In Psalm 34:3 David writes: “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!” This verse has a lot to teach those who desire to lead congregational worship.
First, David says “magnify the Lord”. Worship is to be God-centered and God-magnifying.
About the word “magnify”, John Piper writes:
There are two kinds of magnifying: microscope magnifying and telescope magnifying. The one makes a small thing look bigger than it is. The other makes a big thing begin to look as big as it really is.
Second, he says “magnify the Lord with me”. David is modeling what it looks like to worship God. He is setting the tone. A worship leader actually… worships God. In the midst of directing musicians, leading portions of a service, thinking about transitions, remembering details, and all of the other duties of a worship leader, there is one duty that rises above them all. That is to simply worship God.
Third, he says “…and let us exalt his name together!” David’s worship is invitational. It invites others in. He isn’t worshipping God in such a way that no one else can participate. Quite the contrary. His heart is for the congregation to join in with him in exalting the name of the Lord.
This is a model of effective worship leadership that results in fostering congregational worship. We see from David that worship should be God-centered, that worship leaders should actually be worshipping, and that worship leaders should be inviting others to join them. At its core, effective worship leading is this simple.
The more complicated job of a worship leader is to convince everyone else on the platform with him or her that they are also worship leaders. When the members of a choir, and the band, and the pastors, and the technical team all see themselves as worship leaders, and demonstrate a heart like David’s, then a congregation finds itself increasingly drawn in to exalt the greatness of God.
May we approach our worship leading roles with this heart: to see our congregations magnifying and exalting God together. Help us, Holy Spirit!