Sunday Recap – The Worship “Nugget”

On July 23, 2012 by Eddie

We’re one week away from the end of our Summer series, and it has been a blast doing so many pre-service and opening songs. They have helped turn what could have been a boring summer into something fun and memorable. This week was no different, we went to the list of requests and dug out some old 80’s singalongs. I don’t know what it is about Bon Jovi that makes their fans so passionate, but they were definitely in our audience yesterday. It’s always fun to watch people loosen up and have more fun than they thought they would, and Bon Jovi is a quick way to make that happen.

The thing that struck me most about yesterday was the way Jonathan Shelton led through the worship set in the East Auditorium. We often don’t have a lot of time to talk during transitions between songs, something that has changed gradually over the years. In a lot of ways, I’m very thankful for this change. Many times as a worship leader I feel the pressure to have to come up with some kind of “nugget,” a paragraph or two about the song or the scripture behind the song that is going to inspire people during my 10-20 minutes onstage. Some days it really would be inspiring and would come from an authentic place. Some days it would feel like a drab episode of “Storytellers” where I rambled on about a song that I didn’t actually write. Having a bit of a time crunch has forced me, and the rest of our worship leaders, to do one of two things. If you do have something you feel led to say, work hard at it to refine it and communicate it in its most simple, powerful form. The only thing that cuts down on rambling is preparation, and the time limit helps make that necessary. The other option: don’t say anything, just lead the song.

Having the option to not drop some “nugget” of wisdom has taken so much of the pressure off, and helped reduce the number of inauthentic, contrived worship-leader-y statements, at least it has for me personally. The end result has been that whenever someone does have a meaningful thought, and they’ve worked through it enough to share it succinctly, the statement means so much more. Yesterday, Jonathan’s statement about being burned by a church he grew up in was a powerful one to me. From knowing a bit about his personal story, I know he wasn’t making that up, it was a very real source of pain and disillusionment with God and the church. It is a real wound, and one that many people in the crowd no doubt have a similar experience with. I loved it, because it instantly made a connection with people in a very humble, real way, and it gave the song a new context and vitality. It was far more impactful than simply reading a compulsory passage of scripture or reciting lyrics.

So a big “thank you” to Jonathan for his courage in sharing that so publicly, for Todd in helping Jonathan craft exactly how to phrase something so personal in a brief moment, and to our entire team for putting together an incredible week while I was far away on vacation. I love this church, and I’m even more grateful for it after being a part of the service yesterday. You guys rock!

What do you think- how much should a worship leader “talk” in the middle of a Sunday set? What makes those times effective?

Set List:

Pre-Service: Free-Falling (Tom Petty)

Opener: Livin’ On A Prayer (Bon Jovi)

Worship Set: Our Great God (Casey Darnell), Never Once (Matt Redman)

3 Responses to “Sunday Recap – The Worship “Nugget””

  • Good stuff Eddie. Personally, I don’t love a ton of talking, especially if people are building a “flow”, but it is a hard thing to navigate. That’s for sure.

  • totally agree with you. Jonathan’s comments really rang true for me and came across as very genuine and heart-felt — powerful stuff. i’ve been attending NPCC for about a year and a half now,and I can tell you that on the first Sunday I ever attended (after a LONG absence from church and from God) the genuineness of the worship leaders — both in their performance and in their spoken words — made a HUGE impact on me. I remember thinking “you mean a Christian can be like THESE PEOPLE?” (and i mean that in the best possible way), and then followed by the thought “and church can be like THIS?” Like I said, huge impact. Life-changing. And truly it was how genuine and how REAL you guys were (and still are). So, thank you.

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