Why They Are Checking Out
“The way leaders engage in the worship experience will send a huge message to the church community about the value and expectation placed on the worship time.” — David Ruis
Does your leader ever check-out during worship? Do you? As a worship leader myself for over 18 years, I have seen and experienced this disconnect more often than I’m afraid to admit. I’m not sure what other people think, but I shiver at the thought of what God thinks.
How does a leader check-out in worship? Well you know, it could be the pastor glancing at their speaking notes during the music (or finishing the sermon ), it could be a musician or singer noodling or staring at the floor, it could be a staff member talking to one another during the prayer time, or it could be one of the other ministers rushing in late to make their announcement. It could even be the person leading worship, who does not appear focused nor prepared.
You know the worship time is important, but you may find yourself fidgeting. In my own experience, I have been distracted in both leading and engaging in worship. How can this be reversed?
Checking out in worship is due to a variety of things, tasks, and to-do’s of what’s on the brain, what’s coming next, where you’ve been or where you’re going, and/or what you want to eat afterwards. If you are continually bothered, the worship time just becomes another background event. This is not limited to the music time alone.
I’ve also witnessed another disconnect when the music set is over and the worship leader and band hits the doughnuts and coffee while the pastor is preaching. Even worse, I’ve seen the band get into the car to make a Starbucks run! They make it back in time just to play the song response at the closing service. This alone is a negative respect issue and sends a strong uncaring message to the leadership and the congregation. Even more so, our praises to God show as void and empty offerings.
What can remedy this problem? I believe it’s found in communing with God before the service – before the entire day. Taking time to read, acknowledge, praise, sing, confess, request, and honor God helps us form a foundation of sincere worship. It does not mean that we will be free from any distractions from this point forward, it means that we have a defense to fall back on when we are tempted.
In looking at the life of David, he was not just the worship leader, but he was also the chief commander of the army. He was committed to worship as a means of national security. David knew about the importance of worship preparation to fend off spiritual distractions. Have you ever considered that our prayers, songs and spoken words to be strategic weapons of war against the enemy?
God desires our worship to be prepared, undistracted and fully connected with Him. In fact, we are commanded not to worship anything other than the LORD, for He is a jealous God.
We see how David unapologetically declares the importance of undistracted worship. The people took David seriously as a leader, in part, because David took the prominence and worship of God seriously.
I believe Daivd Ruiz is right on. As leaders and people in general, the way we engage the Lord in worship, speaks of the importance of His worship – His worth-ship. We give worth to God, how we give that worth, speaks of our sincerity and intention. This is self revealing to our congregation and community based on our behavior and response in public worship.
I am afraid of another self-revealing truth: when our actions show an indifference to worship, for any reason, we undercut the praise of God of which we are commanded, while denying our spiritual priority that is found in Romans 12:1, which says: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”