5 Principles for Curating Worship

Being involved in leading worship, it would be helpful to see yourself as a curator of worship. A curator is one who cares for, selects, oversees, presents, and often interprets content. The worship curator truly acts as a pastor who shepherds a team of people involved in worship leadership.

As a worship curator, it’s important to recognize that you may not be in the spotlight all the time or at all. Be humble enough to recognize and empower others. The curator selects people, content, presentation mediums, and other components that will help with two things; telling the gospel story, and inviting people into that story. Below is a brief overview of five principles that I’ve learned over the years that I will expand on in future articles. I hope they are helpful in your role as a curator of worship.

Know your place, know your role. You are perfectly inadequate for exactly how God wants to work through you. “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NRSV). Remember that the ministry is not yours. It is the Holy Spirit who is doing the leading, and you must follow intently as his grace provides everything you need to do exactly what he calls you to.

Be excellent at home, then on the stage. In the power of the Holy Spirit, pursue excellence in worship. I’m talking about trustworthiness, and being faithful and obedient in stewarding the gifts you have been given in Christ. Jesus teaches about trustworthiness in The Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:21: “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’” It has to start at home, in your personal time with the Lord, in your time with your family and loved ones. From that foundation, you can be excellent on the stage, or on whatever ‘platform’ you are leading from.

Prepare well. Preparing well means to have practiced your instrument for rehearsal, have a plan together if you’re leading the rehearsal, have an idea who will be leading what during the time of worship ahead of time. This doesn’t mean you have to actually plan everything. Maybe you have people who help plan the order and flow of worship. The point is to be intentional, plan, and prepare well. As you prepare, do it prayerfully as the Spirit leads you. Set your mind on the things of the Spirit from the beginning (Romans 8:5).

Be present. Two ways to be present as you are serving and leading others: Be aware of your presence as you are leading, and be present with those you are leading. Whether you’re on a platform or sitting behind a computer, camera, or sound booth, people are watching you. Your presence will look different depending on many factors; who you are, how you lead, what your role is, and where you’re physically leading from. The other aspect, being present with those you’re leading, means interacting with them. Depending on your role, not everyone has to worry about this all the time. When you’re involved in leading others, you can’t just zone out and do your own thing and expect people to follow. Sure, some will follow, but it’s important to lead well by paying attention to those you’re leading. Are they singing? Participating? If not, maybe clearer instruction and leadership is needed. You also need to know the people you’re leading. If you’re leading a bunch of 80-year-olds with guitar solos and drums and become disappointed when they aren’t dancing around and loving the tunes, you may have to evaluate what you’ve planned and how you’re leading them. That’s obviously an extreme example, but the principle remains.

Be led, and lead. Finally, if you’ve prepared well, being led by the Spirit, lead confidently from that place and continue to pay attention to the Spirit and how people are participating. If you need to, make adjustments. Even as you are on the platform, remember that worship doesn’t start with you. You are being led, and you lead from that place.

All of this looks differently based on tradition and expression in worship, but the principles should stick, however they’re applied. Be blessed, and join the conversation below. If you have any thoughts on these or other principles on curating worship and following the Spirit, please add a comment.

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