I love to eat. There’s nothing like going to a new restaurant to enjoy all of the delicacies the chef spent the day prepping and cooking fresh for me. I love it when the meal is balanced with seasonings, spices, and textures that satisfy your palate as well as your hunger. I love the conversations, laughter, stories shared, and memories made around a table full of good food and drink. It’s seriously one of my favorite things.
Gathering for worship is a lot like coming to a feast. Sometimes we consume actual juice or wine with bread when we take communion, but I want to focus on the metaphorical realities that are at play for us as worship leaders and for all those who gather to worship.
Worship Leaders Are Like Chefs
As worship leaders, we spend all week preparing the feast. We think through the songs, prayers, elements, lighting, sound, and many other “ingredients” that we hope and pray will enhance the worship of God’s people. We strive to provide a feast in which they want to partake.
We think through the flow of the gathering much as a chef might think through the order of which courses he should serve. At the heart of it all, we want to provide a table where the church can gather and feast on the gospel together. This is always the main course for us.
What Christ has accomplished - the redemption of His people - is what we want our people to taste, savor, and be full. Everything else is like appetizers. Keep in mind that we don’t want bland meals, but we don’t want super exotic or over-the-top meals either. Just as a chef wants satisfying, well seasoned, and balanced meals where the flavors, textures, and appeal work in harmony to entice you to feast... so a worship leader wants to use lighting, songs, video, testimonies, Scripture readings, and other elements to season the supremacy of Christ in all things. We want to set a table that entices our people to sit down and dig in.
Worshipers (And Worship Leaders) Are Like Those Who Feast
As worshipers who come to church (this is also true, if not more so, for worship leaders), we need to come hungry. You can go to the nicest restaurant with the best reviews, but if you’re not hungry, you will not want to eat. It doesn’t matter what the meal smells or looks like, if you’re full, you won't want to partake.
When we fill up on things besides our Savior, we have no room left to “taste and see that He is good.” When our lives are so full of things that promise satisfaction but leave us bloated, we can’t come hungry and ready to feast on the grace of God. In addition, when we are spiritually lazy we haven’t burned enough calories to even realize that we are hungry. When we don’t spend time in His Word, sacrifice our lives for the good of one another, live on mission, or serve, we don’t expend enough energy to build up an appetite.
I have found that my appetite increases the more I read books on Christ, feast on His word, spend time in gospel community, and have times of prayer and communion with Him. This is because there is always more of Christ to be had, and this is where the analogy breaks down. The more we feast on the goodness of God, the more we realize how hungry we actually are. We have an increased desire to gather with the saints and feast.
Worship leaders, let’s come hungry for the grace of God while simultaneously preparing the best meal we know to prepare. We don’t want to be boring, pedantic, and flavorless; how you play the songs, lead the people, and plan the order matters. On the other hand, we don’t want to serve some crazy, exotic “delicacy” that doesn’t make sense at the table we gather around. People don’t need to be razzled and dazzled by your gatherings. They need to see and savor Christ.
Worshipers, let’s come hungry, expectant, and in need of the presence of God as can only happen when we come to the table ready to eat. When we come and say “entertain me,” we don't come hungry. When we come hungry it means that we’ve spent the preceding week running hard after God so that when we gather with others who have been doing the same, we sit down at the table together, and we feast.