Follow Up: Law of the First Date

Yesterday I met with a fellow pastor and was showing her around the site a little bit.  As I explained to her the Law of Dynamic (a.k.a. Law of the First Date), she asked me if in following such a method, would we be in danger of trying to force the Holy Spirit, or force human reaction, and actually remove the leading of the Holy Spirit.

As I started to understand what she was asking, and though I responded a little bit then, it seemed like a great opportunity for a follow up post.

  • Theory versus formula 

I started off by explaining that the article was intended as a sort of crash course in musical dynamics, rather than a how-to in worship leading.  If you read the original post, you’ll remember that I mentioned how I actually had to drop some of the Laws and move towards the more basic Theories, thus the title, Worship Theory.  This was actually one of those laws left out.  One of the wordplays in the title is that the notes, chords, rythms, etc., of music are actually referred to as “theory.”  If this book ever does see store shelves, you’ll quickly find out that it is specifically written to make worship leaders and worshipers think about and develop worship, rather than listing the um-teen steps towards a perfect worship service.  One of the mantras of the book is that devising and strictly following step-by-step formulas for worship puts us down a dangerous path.  So I hope you don’t take the Law of the First Date as rule, but as suggestion.

  • The worship leader and preparation

Here is a lesson that if you have not learned as a worship leader yet, you must make it a priority.  Long before you take up the microphone to lead a song service, before you enter the doors of the church, before you go to bed the night before, I hope you have prepared yourself for what you are going to do.

Worship leading is both a privilege and a responsibility.  When you get into the driver’s seat of your car, you have passed a written and driving exam, and have been given the “green light” from your state/province.  You drive knowing that you shouldn’t drink and drive, let pedestrians have the right of way, and if you are in an accident, you have a share in the responsibility for those in your care and those involved.  If you break the law or constantly endanger yourself and/or others, because you denied or disregarded your responsibility, you would soon find yourself stripped of the privilege of driving a car.

In worship leading, it is our privilege to take the hearts of the members of our congregations, point them towards God, and leave them in His hands.  But as we are responsible for proper theology, appropriate song selection, and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, we must spend in prayer and worship on our own.  Only then can we learn to hear, see, and feel the moving of the Spirit. 

  • Preparation leads to Spirit sensitivity 

This prayerful, experience-based sensitivity then allows for the rise and fall of the music to be led not so much by personal prescription or pre-determined direction, but by the leading of God for His people.

If you were to sit down with some of the worship teams I’ve worked with over the years and ask them about my style and how practices affect the actual service, you’d likely find out that things don’t always go as planned.  Sometimes I’ll prepare a list of songs a few days in advance, and just before (or sometimes during) the service, I’ll change one or two of them.  I may look scatterbrained, but really I am just following the leading of the Spirit.  He doesn’t use a deep voice speaking through the PA system.  Sometimes it’s just a sudden feeling that something doesn’t work, or a feeling inside that says, “No, no, that’s not right…”  Then there are those times when we practice going in and out of songs a particular way, and as the service unfolds, all of that disappears, and I just go with the flow.  Even though we spent ten minutes practicing a transition, in the thirty seconds between songs I’ve changed my mind and gone in a different direction.

  • We are human, after all

Am I perfect though?  No, I’m not.  I’ve had team members tell me they felt to go a different way then I went.  That’s going to happen, and really that’s cause for a different post.

The point is that a worship leader must be a man or woman of prayer and worship personally, having developed a sensitivity to the Spirit of God, long before he/she takes the stage to “lead” worship.

  • Worship versus performance

One of the main concepts behind the Law of the First Date is to help us to remember that worship is not a performance, it is an emotional experience.  Sometimes we like to give everything out at the top of our longs because we think that is what gets people excited.  The truth is, since we are all different, we all respond differently to God in worship.  (That’s the Theory of the Individual.)  In utilizing dynamics, from soft and quiet to clap-happy and boisterous, we provide a better atmosphere for the different personalities in our congregations to truly worship, and not just be entertained.