This post is targeted at worship leaders. If you are not a worship leader, click here for an article written for you.
Revival is breaking out in various places around the US, a movement that seemed to have been birthed at Asbury University this month and is spreading to many college campuses. Most recently, people that attended the afternoon session of the NC Baptist Disciple-Making Conference this past Monday experienced an amazing move of God as hundreds filled the altar and the aisles pouring their hearts out to God. I believe revival is coming to our churches if we prepare ourselves and our congregations and seek Him expectantly.
This post is a call to my fellow worship leaders to take a lead in this movement. I ask you to not click off this page right now. Stay with me and seek God’s heart in this matter.
First of all, get alone, shut your door, turn off notifications, begin with a time of prayer asking God to guide you in the next moments, and listen to this message from Robby Gallaty delivered at the 2023 NC Baptist Disciple-Making Conference on Monday, February 20. If you are like me, you will want to take a shortcut right now; please carve out some time to listen to this without interruption and with your undivided attention.
Robby Gallaty Message from the 2023 NC Baptist Disciple-Making Conference
Following the message, take time with God to see what He is revealing to you about your life. Only after you have had time to process what God is saying to you after listening to this message, move on to the following sections.
Next, in getting ready for what God might do in revival, I encourage you to prepare in three areas–personally, your team and corporate worship.
It is interesting to me that this is all coming on top of the Lenten season, which for centuries has been a time of personal preparation and devotion. Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, is on February 22, 2023.
- Fast. All great awakenings have come from intercession. During this season, fast (give up) some things that cloud your mind or fulfill your physical desires, such as a particular type of food or beverage, social media or television. Give up some things that get in your way of focusing on or spending time with God. Instead of watching a television program or checking out your friends on a social media platform, spend time in a spiritual discipline, getting your heart set on God. Check out this excellent guide to fasting.
- Pray for spiritual awakening. Pray that God will awaken your heart. Pray that God will move mightily in your church and city. Pray that God will draw thousands of people to Himself. Pray that our churches will be ready to disciple those that come. Pray with expectancy. Here is an excellent example.
- Pray that God will reveal sin in your life. Spend time earnestly seeking God to reveal those sins in your life you may not be aware of. As you spend time in spiritual disciplines, He will reveal things about you that you may not even be aware are getting in the way of your relationship with Him. Utilize this resource that will walk you through 2 Chronicles 7:14.
- Repent of sin. There is sin in your life that you may already be aware of. Confess it and turn from it. God will help you. There are those sins that God will reveal to you in this journey that you were not aware of that you need to also deal with. Sin is a barrier to revival in our lives. Consider using the book I find helpful, The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions
- Commit yourself to holiness and obedience. Turn from questionable habits and activities. Live clean and close to God. Return to your First Love.
- Worship. Spend time in personal worship of God. Read your Bible, pray, sing to Him, play an instrument and spend time in His presence. He delights in dwelling with you one on one.
- Spend time in the Word. Take time to immerse yourself in the Word of God. Memorize some passages. Here’s a great guide to Bible memory. Perhaps find a study guide that helps you focus on renewal and revival.
- Practice times of silence. Robby mentioned this discipline in his message. The world is full of distractions and noise. It is difficult to clear our minds of clutter and just be present with God. Be strategic in carving out time to just sit and rest in His presence and hear from Him. For more ideas in this area, check out this article.
Consider reading the book, Celebration of Discipline:The Path to Spiritual Growth. The book explores the classic disciplines of Christian faith: the inward disciplines of meditation, prayer, fasting, and study; the outward disciplines of simplicity, solitude, submission and service and the corporate disciplines of confession, worship, guidance and celebration.
PREPARE YOUR TEAM
You should be leading your teams spiritually as well as musically. The following points can be done as part of rehearsals or perhaps a special time to come together to call on God.
- Encourage each person on your team to prepare themselves personally as outlined above. Talk with them about revival. Share the audio message with them (perhaps listen to it together).
- Spend time as a team praying for revival in the church. Ask that it would begin with your team.
- Discuss ways we can be ready for the spontaneous in gathered worship (see next section).
PREPARE FOR CORPORATE WORSHIP
Week in and week out, we plan worship services, selecting songs, developing media, planning transitions, determining key relationships, finding appropriate scripture passages and so much more to develop a transformative time of worship for our congregations. We usually plan our services down to the minute. For some churches that are tied to Ableton or other technologies that drive every component of worship time, God showing up can be an unwelcome distraction. This should not be.
Let’s explore ways to be ready to flex and change from the plan whenever we sense the need.
There are times that God moves in services and it is obvious that we should veer from the carefully planned course, but how do we do that, especially if our musicians are tied to charts or we are using backing tracks (STEMS)?
We need to plan for those times and rehearse that spontaneity. Here is a way to do that.
- Create a list of songs that would fit well in an extended time of worship along with the keys that are appropriate for them (congregationally-friendly keys).
- Provide charts (sheet music, PDFs, etc.) for all of your musicians for each of the songs.
- Create lyric files in your presentation software of every song on the list. Just add the songs at the bottom of the playlist or on a separate playlist that is easy to access quickly.
- Create a spreadsheet for your tech people with an alphabetical listing of all first lines of every song and the name of the song that it comes from. If there is a possibility you will begin with the chorus or bridge, create a separate entry with those first lines. With this resource, you can begin singing any of the songs on the list; the computer tech can merely scan the alphabetical listing of first lines and discover which song you have begun and quickly find where you are. For instance, if I begin singing, “Name above all names…” the technician will look on the sheet and see that is the bridge of “How Great Is Our God” and will quickly find the song and the bridge and have the words on screen for the remainder of the song. Here is an example.
- Once you have all of the above resources in place, REHEARSE spontaneity. In your rehearsal times, without announcing when you will do it, go off the plan. You might add a chorus when you were supposed to go back to a verse, or you may move to a different song. Keep your people guessing so they are ready to flex with you. This works best if you are playing guitar or keys and can transition and move yourself to another song and others join you, but if you are a vocalist that does not play, you can work with the acoustic guitar or keys player to help you in these transitions. If you are using Ableton or a click, discuss with whoever is operating the application of what spontaneity looks like for them.
Once your teams are comfortable with spontaneity, then you will be ready to flex as you sense God guiding in real time.
Additionally, consider scheduling a baptism service for Easter Sunday. NC Baptists have a special emphasis called Fill the Tank. Learn more here.
It’s easy to dismiss what is happening around us and continue as we always have, but I believe God is moving in our churches, and we as worship leaders need to be prepared as ever personally to lead our congregations in worship. We can’t lead people to a place we have not been ourselves. I hope this article will help you in navigating what that may mean for you and your teams in preparing spiritually and in worship leadership. I pray that God will do great things in your life and the life of your church!