Thank you for coming to church. You don’t have to be there, and we sometimes forget that as leaders. The fact is this: You don’t have to be at church. You choose to be at church. My prayer is that you will be blessed because you came.
Please know that you have another choice. That choice is what or whom you worship. Worship is not an optional activity. Everyone is always worshipping something or someone. That’s why I’m calling you a worshiper and not an attender. As much as you may want to just attend a worship service, you’re actually in some sort of act of worship 24 hours a day, every day of your life. My hope for you is that you give all of that energy and attention to God every time you come to a service.
As you come to church, relieve yourself of the responsibility of inspecting our God presentation. You will always find flaws because we are flawed. Instead, come expecting the presence of God. God is not flawed. He is perfect. When you seek God in a fresh way every week, He will show you something new every time. His presence is way better than our presentations.
When I ask you to raise your hands, don’t assume it’s a stick-up. I’m actually encouraging you to be biblical with your expression. It’s a great thing to express your love for God and get excited. God has also asked us to sing, clap, shout, bow down and even dance. If you do those things at a concert or sporting event and not at church, you should probably do some introspection regarding your worship.
I truly appreciate your song requests. Keep those coming. Sometimes, you have some good ideas, but not all of the good songs are on Christian radio or even on your radar. There’s actually a whole bunch of incredible songs written for the church that just don’t get the airplay or exposure. I have a pulse on that, and I strive to prayerfully consider all the options. Give me some trust and don’t get mad if I don’t sing your favorites, but please keep requesting, because you enlighten me at times.
Speaking of songs, you may want more old songs, but they probably won’t be predominate. Maybe you want more new songs, but just know it’s not about staying up to date. Maybe you just want more of the same, but please realize it’s important to “sing a new song,” at least according to Scripture. As long as we are all focused on God, the songs should play second fiddle at best.
If you could be on time to church, that would be great. This may seem insignificant, but it can be an impact. We actually practice and rehearse the set list every week, including the FIRST SONG. When you habitually come in late, it tells me that what we do is not that important to you. More importantly, it says that worshiping God in song with the gathered church is low on your priority list. Not everyone has this punctuality problem, but some do. You know who you are.
Perspective is huge. Make sure you have the right perspective of your role. Look in the mirror and say this to yourself: “I am not a part of an audience.” An audience is a gathering that needs to be entertained. The gathering of God’s people should not be an audience that comes for a show. You are way more than an audience. You are part of a choir of children who call God their Father! We’re united in lifting up anthems of praise to an audience of One – the One true and worthy God. When you keep that perspective, you won’t settle for merely being entertained by our talents. You will intentionally strive to join the praise to our Almighty Audience of One!
It’s one thing for me to give constructive criticism, but I’m not perfect. So, let me take a moment to apologize. I’m sorry for bringing my ego to the stage at times. I’m sorry for judging you based on your expression or lack thereof. I don’t know your heart, so I’ll trust that it’s in the right place. I’m sorry for occasionally choosing songs and neglecting to pray about it. I have fallen short at times and will fail in the future, so I greatly appreciate your grace as you continue to come.
Finally, please know that I love you. When I play and sing songs every week, I am also praying that you will be inspired to not see me for very long. My hope and prayer is that the songs will inspire you to look to God and love Him more and more.
I really want you to be a part of what God is doing in our midst.
I LOVE GOD and I LOVE YOU!
The Worship Leader
Normally I don't do this, but my colleague Gary Durbin has written an open letter that expresses my thoughts so precisely that I am copying and pasting it unmodified here. Thanks, Gary, for writing this.