couple of years really digging in and appreciating that truth.