Better You, Better Worship (Pt. 6)

Applause is a dangerous drug. The desire for the approval of an audience can skew so much of what we do as worship leaders. This is an issue I’ve personally dealt with for decades and I see it creeping into the consciousness of our younger leaders. I don’t blame them. We’re taught from the get-go that when we do something awesome, some sort of praise is our reward. Hundreds or even thousands of people cheering and applauding after you sing - a “reward for doing something awesome” - can make a diva of anyone.

Obviously, we do what we do because God has called us and as musicians we can express our love to Him in a way that garners more attention than most. We know that God shares His glory with no man. Worship leaders are instructed to deflect the praise of man and direct everything toward God. If you’re wrestling with the issue of artist vs. worship leader, take a moment and read this.

The knee-jerk reaction - let’s quit putting together such awesome worship sets. But we want to be awesome at what we do, right? Let’s not quit trying because the applause might taint our hearts. We just need to balance things out and bring needed perspective to who we are and why we do what we do. Finding ways to SERVE without the immediate satisfaction of a cheering crowd is a great antidote. Here are a few things we’ve been doing recently...

Get off the stage.
Stages are almost always several feet above the crowd. I believe that in a psychological way, this allows us to look down on the people we’re serving every week. When appropriate, we leave the stage for mid-service meet and greets which gets us eye-to-eye with those in the room. We also budget time before the service for our team to get into the room and say hello to those they will be leading.

Get out of the green room.
The green room was a refuge for me when I toured, and it tends to be one on the weekends as well. I’m glad we have one but when it becomes an exclusive hangout area, it becomes a problem. We encourage our team to get out into the lobbies between services and meet people, get to know their stories, gain a perspective that the green room or the stage doesn’t provide.

Get out of the church.
We began scheduling serving opportunities 3-4 times a month at retirement homes, recovery centers, food banks, children’s hospitals, etc. I’ve seen some beautiful things in our worship leaders as they sing, serve, and pray for those that can’t repay us. It’s become one of the things we look forward to the most each week.

How do you deal with this issue? What is your applause antidote?

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Andy Chrisman
Worship Pastor
Andy came to Church on the Move in 2005, having been in the music industry for over 25 years. He's dedicated to raising up the next generation of worship leaders, and even though he spent many years with the group 4him, he says he's "having more fun now than I ever did on the road."