As worship leaders, we desire our churches to be “engaged” during worship services. We want to visually see people pouring their hearts out to God and authentically bowing before Him. When we don’t see this taking place, we sometimes take it personally and feel it’s a reflection on us as worship leaders. We assume we have done a poor job leading and question our abilities as well as our calling. At times, we may even have thoughts like “they don’t get it – why can’t they just worship?”
This perspective presents a significant challenge for us as worship leaders. It can be extremely frustrating and even discouraging at times if we do not have a clear understanding of the types of “worship temperaments” existing in our churches.
From a musical perspective, there are four types of worship temperaments. To help illustrate this, we have created four characters that represent each of these four types.
First, there is “Lyrical Larry.”
Lyrical Larry is the person that would say, “The words of the songs mean so much to me. I really feel God speaks directly to me through these words.” Lyrically Larry is deeply moved by the lyrics and listens very attentively to them. He loves to hear all the words and can easily become frustrated when the instrumentation is so loud the lyrics cannot be understood.
To more effectively connect with Lyrical Larry, consider the following:
Occasionally read or talk about the lyrics between songs to give them additional time to reflect on the words.
Identify scripture that closely ties with the lyrics to point them back to God.
Make sure lyrics are easily seen on the screen or in print and not distracting by a background that washes the words out.
The second “worship temperament” can be found in “Musical Mary.”Musical Mary is drawn close to God through the instrumentation more than the words. She may say, “The richness and fullness of the instruments makes me feel as if I am very close to God.” Musical Mary can easily become emotionally excited when the instrumentation is louder than the lyrics. She can also become frustrated when the instrumentation is turned down while the lyrics remain loud and dominating.
You can more effectively connect with Musical Mary by doing the following:
Verify each instrument can clearly be heard in the songs and throughout the worship area.
Create greater dynamic differences throughout the songs to enhance the musical feel and experience.
Look for creative ways to occasionally incorporate new instruments into worship sets, whether it is using existing members or from people outside the church.
The third “worship temperament” is seen in “Hurry-up Harry.”
Hurry-up Harry is not musically inclined and in many ways could not care less about the musical portion of worship. Hurry-up Harry often comes in late to the worship service to avoid the music and may say “Music is not really my thing: I just want to get through it so I can hear the message/sermon”. This is the hardest worship temperament to reach, but even HurryUp Harry can be moved through the musical portion of worship.
To engage Hurry-up Harry, try the following:
Reference specific lyrics that reflect and compliment the sermon, either before or after singing the song.
Regularly remind your church that God is the object of our worship. Music is aconduit used to worship God.
Share scripture that demonstrates people singing to the Lord (i.e. Psalm 104:33 – “I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.”)
The fourth and final “worship temperament” is represented by “Balanced Barry.”Balanced Barry is usually a studier of music and has a great appreciation for a well-balanced musical environment. Balanced Barry may respond, “The instrumentation and lyrics sound so tight together, I feel as if I am in the presence of God. What an awesome experience!” He will not comment often because this type of worship environment does not occur frequently for him. Balanced Barry also has a tendency to be overly critical, compared to the average person, when there are even minor musical issues. He can also get discouraged because of his desire for excellence, both instrumentally and lyrically. (Note: Most people, especially worship leaders, initially believe they are a ‘Balanced Barry’. While this may be true, many times a deeper assessment will reveal that an individual has a different, more prominent worship temperament.)
To connect more with Balanced Barry, consider the following:
Work with your sound team to provide the greatest mix throughout the worship area. Test various locations to verify the blend of lyrics and music is optimal.
Include Balanced Barry in conversations of ways to improve the music overall.
Seek a Worship Consultant on how to improve your church’s worship experience.
While understanding our worship temperaments is important, solely focusing on them can lead us to become distracted from worshipping God. We need to teach our churches what authentic worship is truly about. Help them to look for the face of God and listen for His voice rather than evaluate the music. Model for them that we should be worshipping throughout the week and the overflow of our worship is done when we meet as a community of believers. Share with your church biblical truths about people throughout scripture who used music to bring glory to God. Encourage your church to do the same.
At the end of the day, it is important to remember that God is our only audience.
Recognize who God has made you to be and authentically worship Him. Let God take control of others in their worship and simply pour yourself out to God. Others will follow as God leads them.