We are visual people, which makes us visual leaders. When we are leading others in worship, we cannot help but look for visual indicators of their level of engagement. The response we see from others can help us to determine how well a song is connecting or resonating with them. There?s nothing wrong with using what we see to help us make choices about song selection, arrangement, set lists, etc. In fact, I highly encourage you to pay close attention to the congregation and learn from their responses.
The flip side is that we cannot put too much weight on what we see. We can?t allow ourselves to be discouraged by our unmet expectations of how people should respond in worship. Our ideal scenario as worship leaders is for there to be a room full of people who ?know how to worship?, who are passionate about the Lord, and who fully engaged in the moment. But that?s not our reality most of the time is it? So, what do we do when we look out and see a lot of people who don?t seem to be engaged? How do we keep going even when it is discouraging?[quote]Worship leaders, we cannot put too much weight on what we see.[/quote]
From my experience, looks can be deceiving, and they often are. Here are a few examples of the types of people I have encountered while leading worship whose appearance did not match their experience. Maybe you can relate.
This person sits front and center every week. They come early to get that seat. Then from the first downbeat to the last cymbal crash, they stand perfectly still like a member of the Queen?s Guard. They just stare up at you and may even look slightly angry or disgusted. In response, you spend the whole time trying to avoid eye contact.
Looks can be deceiving: I have crossed paths with a number of Intimidators in my time, and without fail, each one has approached me at some point and commented on how much they enjoyed the worship time. Ha! What do I know?
From song to song, this person goes from being the most engaged worshiper in the room to the most checked out. If you sing their favorite song, they are caught up in glory. If you play something they don?t like, it looks like they are ready to walk out.
Looks can be deceiving: Once, I had a conversation with a Switcher and found that they came from a different church background. The song they engaged with was one they sang at a pivotal point in their life when they were younger.
This person comes in for one song and goes out for the next. They aren?t ushering or volunteering, so it is not clear why they keep coming in and out.
Looks can be deceiving: This one can be all over the place. Caffeine addiction? Infant bladder syndrome? Not sure. I know I spoke with one roamer who had legitimate difficulty when the music got too loud. They would wait to come in until the second or third song because it was painful for them.
This person?s ecstatic worship is consistently at an 11 from beginning to end. They are all over the place ? so much so that it may even be hard for you to focus, much less the rest of the congregation.
Looks can be deceiving: I have to be honest, I have seen many jumpers. In fact, I have been the jumper on occasion. Most of the time, this person is just honestly expressing their heart to the Lord. It depends on the context, but sometimes they don?t see that they could be a distraction to others. However, on a few occasions I have met jumpers who are more interested in drawing attention to themselves than to God.
There?s one of these precious souls in every congregation. They are the people who are ready to worship the Lord on every occasion. They don?t care about song selection or sound quality. They are just grateful to be breathing and singing.
Looks can be deceiving: I love the Anchor people in my life. When I feel discouraged or frustrated, I look to this person to remind me that it?s not about me or how I feel. It?s about pouring my heart out to the Lord regardless of the circumstance. I remember one of my favorite Anchors named Myrtle. There was a point in time when I knew she and her family were going through hell, but she was there. Unfazed. Unchanged. Unwavering in her worship.[quote]The best way to diffuse your discouragement is to get to know the stories of the people you are leading.[/quote]
I know I?ve taken a little liberty to have fun with this, but let?s be careful to not judge the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit solely by what we can see. Have faith that God is doing His work. And when you?re frustrated, don?t call your friends or co-workers to complain. Call on Jesus. Cry out to the Lord for spiritual renewal. Then go engage in conversation with the people in your congregation. The best way to diffuse your discouragement is to get to know the stories of the people you are leading.