Let’s say you’re leading worship and you’re about to wrap up a chorus, when you notice a guy who had been sitting on his hands for the whole song just start to stand up and put his hands in the air in worship. Is it OK to make an adjustment in your leading and extend the song just for that one person? Yes it is.
Why do you think you just happened to look out and see that guy about to stand up just at the same time you were about the stop the song? Do you think that when you prayed before the service that God would guide you that he actually heard you prayer? He’s answering it by directing your gaze to someone in the room who’s counting on your sensitive leadership.
It’s one thing to learn how to scan a room and read a large group. It’s another thing to look at individuals in your congregation, each of whom is dealing with a wide range of swirling emotions, pressures, physical ailments, fidgety kids and text messages all in the course of a 75 minute service. Your job isn’t just to aggregate all of these different people’s responses into one stream of input and then based on that one stream of input decide what the Holy Spirit is saying. Your job is also to have the presence of mind and sensitivity to adapt to individual promptings the Holy Spirit provides through directing you to look at a particular person.
I find myself, when leading worship, expecting the Holy Spirit to give me direction in powerful, thunderous, unmistakeable ways. But he doesn’t often do that. More often, his direction comes through a gentle whisper, an impression that I know came from elsewhere, or a very down-to-earth source like a dude just about to stand up when I’m about to stop, or communion taking too long so I can’t get loud when I planned to, or a missing slide so I have to skip a verse, or a comment from a parking volunteer about a song he really wishes we’d sing again.
Be on the lookout, the next time you lead, for ways God might be sending you signals through one person in the congregation, or one situation you can’t look past. If you catch these simple signals, the result just might be you making some adjustments that end up serving the whole congregation better.