Pointing the Right Way

    Saturday I completed my first season as a sports grandparent.  Our not quite four year old grandson finished his soccer season in Upward soccer, a league made possible by the gracious folks at First Baptist Church Hendersonville.

One of the great things about Upward Soccer (and other Upward sports leagues) is that the intent of games and practices is not just “to win,” but rather to teach these kids sportsmanship and other life skills and to teach the rudiments of the game, in this case soccer.  Organized soccer for three, four, and five-year-olds most of the time could hardly be called “organized.”  It is a swarming process whereby a ball is out there on the field somewhere and children in two different colored outfits hover around that sphere in varying degrees of entanglement.  It really is pretty funny and lots of fun.  Every now and then a parent has to be reminded to keep their cool, and that reminder usually comes via “the look” from their spouse.  Grandparents, on the other hand, are quite content just to see their grandchild on the field and active.  It provides golden opportunities to yell affirmations to your grandchild.  I love it.  After all, whatever a grandchild does is great!  Or in the case of my wife’s description, “cute!”  As in.”oh, that’s soooo cute.”  In my book that is an in appropriate exclamation at a sporting event, but I digress.

At one of the last games our grandson’s team’s coaches caught on to the fact that the children may need some ongoing reminders to help them grasp the basics of this game.  That may have come just after our grandson scored a goal in the opposing team’s net, or when one of the little boys mowed over two other kids on his own team when chasing a ball that was already out of bounds.  Anyway, whatever the prompting, the coaches began an effective coaching technique.  Before a ball was put into play, they gathered the children and had them first point to the ball, then they had them point to the net that was the goal for which they were striving.  It was amazing!  The kids actually kicked the ball in the right direction.  Great coach work which made for happy parents and grandparents (for the most part).  It was important to be sure the basics were in place before these children could start progressing with more complicated skills (like passing the ball to someone on their own team instead of the other team or their grandma).

I began to muse that there was a metaphor here for the church in worship, and for worship leaders.  So often we enter a service presuming that everyone has a sense of what the objective is and where the proverbial goal lies.  The fact may well be that there are numerous goals represented by a roomful of church goers.  Perhaps like the children at the soccer game, when action begins that looks like worship, we engage in lots of busy-ness and action without a clear understanding of the true objective or the direction of this thing we call worship.  Our terminology can be as misleading as our motivations.  I have a conviction that people tend to know when we have mixed motives, and I have a deeper conviction that the Lord knows every thought and is looking into our heart continuously.

For a worship leader to be pointing the way to the object and the goal of worship, he or she must know it themselves.  We misunderstand such a concept at times to think this means we are to know what the intended outcome is to be.  One of the reasons I am not fond of some of our worship leader terms is that they imply a subtle arrogance.  A disturbing truth as stated by Frances Chan among others is that, “The fact is that without making a conscious choice to depend on the Holy Spirit, we can do a lot.”  He further states that “a growing and energetic gathering is not necessarily evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work.”  Musicians and theologians are faced with temptations to place their talents and mental abilities on display.  In doing so there may be a positive response by those so inspired.  We may have expended lots of energy and resource on assuring man’s applause or general good will, only to find that we have been moving toward the wrong goal.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. (Gal 5:16-17)


Lord, without your word we have nothing to say, and without your Spirit we are helpless.  Give us the Holy Spirit, so that we may lead your people in prayer, proclaim the good news, and gratefully praise your name.  Startle us with your truth, and open our minds to your Spirit; that we may be one with your Son our Lord, and serve as disciples, through Jesus Christ. Amen

– prayer for ministers’ worship preparation in The Worshipbook

In Christ alone,


Explore posts in the same categories: Leading Worship, Private Worship, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts, Youth Worship

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