For as much as I stress planning and intentionally when leading worship, sometimes last-minute adjustments need to be executed. Sometimes, they are made in the moment. I had taken the Doxology (Old Hundredth) and added some jazz chords and progressions. With the swing and a tempo that kept the melody moving, the arrangement brought out the exclamatory dynamic of the classic praise hymn. The worship service had gone according to plan, but took a drastic turn right before the closing song, the Doxology.
Since we were still a small church, we still invited those who had gathered together to share their prayer and praises publically. Person after person shared occasions for prayer and tragedy. The tone of worship shifted greatly. The jazz arrangement was no longer appropriate. Instead, I called an audible, into the microphone no less, announcing unbeknownst to the music team, that we were going to close by singing the Doxology acapella.
Seasons in the Valley
Worship leading during your church’s times of darkness can be very difficult. Often people can seem disengaged, not participating, disinterested even. If our goal as worship leaders is active participating, which includes all three of these, how do we understand our role during these seasons of life?
First, realize that these times are just that, they are a time, only a season. Congregations, just as individuals, go through valleys and over mountaintops.
Secondly, sometimes we must sing for our congregations. This reality can be difficult for our Western minds to grasp. We are so concentrated on our own actions and believe that we solely are responsible for ourselves that we cannot hold on to any idea of someone else doing something for us. However, since we are one body under one Head and held together by one Spirit, we can worship on behalf of one another.
There are times when our voices become voiceless, and we need others to speak up on our behalf. Since we are all priests, we can all step in for one another and offer worship for the other. And since we are all priests, you do not have to be a worship leader to sing on behalf of others. If you know of someone who is going through a tough season of life, you can sing knowing that you can sing on his or her behalf. Even if you do not know of anyone who cannot find their voice, sing knowing you are part of one Body.
Since many in our congregation were suffering themselves because of a loved one, I invited everyone who was able to sing for those who were not able to sing, or lift their voice in worship. But the Body extends beyond our local congregation. I invited the whole congregation to sing on behalf of those who are unable to find their voice across the world, widows, orphans, and those in tragedy. To this day this remains one of my favorite worship leading moments. The congregation, those who could, sang with all their might, as did the music team and I. Together, some with voices, others without, we worshiped our God that morning.
Jason Palmer is the Administrator of TalkingWorship.com. Jason has a Bachelor of Science in Ministry with a Worship Arts Major and Music Minor. He has lead worship for evangelical churches for 7 years and desires to see worship leaders become confident in their calling.