When I was a youth pastor, I strongly felt that teenagers should lead other teenagers in worship. Which presented its own set of problems! In the high school group we would lose a worship leader every four years (when they graduated), so I found myself working with teenagers, constantly pouring into them and equipping them to lead worship. I found that some of the most talented singers were some of the shyest people in the world. For some reason they did not think they had any kind of voice, despite all of the praise from adults and their peers. There was some underlying fear that seemed to keep them captive. On some level they felt like they were going to be rejected if they messed up. They felt that if they could blend into the crowd and not get noticed then they would never be rejected because no one would ever hear them make a mistake. Deep within their hearts was the desire to praise God with the voice He had given them. Yet, the fear of rejection and being an outcast overshadowed that desire, so it stayed buried deep within them. The book of First John gives us the remedy for this arresting fear. It says: There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:18-19 (ESV)
The truth is the more secure we as people feel about God’s love and acceptance the more risks we will take for God. Those risks include worshiping Him with all of the voice He has put in us! I found the more time and love I gave to these teen worship leaders, the more secure they became. Consequently, the more powerful worship leaders they became.
Now when we look at a congregation rather than the worship leader we see this truth of the “fear of rejection” consumes God’s people. Fear of standing out is very prevalent in our churches today. However, this can be overcome by creating an environment where love and acceptance are the defining characteristics. If people are free from fear because they are loved than they will sing praises to their Lord. If we are to create this type of culture in our worship we will need to lay ahold of one other passage of scripture. Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival, so that you will no longer suffer reproach. Behold, at that time I will deal with all your oppressors. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. Zephaniah 3:14-19 (ESV) Over and over again it says “the Lord, is in your midst”. When the presence of God is realized His love overwhelms us. When my kids are fearful I will scoop them up and begin to sing over them and the fear leaves and they just relax in my arms. If we want to create a place where fear is cast out, our worship teams must do as God does. We must sing over the congregation with confidence and love. When our worship is an overflow from the Love that God has poured into us, we are willing to risk the rejection. When people see us expressing our love for our God with our reservations, it breaks down walls and kicks open doors for the Holy Spirit to come with His love which will drive out fear.