What are the goals of a worship session? How do worship leaders prepare themselves to lead in worship? What goes into the art of worship leading? School of Theology learns all these in a two-part session.
By Carla Fernando
Teo Poh Heng (affectionately known to generations of City Harvesters as Brother Poh), is a worship leader in City Harvest Church known for leading a congregation in dynamic praise and worship.
On Jul 6, Poh taught “The Art of Worship Leading” to the current cohort at CHC’s School of Theology. It was a two-part session: the first covered the theory behind the practice, and the second took the students through the practical application of worship leading.
“EVERYTHING CHANGES AS GOD COMES CLOSE”
One of the most important lessons Poh taught was the power of praise and worship. “Everything changes the second God comes close to you,” he said.
In Acts 16:25-26, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and suddenly a great earthquake came and shook the foundation of the prison. The prison doors opened and all their chains fell off. Using this verse as an illustration, Poh taught that when Christians spend time in worship, God becomes clearer to them. The job of the worship leader is to create an atmosphere where members are given space to freely worship God.
In the first segment of the class, Poh discussed four goals of a worship session: to bring people closer to God, to create a spiritual environment for the Holy Spirit’s anointing and gifts to flow, to provide an effective platform for the ministry of the Word, and to increase the people’s spiritual momentum toward a spiritual goal.
When Christians come together, there must be unity among them. Praise and worship play the role of unifying them. They might have arrived in church with different distractions and problems, but they start to focus on one common goal when they worship together.
PREPARING ONESELF TO LEAD WORSHIP
It is important for worship leaders to be sensitive to the songs the Holy Spirit is impressing upon their hearts for that weekend or that season, taught Poh. He encouraged the students to be worshippers of God daily because they can only serve out of the overflow of their private worship experience. A good leader is constantly sensitive to the current move of the Holy Spirit.
Poh also encouraged the students to be meticulous in choosing songs, keeping in mind the theme and focus of each choice. God is a God of order and Christians are to emulate Him.
Using the outline of the Temple of David in the Old Testament, Poh described the flow of a worship experience. First, the worshiper enters the Outer Courts, then he approaches the Holy Place, and finally enter the Holy of Holies where God’s presence resides.
“We need to visualize the whole worship experience,” Poh encouraged. “The Holy Spirit cannot be seen with the naked eye. As we lead the people into God’s presence, we step into the invisible realm of the Holy Spirit, and thus, we need to be sensitive to know when to get out of God’s way and allow Him to move.”
Finally, in the second segment of his class, Poh emphasized the importance of practice. He presented practical approaches to worship-leading, provided tips and showed the students ways to prepare for and conduct oneself in leading.
“Practice in such a way that it seems like you’re the one who wrote the song,” he suggested. “Train hard and you will practice easy.”
In the battle between Israel and the Moabites in the Old Testament, the King of Israel inquired of the Prophet Elisha what he should do. 2 Kings 3:15 records, “‘But now bring me a musician.’ Then it happened, when the musician played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him.” When the King of Moab saw that the battle was too fierce, he departed. Worship became a weapon.
“We can see here the power of worship in the midst of worship to get an answer,” Poh pointed out. “As leaders, we continually seek God in the private worship experience, we practice to get better and aim for excellence in serving so we can create an atmosphere where the Holy Spirit can move, as well as give the people space to freely worship.”