So far this week we’ve looked at how worship leaders will communicate with their congregations more effectively if they first think it through and write it down, and secondly, submit to their pastor. Too many worship leaders do neither and end up making something up on the spot. Sometimes that works, but most times it doesn’t. Devoting time to prepare what you’re going to say, and seeking to do it under your pastor’s covering are two important steps. The third thing to keep in mind when you’re communicating with the congregation is to use the right tone.
Don’t Talk Down to Them
Some worship leaders do this without even realizing it. When they speak to the congregation it sounds as if they’re a Kindergarten teacher on the first day of school.
Here are some examples: “Good morning everybody. I said good morning everybody!” “That’s some great singing this morning, church.” “”Are you ready to worship – I mean really worship?” “Let me hear you a little bit louder now!” “I’m going to teach you a new song, OK?” “How is everyone doing this morning? Are you alright? Good.” I could go on. You may have used some of these phrases yourself (I have) or know of other ones. It’s not a good idea to talk down to your congregation for a number of reasons.
First, it could be a symptom of a prideful attitude of your heart. The congregation will pick up on this, but even if they don’t it will hinder your leading because “God opposes the proud…” (James 4:6b, ESV). You are in your position to serve the congregation, and to help shepherd your fellow sheep. Ask God to humble you and help you love the congregation you serve.
Secondly, even if your substance is good, if your tone is bad the congregation won’t hear what you have to say. They’ll stand there and wait for you to stop talking so the service can move on.
Thirdly, in the words of Paul in I Corinthians 13:4-5, ESV: “Love is patient and kind, love does not envy or boast, it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful…” When you speak to the congregation, it should be in a loving tone. Paul says in I Corinthians 13:1, ESV: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” Like I said in my post “”How to Handle the Sunday Blues”: noisy gongs make lousy worship leaders. No one likes listening to them.
Fourth, you might not mean to speak this way – but you’re just being sloppy. Listen back to yourself and see what you think.
Don’t Be Scared of Them
Some of you are very uncomfortable saying anything before, in between, after, or during songs. Just standing in front of the congregation is nerve-wracking enough and you’re just getting comfortable singing into a microphone. Others of you are very comfortable speaking to the congregation and don’t feel nervous at all.
To those of you who start sweating at the thought of speaking to the congregation, let me encourage you from II Timothy 1:7, ESV: “…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self control.” You should be nervous speaking to the congregation on your own – because you’re not able to do it on your own. But knowing that the Holy Spirit lives in you should give you boldness, “power and love and self control” enough to confidently speak to the congregation. Pray that the Holy Spirit would indeed enable you to speak with that balance of power and love and self control.
If you come across as fearful when you speak to the congregation, again, you run the risk of causing people not to hear your substance, however good it might be. The congregation will be nervous for you, feeling bad for you, and mostly distracted. Try not to use a tone of timidity when you speak. Use your normal voice, don’t talk too fast or slowly, don’t use a lot of “uh’s” and “um’s”, make eye contact, smile, and try to look as relaxed as comfortable as you can. You might need to fake that last part – but it will be good practice.
To those who are not nervous at all – let me warn you not to allow yourself to fall into the trap of thinking that you don’t need to rely on the Holy Spirit’s power whenever you stand before the congregation. This mindset creeps in slowly over the weeks and months and will lead you to a train wreck. Pray that you would be aware every Sunday of your complete need and reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit. Confidence is good – but never when it’s in our own abilities.
“Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’”
I Corinthians 1:31, ESV
Seek to speak to your congregation with a tone of humble confidence in your voice and in your countenance. Your fellow sheep will notice and be glad.
Tomorrow we’ll look at how important it is that whatever you say is based on the Word of God.