by Bryson Breakey (“Author of My Life” Featured Artist)
If you have ever spent much time on a stage—helping on a worship team or leading in some capacity—you have probably had a similar conversation to the one I’m about to describe. It usually happens in more of a conference setting where they really go all out to have the glam-rock-Coldplay-concert worship environment with fog machines and strobe lights (which somehow we’ve decided is anointed), or it could happen any given Sunday at your local church body. It’s the conversation where the young guy or girl comes up to you and tells you that they are just learning an instrument, or getting started in worship and want to know how they can do what you’re doing. The question can be worded a few different ways but the heartbeat is the same. “How can I increase my anointing as a worship leader?” (side note: Just to be clear, when I refer to “worship leaders,” I mean everyone from the one with the mic to the one playing aux percussion.)
There are great practices to put in place to become a better musician, or a better team member, but when it comes to increasing the anointing of your worship, my answer is always the same. Start a small group.
It’s not a very glamorous answer, but I believe it’s the truth. Here’s why:
MAKING DISCIPLES WILL GROW YOU AS A CHRISTIAN
I think it’s pretty safe to say that better Christians make better worship leaders. I’d rather have someone who loves God leading me than someone who can do runs like Beyoncé. When you choose to make disciples, you will be challenged in your faith because you’ve taken on a new role in someone’s life that will put a holy pressure on you to get some things in order that aren’t right now. You are going to be more in line with God’s mission on the earth, so you’ll be able to be more in line with God’s mission in that moment as you lead worship.
MAKING DISCIPLES WILL GROW YOU AS A LEADER
I once heard a man talking about how people would tell him how anointed he was when he led worship, and his explanation to why he was anointed was that he spent so much time with his guitar singing to God in his room during the week. Because he spent so much time in the secret place, offering to God musical worship, when he was on stage it was just an extension of his personal time with the Lord.
That’s a valid thought process and I’m sure it’s true; however, it’s not the school of thought I subscribe to. You can spend hours every week worshiping by yourself and not grow as a leader—and not help anyone else learn how to worship.
When you’re making disciples, you aren’t just teaching people how to worship with their instrument, you’re teaching them how to worship with their lives. And in that process, you grow in your ability to lead people because you have time every week that you’re rubbing shoulders with messy, broken people, reminding you that we’re all messy, broken people, encountered by a perfect, loving God. The congregation you lead in worship moves from being a sea of silhouettes to real people that are figuring it out just like you.
(Please note: The secret place is important. I’m not telling you to stop worshiping God in private. That’s a big deal. But if you view that as your only worship to God during the week, you will always feel like you’re not doing that enough and become a worship hermit that doesn’t have a lasting impact. Our faith is personal, but it’s not private.)
MAKING DISCIPLES WILL CHANGE YOUR PRIORITIES
When I was a young worship leader, I would spend hours in my room having fantastically emotional times of worship. And as a result, I really had a skill for creating an emotional worship atmosphere when I would lead. If you’re wanting that hyper-emotional worship experience, you probably stopped reading this when we started talking about discipleship. But if you want to have times of worship that have ongoing impact in people’s lives, you must make disciples.
It’s simple, but imperative that you understand this when you lead from a platform. What worship means to you, it will mean to them. If you view worship as a time for people to cry their eyes out and make decisions they’ll go back on tomorrow, you’ll probably find a way to do that well but what you demonstrate is what you will duplicate, and I want the students I lead in our youth ministry to view worship as a refill and launching pad to go change the world. So we pick songs that talk about going and being His light, and we pray during worship that God would use us to reach our schools. And as a result, we have students who share the Gospel with their friends and lead life groups.
Making disciples will show you that the Christian life is way bigger than a twenty-minute worship set once a week.
If you want Jesus to show up in your worship, make disciples. He promises in the great commission when he says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV)
Jesus draws this line between discipleship and His presence and I believe that if you have His presence when you worship, you don’t have to worry about how anointed you are or aren’t. I believe that God is just as honored on Tuesday at Starbucks when I’m with my small group as He is on Sunday at church in front of a microphone.
About the Author:
Bryson Breakey helps lead the youth ministry at Bethel World Outreach Church—an Every Nation church in Brentwood, TN—and is a songwriter in the Every Nation Music community. Growing up in the Seattle area, he now lives in Nashville with his beautiful wife Rachel. He loves good music, good friends and vinyl records.