What is leading worship (music)?

At Revolution, I find myself in charge of the worship music experience.  I think I’ve been fairly successful, and as I continue in this work, my communication abilities are sure to improve.  My vision for a sound that is unique to Revolution has not yet caught on, but I think mostly that has to do with the fact that we are not all comfortable with each other.  Many of the musicians at Revolution come from wildly different musical backgrounds as far as tastes, interests, experience, and skill.  For example, I have nearly 16 years of experience on the bass, but Luke, only 16 years old, has more skill.  Our tastes are different (he plays a lot of complex stuff, I play simpler stuff), and some people probably prefer his style while others prefer mine.  I prefer when he plays guitar and I get to back him on bass because he wails.

I have played worship music since college, with Here Today and occasionally with Bryan Holt at Spotsy Pres. before landing at Common Ground where I played for six years.  I then did a guitar stint at Centerpoint Church in Annapolis before moving to a leader position at Revolution.  I didn’t start listening to worship music actively until probably 2007, when at the smelly house of Ed, Jon, Drew and David, Julia Owens sat me and Chris Glass down to watch a video of Hillsong United playing live.

It was a “whoa” moment in my musical history.  I was so familiar with the very quality, catchy recordings of Chris Tomlin and the like and while I appreciated and even liked the songs, they failed to move me upon listening.  The visceral performance of Hillsong United (later also seen in various other groups), helped open my eyes.  Now, I listen to worship music regularly.  Thanks, Julia.

I still haven’t figured out how to stay on top of worship music, though.  How do I keep myself on the cutting edge?  I certainly isn’t by listening to “family-friendly,” “positive hit” radio, which is marked by its five to ten year delay between release and airplay.  (My frustration with the descriptors Christian radio uses is well documented verbally and perhaps the subject of an upcoming blog.) 

I am also finding it difficult to stay abreast of what is happening in the theory of worship worldwide.  I’m not saying that as things change in other churches, it will necessarily change for me, but it is good to know what is going on and invite the exposure to new ideas, concepts and practices.

Before I continue, let me tell you something about myself.  I have ideas coming out my ears.  I can’t sleep sometimes because they pile up on my pillow and I can’t get comfortable.  I don’t always execute my ideas, but the longer I go without executing, the more I think about it.  I have three or four church related ideas that are frequently in the forefront of my mind these days.  One was addressed in my last post.  One is addressed below.

To this end, I’m looking at planning a Worship Summit.  Hopefully this will be something that can be reproduced year after year, but for the first one, I will probably invite some people to talk on a variety of topics and invite some worship leaders I know to bring their bands.  My vision is that it will be an all-day event that is sort of a combination of lecture-based workshop, open panel discussions and even some performance.

I hope to sit down with Josh Burnett and brainstorm some location ideas and potential speakers.  If you have a location idea, or would be interested in participating, PLEASE TELL ME!  That is the biggest hurdle to doing this.

Here are some topics I was thinking about.  Please use the comments section to add more ideas:

-Leading worship is LEADING A CONGREGATION to worship.
-Leading worship is MUSICAL.
-Leading worship is SPIRITUALLY FOCUSED.
-Leading worship is COLLABORATIVE.

Interspersed in the day, we could have “Here’s what we’ve been playing” sessions where different groups could play a couple songs and possibly receive feedback (maybe).



3 thoughts on “What is leading worship (music)?

  1. I love reading you thinking through this stuff!! I am challenged especially by the “prioritizes excellence” part haha. I have SOME experience with worship summit type things – you know I have been wanting to do one for like years. I would love love love to be a part of planning/conceiving/executing.

  2. Matt,

    It is awesome to have you as the worship leader at Revolution. I can’t think of anyone who I would rather collaborate with to help people come to know Jesus and worship him better! You rock dude. Plus I can’t wait to see how the worship summit is going to turn out. Should be incredible.

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