Any time that you deal with people, things get messy…
There really is a fine line between communication and manipulation – actually, a very blurry fine line, if that’s even possible. In fulfilling our job to lead worship (to really help people engage in worship), there are two primary schools of thought. Let me use their extreme examples to highlight the difference. One is the “I’m worshipping God privately here, and everyone can watch me doing that, and that that will inspire them to do the same, because I’m so worshipful.” The other is the “I’m a worship cheerleader, hey I can’t hear you, you’re not singing loud enough, hey, I’m talking to you, person in the 5th row!”
I don’t have the perfect answer. I’ve headed too far in both of those directions at various times over the years, but my gut feeling is that there really needs to be a balance. It’s kind of a representation of the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, if you will – a call to worship God above all, and a call to care for those around us. It also is a call to be a part of a community. I really am kind of distressed how attached to our gadgets we are, and how alone we can be, even in the midst of a crowd… Worship in community – praising God, encouraging each other – is better than that. It’s good for our, souls, and is just – well – right.
We need to communicate God’s love to each other, to support each other, and to help each other walk away from our pain, temptations, weaknesses and hardships (even our boredom). This takes worship leaders who will look us in the eye and show God’s love, all while actually showing love back to God. Not put on a show (i.e.. manipulate), even though everything in our culture pushes us in that direction. Not close off the world, because that locks out the very people God wants us to show His love to. It’s not easy to get it right. In fact, it’s impossible to do without God. But we all need real worship leading – and leaders – desperately.