When Jesus was in front of the crowd, he always had compassion on them (Mt. 9:35, 14:13). As worship leaders we need to have compassion from the stage and here are a few practical thoughts about it:
1. Remember that it’s God who does the work in people’s hearts. He might use our smile, voice, welcome, song, conversation or attitude as a catalyst, but the congregation is His. Know why you are up there in the first place – to help focus people’s attention on God. You, as the leader, joined with the congregation are giving worship to God.
2. Pray before you serve in your ministry leadership role. Pray for the people that you will be leading, for their hearts and for their connection and communion with God. And pray for the team that will be serving. Don’t ever fall into the trap of thinking that we don’t need a “trite prayer” just before going on stage to serve in this capacity. Coming before the Lord is never trite – even if it is only a brief time just before worship begins. And many times, I invite our group to pray at the end of worship too.
3. Compassion from the stage begins with a unified worship team – be in community with the group so that you can model the body of Christ at work. One of things I teach our traveling team is that you never give an order to a sound guy without first saying his name. If don’t know his name, then that’s the first step – find out the person’s name then ask to have yourself turned up in the monitor. Also, serve together as a team, if possible, outside of leading music for weekend worship services.
4. No water bottles on stage while leading congregational singing – unless the whole congregation has a bottle of water. If we are inviting everyone to sing the whole time, then why is it only the band that has a water bottle? It’s a reminder to us that we are only in front as the leaders, not performers. We are all involved in singing praises to God. (I have changed my tune a bit on this since having to have vocal chord surgery, but it’s still a concept that I think about).
5. Compassion on stage is closely tied to being in community with the people you lead. Look for ways to build community in the body of Christ. Be a part of a small group, bible study, class, regular worship service.
6. Stage presence isn’t limited to leading on Sunday morning… but also with your heart as you live among your family, friends and co-workers. There is often more truth in the unrehearsed word than in the rehearsed ones.
7. Smile – allow God’s presence to shine through you.
8. Humility – understand that in 50 or 60 years, there’s a good chance that the church will still be ministering and you probably won’t be up there.
8. Dress – thinking of the congregation you are ministering to and with and willingly comply with guidelines of the worship team.
9. Attitude – should be the same a Christ Jesus (Phil. 2)
10. Song Choices – should be aimed at helping connect the congregation to God and not to suit the whims of musicians (I’m not saying don’t keep the music fresh, but also remember that for every time the congregation has sung the song, you have probably sung it 30 times in rehearsals, practices and sound checks).
11. Align the worship style with congregation – at times they church needs challenged and stretched in worship. But at other times, they need brought along lovingly – that’s where compassion comes in. That’s also probably why old hymns will always be used in some manner.
“Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are–face to face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not apiece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.” 2 Cor. 3:16-18 (The Message)