by Don Moen
When you lead worship, how do you know what the Holy Spirit wants you to do at any particular time?
I have had moments in leading worship when I have experienced an unusual sense of the presence of God. In these times, I have found that He has been teaching me how to interpret what the Holy Spirit wants to do - how to "capture the moment."
Let me share a real-life example. I was leading worship at a choir retreat near Atlanta. Because of another commitment, I was on a tight schedule. I needed to leave for the airport immediately following the 30 minutes of music I planned.
As we started singing the second song, "Think About His Love," people began to weep throughout the congregation. But we were only two songs into the set! At the end of the song, it seemed futile to try to move on with the scheduled program. I didn't know what to do. Obviously God was up to something, but what? The subject of the song was pretty basic: His love and goodness.
Feeling it was my duty as the worship leader to pull the worship service up to some joyous point before giving the platform over to the speaker, I stumbled into the next song and finished the set, greatly troubled.
I kept asking myself: "Did I do the right thing? Should I have waited to see what the Holy Spirit would do after that second song?" I heard later that the speaker was sensitive enough to adjust his own program and let the Holy Spirit continue to do what He had started in the hearts of the people. As a result, the congregation experienced a time of tremendous repentance and forgiveness.
As I read the Scriptures that night trying to figure out what went wrong, God led me to Romans 2:4: "The goodness of God leads you to repentance" (NKJV).
We had been singing about God's goodness, and it led people to repentance. Of course - why had I been so confused? I'm learning to be ready at all times to "capture the moments" in our times of worship.
Here are some suggestions to help you do it, too:
1.Practice in your private times of worship. Sometimes the Lord will make His joy very real to us. Or we will experience His incredible forgiveness, healing, mercy, grace, peace - all attributes of God.
The Holy Spirit can sensitise us to these in our devotional times. Then, when we lead worship, we can better identify them.
2.Go with the flow. God is more interested in ministering to the hearts of the people than in what our next song is. Looking back on that night in Atlanta, I see I had a real problem with the idea of singing only two songs. On my program, the Holy Spirit wasn't supposed to move on people's hearts until the seventh song. We need to learn to follow God's program, not ours.
3.If God is doing something, camp out there. Waiting is probably the hardest thing a worship leader does.
We think that to have a successful praise and worship service, we must start with thanksgiving, enter into praise, then move into worship. While this is a useful general pattern to follow, we don't want to exclude God from moving on hearts during a time of thanksgiving.
We must allow God the opportunity to speak back to the congregation. I have always believed that worship is more than a monologue - it is a dialogue. In other words, God wants to minister to us as we minister to Him.
Think about it. God wants to be intimately involved in our times of worship. Too many times, because of our own agenda, we miss what could have happened. All too often people come into a worship service and leave the same way they came. If we have truly entered into worship, we should be changed, like Isaiah was changed when he saw the Lord.
I am convinced that if we will be sensitive to capture the special moments ordained by God, our worship times will become more meaningful than we could ever have imagined.
©2000 by Don Moen