“Life’s most urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
One of my favorite things about leading worship each week at my church is the consistency of seeing the same people. Since I am there each weekend and not touring through city after city I can build rapport with people and in return they extend their trust to me. A great finding for me, and maybe a minor misconception some worship leaders have, is that our congregations do not look at us like rock stars but rather we appeal more to them like pastors. In other words, your congregation is seeing you as someone who serves them rather than someone who performs for them. We aren’t standing on stage to become something in the eyes of our friends, but to point beyond ourselves and look toward Jesus. It’s a fundamental difference between the worship leader and the performer.
Since we are essentially pastors we need to share in pastoral responsibility. One of the many ways to do that is to be available. Be available to your teams and your church before and after services as much as you can be. Especially be considerate after service ends to be available to as many people for prayer as possible. After God works He has afforded us the responsibility of providing support. Some coming to your services are ripe for Spiritual direction and what could honestly be better than their worship leader helping to facilitate that support. After all, most of us have professions built upon seeking out the presence of God. We train ourselves to hear His voice!
Practically speaking you may need to make a mental shift or even 180 about-face when it comes to being out in the open at your church and available. Many of we musicians have the appearance of type-A, outspoken personalities but are actually much more introverted than anyone would ever expect. I know this is the case for me. That being said, we have to push past that shortcoming and move toward caring for people. Here are a few tips that I’ve used that you are welcome to try out:
On your first few times of branching out into your congregation go into a sanctuary or open meeting place that has chairs and tables set out and just sit down. Let people come to you, but make sure you are sitting there available. When they do come, make sure to smile and welcome them to sit with you. Allow them to direct your conversation. While you don’t want to sit their mute, you are still learning, so cut yourself some slack and be present.
Once you’ve hurdled phase one, begin to go into a crowded space and plan to speak to three different people you don’t know or barely know. Start by saying “Hey, welcome to [Church Name]. I’m [Your Name]. I’m glad you’re here with us today.” If they don’t engage you any further than that move on to two other people. Take a few weeks getting used to the panic feeling of saying “hi” to strangers. It’s good for you. Somehow it warms your heart.
After you’ve mastered the “welcoming people to service” phase, move on to trying to make two to three deeper level interactions with people. Sometimes going up to a family you’ve noticed in the congregation but never met helps. You can talk to them about how you’ve seen them before and wanted to reach out. People like that. I’m sure you’d like that if you were in their shoes.
All in all, getting to know people helps increase your effectiveness as a worship leader. People matter. After all, your job is to see your congregation worship. Having them know you on a more one on one level will only build their trust in you and help lower barriers that keep them from Jesus. In all likelihood those interactions may help people in your congregation enter into deeper level relationship with Jesus. I’d imagine that would cause Jesus to smile.
As a last note, once you’ve begun to view yourself as an approachable pastor, begin to work those principles in and through your worship team. Many of them are probably good people to speak into lives. They do not need to huddle together before service. They too can “walk the congregation”.
How do you currently interact with your people? What are some helpful tools you employ when trying to interact? I’d absolutely love to hear! I might even want to use those tips myself! Comment or private message…