Where Worship Begins by Scott Wesley Brown
I really didn’t want to be there at the door. There were so many things I had to do to get ready for worship that Sunday morning. Greeting people at the front entrance was not my idea of getting prepared for the opening set of worship songs. All I could think of was, did everyone have the song sheets in the right order? Did the singers have enough rehearsal time to get those harmonies down tight? Was that monitor going to keep buzzing or did the sound guys figure it out? You know how it is before a service.
I felt some strange angelic force pulling me away from the people entering into the sanctuary. Besides these folks just wanted to get their bulletin and find a seat. Why did I need to shake their hand? Certainly I was needed backstage or up in the sound booth. But one of the pastors suggested I greet people. “We want to be a warm and friendly church,” he said. “Scott why don’t you greet the people and get to know them a little?”
So that’s where I’ve started for over a year now. Greeting people at the front door. And now it’s where I gladly head for each Sunday morning. I’ve discovered a secret. Worship starts at the front door! Now I know it starts in the heart and all that, but I’m talking practically now. Hang in there with me for a minute.
For years I thought I could sway the congregation my way on all the incredible insights I had on the best way to worship the Lord. You know…style, volume, choruses, hymns, content, liturgy, etc. I’d been leading for years. I’d been to all the conferences. I’d studied at seminary. I knew all the great new songs and I knew how this whole thing called worship should work!
And my heart truly longed for our people to engage with God. But it seemed like I was dragging them along instead of seeing them willingly follow. I used to joke that leading worship was like “pulling teeth!”
But the front door changed everything! That unseen wall that so often divides worship teams from congregations was dissipating into thin air! I was out there in their midst, shaking hands and greeting these precious people as they entered, not into my personal music hall, but into the Lord’s sanctuary!
At first some of them were shocked to see me standing there.
“What are you doing here?” some asked. “Are you ushering today?” others jokingly jested.
“No, I just wanted to say I’m glad you are here this morning!” I responded. By the way, isn’t part of a worship leaders job to usher people into God’s presence and to help them find their seat in his place?
You should have seen their expressions! It really meant something to them. And I soon discovered how many people I had never really seen, let alone met before. I sensed some of the heartache, some of the pain, some of the intimidation, some of the anticipation and hope. I shook eager hands, wet hands, shaky hands, firm hands, big hands, and little hands. Not after long some of the older women greeted me with a hug and the children with “high fives”!
A dimension of worship we musicians often forget is that doing good to others is a sacrifice of praise that pleases God. (Heb. 13:16) Worship is so much bigger than we think!
I was actually getting to know these people and they were getting to know me. All I could share from the pulpit paled in comparison to that physical touch at the front door. All the lyrics of the songs seemed to leap to life and something developed I never realized as critically important to the calling of a worship leader or lead worshiper: TRUST.
Trust is essential. It is essential to true leadership. Any good course on business skills will tell you that trust is at the core of effective leadership.
If people don’t trust us how can they follow us? For there to be leaders there must be followers. Not just people following the melody line or the order of the songs, but people following the heartbeat of the Lord.
When our congregations get to know us and we take the time to cultivate relationships, trust develops. When they get to know our hearts they become more willing to trust us and follow in our direction. And so many of the petty issues that congregations squabble over become non-issues. Worship wars are diminished. I had one fellow say that even though he didn’t particularly like some of the styles of music he liked me and knew my heart was in the right place! Sounds like a Philippians 2 moment!
In the short time God has allowed me the privilege to build these tiny relationships with our people, I’ve seen him begin to take the worship in song to places I never thought it could go. And we are no longer the band up there, but fellow members of the congregation. Real flesh and blood! Instead of hanging out in the corner or back room our praise team also mingles among our people as they enter in.
Just think. For years I poured so much energy into what happened on stage. I used all the techniques from seminars and books. But in the end, it just took a simple handshake and a smile, all at the front door, where worship begins!
Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
This article is also featured at www.oikeomusic.com (a great site for worship connections and insights)