When it's the beginning of worship I know it's safe to do it. I close my eyes because the lights on the stage are really bright and I tend to look up when I worship. I like focusing on God and not the church the whole time because people watch you worship and I don't like making eye contact with them because, like Ralph said, I don't like feeling like I'm playing at a concert.
When I want to build a song, that's when I have my eyes open, I am cuing people on the team and watching the church to see if they are united with us. Also, when it's really intimate worship, I like watching the church worship, because it's really cool watching them cry out to God.
I also have my eyes open for fast songs, cause I like to pump up the church, and at the end of worship, so I can see where Pastor wants to go with it, whether he is ready to go up, or if he wants us to keep going. :-)
I'm part of the "both" club. I do believe that you do not need to lose sight of the congregation. I also believe that we do not forget that we are also worshipping and not just "directing" worship.
Do we feel that if we SEE the congregation falling behind that WE can swoop in and save the day? Or do we still belive that that will be a God thing. Although I'm familiar with the teqniches of leading worship...(tempo, volume, key changes, accapella, musical...and so on), have we fallen into the trap that WE are the ones orchestrating the worship time? Just a thought.
If I am not cleared to move to the next song, not by the Pastor, but by God. Now you think I've totally lost it! Let me explain. I lead behind a keyboard, and there have been times God has literally frozen my hands so I could not move to the next song. I am a little more aware of those times now and tend to loop the music and close my eyes and await direction. I do not feel that I am closing my eyes TO the congregation, but opening my spirit to God FOR the congregation.
We had one of those God times this past Sunday morning. We were singing 'Draw Me Close', sang it through a couple of times and then we just repeated the chorus a few more times. After that the Holy Spirit began to move and minister to one of my team members and anointed her to continue leading that song (she is not one to sing out or do anything on her own unless she is moved by the Holy Spirit to). I knew that we were to stay there and just worship for a while, so we did. The worship began to rise and then the Lord spoke a word to the congregation to worship Him. Such a wonderful time with the Lord and I was glad I didn't rush on to the next song on the list and missed what the Lord had for us at that moment.
I like Diane's comment. I personnally keep one eye open and the other one closed, lol. It's important to open your eyes now and then just to see what the Pastor or elders are up to and also to check the time,but for most of the time I close my eyes. If everyone in your group knows excactly what to do without you giving them signals then you can perhaps close your eyes and just enjoy the worship. Do what works for you and your church!
Did anyone else think it was funny when some of us said really good leaders lead with their eyes closed? If they were really good at leading us to worship, wouldn't our eyes be closed in worship? Lol! We shouldn't have any idea whether the famous leaders of our day have their eyes open or closed, should we? :)
And did it occur to anyone else that if a leader sings with their eyes closed, it might sometimes invite the audience to treat it more like a performance, not less?
Okay, okay, I said those things just to get everyone riled up again. This post just got way too civil over the past page or so.
But seriously, why have so many of us said it doesn't matter? Sure, it probably doesn't matter six pages worth of posts, but it does matter at least a little bit. Like Todd Vater said, eyes tie in with communication. And like Mark F said, we should be concerned about leading those who are clearly not engaged in worship. While eye contact is probably not the answer to helping those people engage in worship (I think a word of exhortation and encouragement would help), we will rarely know if people are disengaged if we glue our eyes shut for the last three songs.
I lead mostly with my eyes open, but like many have said, I close them during "strong" lyrics, and I look upward/heavenward quite frequently. Eyes open or closed, I always try to be worshiping the Lord and adoring and honoring Him. ***I think closing my eyes is not a taboo thing, but I have tried to keep them open more than I would naturally if I was worshiping at home alone. There is a difference between worshiping and leading worship - the one is about following Christ, the other is a balance of leading and following - leading others to follow Christ (while following Him ourselves).
Hope this all makes sense, and I hope I added to the convo.
Both. I dont really think about it, to tell you the truth, it just kinda happens naturally. Depending on the song....if I'm singing about God, I look out over the congregation and engage the people. If I'm singing to God, I either close my eyes or look up. I think when your eyes are closed the whole time, you shut people out .....and the other thing is, you cant tell what kind of response is going on. You have to look and see if people are engaged in worship or if they look like deer in the headlights. And of course you need to stay in communication with your band, alot of that is done with eye contact.
I dont think their is a right or wrong way. Me personally I tend to close my eyes more. It depends on the flow of the spirit. When I am opening my eyes it'a usually during a praise song where we are all worshipping as one body, and just having a good time in his presence. =D I laugh, I smile, with my eyes open, but at all times I want to be focused on him, whatever keeps you focused on him, and not on the congregation, and keeps you sensitive to the flow of the Holy Spirit is the way to go :)
There are so many ways to worship, as long as you are honoring God with your actions in worship, it shouldnt matter if we have our eyes open or closed, as long as their focused on Jesus!
We need to focus our eyes on Jesus, open or closed, their is way to much idolizing in the church today, and when someone in authority worships with their eyes closed then we feel we have to do it to, I dont want to feel pressured to worship in a certain way. Im going to express my love to Jesus the best way I know how, and that is being myself, if people focus that much on the outward appearence of worship they should go to a rock concert, because worship is where you worship. As in, you tune out every outside distraction/influence, you focus on God, and you give him glory! Becuase he is worthy of all honor, all Glory, and all power, forever and ever AMEN!
Be intentional about what you do and how you do things. Most of the time, during really intimate times in worship I have my eyes closed, sometimes because of the hot lights, but most of the time, my eyes are closed during those times, but open when I am communicating something that needs to be conveyed eye to eye and I am trying to get a point across, I make eye contact. If people see that you are being sensitive and you are not staring at them to see if they are worshiping, I think that they are most likely not to feel self-conscience about it, if they are ones that have a hard time with raising their hands or singing out loud. Just be sensitive.
But mostly closed because during sensitive worship, it should be between you and the Lord, and when people see you worship they will. You don't need to watch, you have ears to hear what the Lord is saying, because that is what intimacy is, listening to the Lord. Now I am not saying never, just be sensitive, and open and shut your eyes and make sure that you are being consequence and sensitive of what is going on and that you are not missing it.
During the fun times of the service I have my eyes open, not to see how people are worshiping but to stay connected, there is a difference between drawing attention to yourself by performance, and connecting with people by your excitement of the moment. We encourage our singers to do the things that the musicians cannot do, if we are singing something like "Dancing Generation" and we are stone still and do not look excited to be there then your congregation will not engage. Our musicians are encouraged to be performance aware, but still have fun!
Your job as a worship pastor congregation is to help them engage in the praise, joy and intimate moments with the Lord. There is not just one way! Everyone's church and atmosphere is unique, and everything that we do is based on how to be Christ like.
Have fun in your worship. If you are meeting God in your worship, then close your eyes. A person told me once, that they liked that I was having a relationship with the Lord on stage, and I was not just up there to add hype, but to minister, and in that service I happened to be crying on stage during worship, and they told me because I released my self to be vulnerable to the Lord, it helped them break free from self, to enter in. WOW!
.Phil, you oft times open up some interesting topics that have staying power. Forgive me for skipping some of the pages so might repeat what others of said, but.....There is a difference between being a worshipper and being a leader of worship. How can you lead worship with your eyes closed and you don't know whether anyone is following.
When God moved me to my current position I had the opportunity to watch a couple of other worship leaders at my current church. It is in the same town where I have lived for the last nine years and I had heard thru friends that the worship was dying and people were starving for something fresh. They were playing music from 15- 20 years ago exclusively, it seemed the more po-dunk the better. One leader in particular never opened his eyes and later when I asked him, he was so afraid that people would focus on him as opposed to the One we worship. It was truly the most un-inspiring worship I have witnessed. He was a great worshipper but did not engage the congregation one iota. My wife and I both thought that through his approach it was more about the congregation getting to witness someone worshipping
than being exhorted, encouraged, or even asked to participate.
As leaders we have to be aware of our surroundings, are people staring at a blank screen because the projector or projectionist is having a problem. do we need to ask people to squeeze into the middle between songs as the usher are having a hard time finding seats for everyone. If eyes are shut tight how can we possibly be on top of everything that is required of us. Time to be lost in worship is when you are having your own personal worship time, maybe during practice and things are going good I will spend some time, with verbal cues to the TEAM that, man let's just spend some time in the prescence of the Lord. Not that we shouldn't lead by being that example of worship, but we have a responsibility to be aware so that we can also lead by engaging the congregation in worship.
Eyes closed mostly, because I sing to an audience of one. Sometimes I open my eyes, depending on the song, the spirit, the level of ministry needed. I feel that I don't have the capacity to meet the needs of the people or to carry their burdens. Therefore, I minister to Him and He shows up and ministers to the people.