God has shown me recently that Passion is key to engaging the church in worship. While I desire to connect with my band members in worship, and to connect with the church in worship, my biggest desire is that we all connect with the Lord in worship. That's why we're "worship" bands, right?
So I must:
-Biblically Lead (with clean hands and a pure heart, with an attitude of gratitude, with the perspective of my sin and God's grace, whether playing an instrument, singing, clapping, and/or dancing);
-Invite them (literally) & Include them (play singable songs in their range, have words available to follow along);
-Prepare (in preparation, practice AND prayer).
But, really, the bottom line is that I worship passionately before the Lord. I help the congregation best engage if I am fully engaged. So, for me, real passion (not just energy though that should be there too) has been the key to helping me lead others into worship. Haha, if you look at what I listed above, it's just a BLIP if I am not 100% all-out in worship. Now if I could only figure out an acronym for that ...
I have found the idea that I am just ONE of the people a great help. If I think I know more than them about worship, that can lead to me putting myself up on a pedestal. I may know a little more about the mechanics (I'd better, after 15 years or so in this) but when it comes to the actual worship I approach God the same way they do - through Jesus, the way, the truth, the life. :)
God has shown me that what happens when I lead worship on Sunday is directly related to the personal worship that I have shared with Him all week - it is an overflow. I consider worship more than just leading songs - it is a lifestyle that flows out of my relationship with Him.
I also believe in excellence in ministry, because God deserves our best. So I make sure that I am musically prepared.
I select songs that are easy to sing, so that members of the congregation can join in easily. I don't want it to be a spectator sport.
I have also learned to stay open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Although I am always prepared, I always want to let Him be the ultimate leader.
True - spiritual and musical preparation is key. But have you even been in a place where you feel that you and the congregation are not in the same place? I'm not talking about a lack of response (although I've been through that, too) but a mindset where people are trailing in late with their kids in tow, harried, worried about whatever has happened to them that week. How to get our attention off self and onto God?
This is a tough one to break--at least at my church. There was a time when roughly 25% of the people--mainly visitors--were in the sanctuary (actually--school auditorium where we meet) at 10AM with half the rest chatting in the hallway and the others not arriving until 10:15 or so. We were getting to the point where we didn't even begin until about 10 after. One Sunday I made an announcement, with the help of a 6 year old, of how "when the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the 10 it's time to start." The next week we started at 10AM and have done so within a couple minutes ever since. Most of the people are there on time now with the regular stragglers getting there later. At least they aren't as much of a distraction since many get there during announcements.
Yes- praying before service helps. And we also start right on time, even if there are only 5-10 people in the house. I don't believe it is as much a distraction to me as to others in the congregation...but still feel this spiritual 'resistance' to worship...
Or maybe the question should be... if the congregation arrives at church "harried, worried about the week," how do we start our service to meet them where they are and move them to a place of worship? If the service starts out with the music, maybe the first song or two needs to be about being in that situation, and then something (a short prayer?) to specifically transition into worship focused on God. Warmup / worship / prayer time for the band before the service is good, but don't forget that the congregation wasn't there for that... the service (whether it's music, announcements, whatever) needs to start out where the congregation is when they arrive, 'cause if you lose them on the first song, it's gonna be tough to pull them along with you on the second or third...
As I don't do worship in my home church - every situation I do worship in is different. The most important thing God has shown me is to pray and trust.............! O and I always ask the Holy Spirit to come into the music.