I have always been fascinated by how certain traits tend to flow within families. Music and ministry are definitely no exception. Growing up there was always the sound of singing and music filling our home, and now my own home is no different. As I type this article, my middle son is walking through the house singing at the top of his lungs. My youngest son is in his room recording and mixing a new tune he’s been working on. I hear another child on the piano hammering out their latest piece. The sounds of music have become so commonplace in our home, my wife and I often wonder how deafening the silence will be once our kids have left the nest.
I’ve heard it said that a calling cannot be passed down. While I understand that we cannot simply ride the coattails of those who have gone before us, I do feel that there are certain aspects of ministry that can flow down to those who are waiting behind, whether that be our children or someone in our congregation with a heart for ministry. We should always be evaluating what is flowing from us to the next generation, and correct our course when needed.
Let us consider three points on this vast topic of worship. These are just a few values and lessons that I’ve learned (and still learning) that I believe are pertinent for future generations of worship leaders, as well as a needed reminder for those of us who have been at it for a long time.
Being in full time worship ministry for thirty years, naturally, I have seen many music styles and trends make their way through the Church. I have even hopped on a few myself from time to time. While I believe there’s nothing innately wrong with new ideas or current worship trends, I think we do ourselves and the next generation a great disservice if we allow these to motivate us while missing the heart of worship altogether. We must never sacrifice authentic, Christ-centered worship at the altar of cultural relevance.
Unfortunately, there are times when our focus has been on making a good impression, and we have missed the mark on authenticity. I’ve been guilty. I’m learning to recognize that in the current age we live people aren’t looking to be impressed; they are seeking a genuine encounter. It is a fact that the device they hold in their hands offers a 24/7 opportunity for them to be “wow’d.” Our worship service does not need to feel the pressure to compete. I honestly enjoy some of the extra bells and whistles we can include in our services. I just hope to challenge us all to keep them in their proper place of significance.
THE DANGER OF FAMILIARITY
When ministry takes up a large portion of our life, we have to be careful not to allow the familiar to lose its sacredness and become too mundane. After literally thousands of worship services, on a technical level, it would be easy for me to mindlessly lead a congregation in music and song. Muscle memory definitely comes into play when you’ve played the same or similar chord progressions for thirty years! I believe this can contribute to worship pastors and leaders of my generation getting to a point of frustration or a feeling of total irrelevance in ministry. Operating on autopilot is not sustainable.
The only way to avoid this is to consistently and intentionally redirect our focus to the majesty of the God we are singing about, and pursue His presence the other six days of the week. When you are leading a worship ministry, Sunday is generally “game day,” and this means our thoughts are filled with an array of technical and logistical events that make a service happen each week. If we depend solely on Sunday for our spiritual recharge, inevitably, our life and ministry will pay a price. The Monday through Saturday of our week will be what makes the difference in our effectiveness as worship leaders.
If you are just getting started in ministry, keep the pursuit of God’s presence and daily worship non-negotiable values in your life. If you are “seasoned” like me, avoid the temptation to simply coast on your skills. Continually seek the heart of God, allowing Him to keep even the all-too-familiar fresh!
SING THE GOSPEL
Hear me clearly, there is always room for another song about the Cross, the Blood, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our set lists must reflect our passion for the gospel. I know I am not the only one that needs reminding of my total dependence on the finished work of Jesus! There is something uniquely beautiful that happens when we corporately lift our voices in song, proclaiming this great Gospel of Christ, which is our unshakable foundation!
Finally, whether you are a Gen X, Gen Z, or any other Gen, let me encourage you to never stop seeking the heart of Jesus. Your worship ministry will rise to the level of your passion for Christ and His Kingdom! Stay away from “Worship Wars” (Google it), and remain intensely focused on following HIM as we lead from a place of authenticity and humility. New generations with various musical styles and preferences will come and go, but the true heart of worship must always remain sure and ever-pointing to Jesus Christ.
Landy Maughon is a songwriter and worship leader with more than thirty years of ministry. Landy, along with his wife, Stephanie and their four kids, currently lives in Winnsboro, Louisiana where he serves as the Worship Pastor at Life Church.