Odds are many of our readers are familiar with the story of Jesus and Peter sitting near the edge of the water after breakfast when Jesus addresses Peter. Three times Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” And three times Peter says “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus responds, “Feed my lambs”, “Tend my sheep”, and “Feed my sheep”.
What does this mean for worship leaders?
Many of us have a musical background, some even with music training. In many of our churches we perform music during the Sunday morning gathering. So how do musicians “feed the sheep”, or the congregation?
You are already feeding and tending the congregation.
First, we must establish that worship leaders, whether they think that they are in a position to tend congregations or whether the pastor or anyone else thinks they do, worship leaders do in fact feed and tend the congregation (as does the rest of the music team, but that is for another post) .
Whether by right or not, by being in front of the congregation, worship leaders play a part in this shepherding role. Worship leaders often invite the congregation to worship, to sing songs which they selected, to listen to Scripture, pray on behalf of the congregation, and depending on the worship of the church, invite the congregation to participate in other forms of worship such as creeds, corporate prayer, confession, etc.
Worship leaders have a part in feeding and tending their respective congregations.
Feeding and tending the congregation through our approach.
With this in mind, how do worship leaders feed and tend the congregation within their role? Allow me to put this out there first,that in matters of polity, or church governance, the worship leader often serves underneath the senior/head pastor or rector, meaning worship leaders are in fact leaders, but they are also followers and servants.
We need to understand that by leading songs and leading other forms of worship, we are in fact tending and feeding our congregations. Do we often think in this way? Probably not. However, if you are going to be a life-giving worship leader, you must approach your leadership in this way. My leading different forms of worship, you are feeding and tending the congregation.
Approach is another way we feed and tend our congregations. Worship leaders should not take on postures of grumpiness, absent-mindedness, pridefulness, or any other “-ness” you can add (what is your “-ness”?). Rather, tending and feeding our congregations requires a posture of thankfulness, humility, and listening.
The question then becomes, how do we attain this life-giving posture? The classic two-fold way is through Scripture reading and prayer. This is the central practice of every Christian life. If you are not daily practicing Scripture reading and prayer, turn that corner today.
Also, begin to recognize God’s presence in your life moment by moment. If you want to read a great witness to this reality, check out Brother Lawrence. For many of us, this is incredibly difficult, but that is no reason to shy away from this discipline. Continue striving to recognize God’s presence in our lives, in your life, moment by moment. Daily Scripture reading and prayer will assist you in this discipline.
What step will you take to better tend and feed the congregation?
Maybe you are thinking that this article was not as practical as you had hoped. I am sorry this may be the case. However, you are already feeding and tending your congregation within your worship leader role. The question is how well are you feeding and tending your congregation. Keep in mind, this most certainly includes what you do in worship or how you do worship. Worship design does have an essential part for worship leaders (and pastors!) in shepherding congregations, however, the scope and purpose of this article does not extend that far.
Prayerfully consider your role in tending and feeding your congregation. Who knows? You may provide a sense of renewal, refreshment, and life in your church.
Jason Palmer is the Administrator of TalkingWorship.com. He has a Bachelor of Science in Ministry and is currently studying for the Master of Divinity degree. Jason currently leads worship for Glenn Street Church and has lead worship for evangelical churches for 8 years and desires to see worship leaders become confident in their calling.