For me, there are several progressive stages in a worship service. Psalm 100:4 says "I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart, I will come into His courts with praise." So my wife and I generally start a service with songs of praise and thanksgiving. I tend to keep my eyes open and connect with the congregation to help them get their minds off themselves and start to focus in on Him. A little teaching, a prayer, a testimony of His wonderful works - these are all appropriate at this point and require my personal attention. The next step for us is corporate identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Just as the priests could not go in to minister in the Tabernacle without stopping at the brazen altar, so spiritually, it is very difficult to reach a place of real corporate worship unless the hearts of the folks are focused in the foundation of our worship - that we are born again through His sacrifice and resurrection - so we take them to the cross. I tend to keep my eyes open during this part of the service so I can use verbal cues and a little more teaching if needed. The next phase, in alignment with the laver in the Tabernacle, would be do sing some songs of cleansing from the word (Create in me a clean heart, Refiner's Fire, Holiness, etc.) These are usually eye-closers for me since this tends to be a real personal time with the Holy Spirit as he prepares me to worship. (Son, you know that attitude you are holding onto? Now would be a good time to give it to me....) Then comes service worship in the Holy Place - where the priests are not only ministering to God at the Altar of Incense, but interceeding on behalf of their church, their families, their community, nation, etc. The place of real eye-closed worship for me is when the whole congregation can come to a place of adoration in the Holy of Holies - nothing else going on, just worshiping and adoring God. Unfortunately it is very hard to bring a church to this place corporately. Most of the current top 40 Christian hits are all "I" centered ditties (I love, I think, I feel, I want, I sing, I'm free, etc.) and they don't tend to help people focus on Him. Suggested choruses for this part of the service would be songs like Agnus Dei, Highest Place, Glory to the Lamb, How Great is Our God, etc.) If you can make it to this place in your service, closed eyes are totally appropriate.
Wow... You all bring up some really great points. I have to say for me that I do all the above. Sometimes I find my greatest encouragement in leading when I look at a particular someone in the congregation. Last Sunday night we had a joint service with another church and I looked out and saw my friend, Jackie (who also attends another church). She just made my heart soar. Ever find someone like that who lifts you up as you minister?
Anyway, I like to close my eyes from the distractions of disinterested or unconnected congregants. Then again, sometimes I'd like to drag them by the ear into the presence of God so they'd get a good taste of what it's like. I really don't think that'd work, but there are times I'd sure like to try! I'm sure some of you can relate.
I take my shoes off from time to time depending on how tall or comfortable they are. The last thing I want to do is trip on stage and watch my feet go one way and the microphone the other. Our pianist (aka the Worship Director) ALWAYS worships with his shoes off. We tease him about it. Then again, we can... we're family. :)
I also connect visually with my team members. Sometimes they give me the extra "umph" I need to lead. They are a great source of joy in my life and we absolutely have each other's backs.
I do both..I open them at maybe a verse or point of the song I feel is a "teaching moment" or ministry moment for the body and will look at the people in the eyes..or when I need to cue who ever may be with me at the time..or the people when we repeat a verse.
Most of the time I close them..especially when the words of the song is directed to the Lord.
umm.... haha I would have to say both. When I lead worship I dont feel like I need to leave my eyes open or shut. I experiance worship the same as anyone. If I am praying I am going to shut my eyes. Thats about it. I often times find myself closing my eyes when I ingage in worship. D.J.
i do both eyes open and closed eyes...is depends when i take the audience to praise God i will open my eyes to connect with them where worship God in joyful and when in to worship i will closed my eyes ...
I think, as worship leaders, we should lead in the way we expect the congregation to follow. If we are not worshiping openly and freely the congregation will not either. There does need to be a connection with the worship leader, but i dont believe having our eyes open during a song we are singing to God will cause that connection. I think the connection is by being open about yourself and your life with the congregation and also sharing thoughts on worship. We should be teachers as well as leaders. I personally close my eyes because i am trying to worship during those times.
Definately both. You need have focus on God, but you also have to see the congregation and allow them to engage with you. I think there are a few main things about keeping your eyes open. Worship leading, you are also leading the band. Through progressions, bridges and if you wanted to go through another chorus or something again. You need to be able to see the congregation you lead, as well as the band. Because as a worship leader you are the one directing where the music will go next, as well as the level of worship within that musical idea.
Definately eyes open. If closed, stay aware of what's going on around you. Closed eyes doesn't have to mean zoned out , and shouldn't . haha.
But keep close to God in it, pretty sure the eyes will do both.