The Missional Mindset
In an earlier article, I asked you the tough question God keeps asking me: “Where in the Bible does it say we will win the world by getting people into church?” The answer? It doesn’t. The Bible says God’s primary strategy for redeeming the world is getting the Church into the world! “Missional” is what we are as we join God on His mission to redeem the world into relationship with Him through Christ. “Missional worship” is worship that moves us to go make disciples who make disciples.
Where does worship fit into God’s missional plan? We must realize that God created worship for Himself. Why? Is He some kind of cosmic egotist who wants everything to be about Him? No! God loves us and adores us first. Then He created worship so we can adore Him and love Him in return. He reveals His love and we have the opportunity to respond. Worship – “worth”-ship – means showing how much you value someone and it is the context for this love relationship. Real worship is the ignition key which drives our lives into daily discipleship (growing in our relationship with God through Christ) and being His missionary (sharing our relationship with God through Christ). Pretty simple isn’t it?
So what kind of worship could be considered as missional – moving us to go make disciples? Here are my 10 Commandments for Worship Leaders who want to grow worshiping disciples on mission:
1. THOU SHALT HAVE NO OTHER WORSHIP GODS BEFORE ME
The first of God’s 10 Commandments makes it clear that worship is all about God and not about us. Neither is it about style or format. If we put anything on the worship throne in place of God, He calls it idolatry. Lead your church to bring Him their all in surrender and obedience, every time, in every service. Anything else is self-worship.
2. THOU WILT NEVER TAKE YOUR PEOPLE WHERE YOU HAVE NOT BEEN
Be a worshiper every day yourself. Fall deeply in love with God. Worship means showing in every action and attitude the ultimate worth of God 24/7, not just an hour on Sunday. When you crave God’s presence every moment of every day, He will show you amazing things and take you to amazing places.
3. THOU SHALT FOCUS WORSHIP ON GOD
Point to God in everything you say and do in worship. Lead your church to sing to Him, not just about Him. Use Scripture in spoken intros or testify to God’s power – not yesterday’s sports event, or someone’s birthday, or any other distraction. Move the announcements to the front or the end of the service. Maintain a dramatic flow that moves people through the redemption story: God reveals His glory then we respond in repentance, trust, and obedience (Isaiah 6). Don’t interrupt the total focus on almighty God.
4. THOU SHALT CALL FORTH THE CALLED AND GIFTED
Every member of your team should have a calling from God to be a worshiper, a disciple and a missionary. Don’t sacrifice the team for that one who is absent from rehearsal or often arrives late. To be called by God is to be compelled by the Holy Spirit to give Him our very best at all times. Just as important as calling, every team member must be God-gifted with artistic talent. Excellence in our artistic craft is our worthy sacrifice to God. Building an effective team of musicians, artists, tech, and support is like working a puzzle (Ephesians 4). Forcing a piece into the wrong place will ruin the whole picture.
5. HONOR THY AUTHORITY STRUCTURE
God has placed those in authority over us to work His will in our lives. Usually our authority is the Senior Pastor, but could be another person or team designated by the church. Regardless of who fills this role – or their background, leadership style, and personal tastes – God is calling you to be subject to their authority. Communicate, cooperate, be teachable, and open with them as they work to lead you and your team. Serve them in return.
6. LOVE THY TEAM AS THYSELF
Jesus told His followers that the first shall be last, that the greatest will be the least. We are most like Christ when we are sharing grace with someone who doesn’t deserve it. Be graceful as you hold your team accountable. Always communicate personal issues face to face (Matthew 18:15-16). Follow an intentional process to disciple your worship team in the context of relationship. You cannot make withdrawals from someone’s “account” until you have invested in them. Involve your team, too, in planning and feedback to capitalize on their creativity.
7. HONOR THE HEART LANGUAGES OF THY CHURCH
We would all like to have one service full of spiritually mature believers who could truly worship in any style. But that won’t happen until heaven. In this life, we are wired by God to relate and communicate in languages. Styles arise from the variety of artistic languages used within cultures. Heart language is our most meaningful tool from God to connect people with him to move them to discipleship and mission. Be sure to watch your congregation during worship to see if your worship style is connecting them to God. Get feedback from others and evaluate constantly.
8. THOU SHALT NOT PERFORM
True worship is participation, not performance. If the congregation is no more than spectators, true worship is not happening. Provide participation for as many as possible, not just the platform leaders. Involve choirs, Scripture readers, prayer leaders, guided prayer, testimonies, creative arts groups, ushers, greeters, etc of all ages and ethnicities. Choose keys for congregational song that are singable by the average person.
9. THOU SHALT ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS
Plan and rehearse well to avoid sound system problems, sudden lighting changes, awkward song transitions, etc. Pay attention to the details. Video record the worship service and evaluate as a team your onstage motions, facial expression, dress, entrances and exits, attention during prayers, etc. Our right to personal expression is subject to God’s calling to connect and lead His people to Him.
10. GO YE THEREFORE…
Worship should ignite the church to discipleship and mission. If we hoard our God-given giftedness inside the church, we ignore God’s call to join Him on mission to redeem the world. Organize and empower your worship ministry to go into your community on a regular basis to build witnessing relationships. Our goal is this: Every member a missionary!