Journey to the Heart of Worship: Transitioning from Chorister to Worship Leader
by Dave Schwinghammer
I was eight years old when I led my first song service. I remember how nervous I felt, hoping the congregation would be happy with what I did. Of course, I can’t remember the songs we sang, but I do remember that most, if not all, of my focus went into trying to please the congregation. I’ve learned over the years that there is a difference between leading in the singing of random favorites and actually leading worship.
I researched over 300 Bible verses that had direct reference to worship in an attempt to find out what the worshippers actually did. It soon became evident that when the Bible talks about worship, it refers to an action of response. Whether translated from the Hebrew or Greek, the word “worship” is always an action verb. The responses varied in three ways: responses of respect, responses of real life service and responses of ritual at a specific time and place. In most accounts the worship, responses were made directly to God (first person).
This broadened my paradigm of only trying to please the congregation. Now I prayerfully develop a journey through song with a twofold purpose: 1) to engage the congregation in a journey of worship in the presence of God, and 2) to present an offering of worship to God, in song, that represents an authentic response.
The songs I now select are designed to first tell a story or paint a picture of who God is and what He has done and continues to do (third person). Then, I select songs that are designed as a response from the heart (first person). The journey of worship varies in style and tempo, but the focus and purpose remains the same: God!