That might have been me this morning: an over exhortative worship leader. In all of my Easter excitement I was ready to lead hundreds of hungry worshipers in exuberant praise. It's easy to lead worship on Resurrection Sunday, right? Our extra large band was all geared up to lead, and we opened with Hillsong United's classic "Glory".

Glory to the risen King
Glory to the Son, glorious Son

Lift up your heads
Open the doors
Let the King of glory come in
And forever be our God

I thought, surely everyone who participates in this song (from Psalm 24) will become as undignified as David was, leaping and whirling before the ark of the Lord. Surely we who live on this side of Jesus' resurrection will go crazy before God on this very special day. Psalm 24 was traditionally sung by the children of Israel to the gates of Jerusalem upon the arrival of the ark into the city. David might have sung this song during the procession recorded in 1 Samuel 6, when he tore off his priestly robes and danced before the ark. We came into the presence of God this morning in our Easter Celebrations. We encountered His glory in an unusually manifest way as we invited Him in.

So when there was virtually no outward expression of praise coming from the worshipers (particularly in the 9:30 and 11:00 Celebrations), not only was I shocked, but I might have tried to take it upon myself to elicit a David-like response. I do think it is good for worship leaders to sometimes lead people in physical expression and/or cognition, but too much of it could be repulsive. I wasn't telling people to lift their hands or close their eyes or anything crazy like that. I was simply hoping that the truths we were passionately declaring in our songs would compel worshipers to show their excitement. The connection was present in many of the regulars, which was encouraging. But many others literally stood still with their arms crossed, mouths closed, seemingly unmoved altogether.

I should have anticipated this. Typically, more spiritually dead people come to church on Easter. The problem was that I wasn't prepared to lead them. My unpreparedness led to what might have been insensitivity in my inter-phrasal comments. The things I say while we're singing are meant to lead people into really thinking about what they're singing. For example, before singing the line "Every knee will bow in heaven and the earth, and every eye will see the measure of your worth," I might say something like, "This is the truth." Or after singing, "Behold the Lamb in heaven! He was dead, but God raised Him from the grave," I might ask, "Do you believe this?" or "Sing it like you believe it." My tendency is: the more spiritual deadness I discern, the more exhortative I become. And physical expression, or lack thereof, is somewhat a measurement for me. This morning I was at least twice as exhortative as usual, which could have possibly been confusing or deterring to some.

I'm not being too hard on myself. I do believe God spoke what he wanted to speak this morning. I believe the Gospel broke through to many hearts this morning, despite what we saw. But I also believe I can learn from this experience, and hopefully be better prepared in my future leading. Most importantly, here is another lesson in simply trusting God to do what He wants to do when we faithfully proclaim His Good News.

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