A few weeks ago, Karen and I had a snorkeling adventure like no other. We went snorkeling right off the beaches in St. Marten, St. Thomas USVI and Nassau, Bahamas. At one point, at Couki Beach, I was snorkeling right over scuba divers below me. For a long time, I followed them, straining to see what they were discovering about 25 feet below me. To go snorkeling, all you need is a mask, a snorkel, fins and some clear water with a view. To go deeper, there is more training and equipment... Karen and I are completely content to snorkel. There’s no big commitment, just us tooling around with our flippers looking at the colorful fish hoping our backs don’t get sunburned, which I am still pealing from... But, what if there is something even more beautiful that lies deeper and farther than we can see from the top? What if there is an entire world under the ocean, the vastness of which we cannot comprehend? What if we’re missing something so much more amazing because we are snorkeling on the surface?
If we had diving gear, we would not be restricted to the length of our snorkel. We would instead be able to dive down into the deep, swim with awe inspiring ocean life and experience the view of magnificent coral reefs and countless treasures of the sea that would probably take our breath away... But I would not know. As a snorkeler, I have seen incredible views, but by staying on the surface, I can only assume that there is more. But for those who have donned a wet suit and tank and caught a glimpse of what lies much farther beneath, they are driven to return, time and time again. I have been told that once you get a taste for what the experience of diving can be, nothing less will cut it.
I had a thought... What if we looked at worship in a similar way? For over 30 years I have helped develop Youth Group Worship Bands and been part of Church Worship Teams. If you think about it, the act of leading worship songs is kind of easy, in the same sense that snorkeling is easy. Anyone can learn how to do it. All you need is to play an instrument and/or carry a tune. While it is a beautiful experience, it really does not take a great deal of effort for one who is gifted. Leading worship songs and being a lead worshiper are not the same, however. Being a lead worshiper is a calling from God that comes with the anointing to do what He has called you to. There is a weightiness that comes with it. It carries a responsibility. This mantle of Lead Worshiper demands to be stewarded well. What if, like those who invest in training so they can go diving, Lead Worshipers invested some time and energy into obtaining some formal training in worship leadership? What if we found a mature, godly worship leader or pastor to mentor us? What if, like the diver who carefully inspects his gear before jumping off the boat, lead worshipers took the job seriously and were intentional about every aspect of choosing songs, building a set, rehearsing the band, leading, discipling those in the band? More important, if no one showed up for a worship service, would we worship none the less? With the same passion and desire for pleasing God with our song? Or would we just be satisfied with getting the tune just right.
Lead Worshipers have the privilege of creating an atmosphere where people can engage personally and corporately with the God of the Universe. If we approach it lightly, as if with only a snorkel, we will stay at the surface level of simply leading worship songs. We will miss so much more of what God intended for worship between the Creator and the created one to be. If we truly understood that, we might just find ourselves discovering a rich, vast, awe inspiring wonder that we have never known before. And when we do, we will never be the same. Snorkeling and Worship, I like them both very much... What is down deep? God created a world of people that want to go there. We can not lead any further than we go ourselves. Going deep will require that "I" go deep and do what it takes to enjoy what God has placed there to enjoy. Then I will not be satisfied until I have brought others to the experience of only pleasing God with my Worship.