Being a worship leader has at least two sides: the sacred and secular.
You can probably guess what I mean by sacred. It’s everything to do with the spiritual side of leadership – the devotion, prayer, personal worship, taking the lyrics to heart, congruence in our lives on stage and off. It’s a desire to help lead the way in your church for authentic worship, in spirit and in truth.
Then there’s the other stuff.
Of course, much like the ancient saints believed, all work can be worship. But for our context here, let’s just say getting the charts right on planning center, fixing the lights, rolling cable or rewiring the stage will be listed on the secular side. It’s the practical “business” of worship leadership teams. We have to do some of the mundane basics, lovingly and on behalf of the church, but we still must do them.
This is where we must be careful. We must not let ourselves fall into the trap of worshipping worship. The possibilities for worship ministry are endless. As I write this post, we’re in the middle of the COVID-19 Crisis. Our sanctuary has virtually become a TV studio. And the limits are endless – videos of this and that, shots for streaming, lyric placement, team configuration. There are constraints, but we’re also working with the practical side of ministry in endless ways. We want to be faithful, but we don’t want to get to a point that all the secular stuff becomes the focus.
In our devotion today, Jesus was just beginning this period of temptation in Luke 4. He’s offered all the kingdoms of the world if only he would bow down. His response is clear and concise:
“It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”Jesus, Luke 4:8
We worship God and serve him only. Our finest skills in hard conversations, creative components, team expectations, video editing and team scheduling must be fined tuned and honed. Our ability to craft, recruit, equip, rehearse and engage must be practiced well. The tracks, instruments and stage design must work as well as it can. All of these secular components can be utilized, tweaked, tried and executed.
But, all of this MUST line up behind worshipping the Lord and serving him only. As soon as we begin serving the secular components first, we’re in big trouble.
We worship God and serve him only.
If we were sitting down over coffee or tea, we could talk and talk about how, in the best sense, these all happen naturally together. God calls us to use our gifts, passions and skills for his glory. We want excellence. We want to glorify him and we want our church to remove all barriers to reaching people. All true. I’m sure that we would also agree that a group of people could worship God with no instruments, no stage, no lights, no lyrics, nothing and it could be very meaningful. We’d also agree that context is important. We need to be missional and incarnational to reach the people in our regions. It would be a delightful conversation.
BUT, we must never serve those things. We worship and serve God only and those things may (or may not) grow out of that.
Worship God and serve him only. Jesus’ response is good enough for me when I’m tempted to confuse the importance of the sacred and secular in worship.