We live in difficult times. In a matter of weeks, worship leaders went from leading worship at church to finding purpose at home. So, what's next?
Jordan Abina, the author of Thoughts Of A Dying Worship Leader, is an artist and a worship leader. Sundays have been difficult for him. He's asked the question: If I can’t lead worship in church, am I still a worship leader? Jordan goes into the mind and heart of a worship leader in his new book. I spoke with Jordan about his book, leading worship, and more.
Can you explain the title of your new book, Thoughts Of A Dying Worship Leader?
I was worried about this title when I first thought of it; my brain was saying that it probably wasn’t a good idea, but I went with what my heart was telling me. The title came from a season with God leading me through different challenges I was facing as a worship leader.
I was getting discouraged, worn out, and beginning to wonder If this was the right direction for my life. It was around that time that Jesus began to speak to me from 2 Chronicles 20, a story of musicians and worshippers taking the frontlines in a battle. As I unpacked each chapter and all the thoughts and ideas God was bringing to the surface of my heart, I imagined myself marching with brothers and sisters in Christ.
I imagined walking towards a battle with nothing more than a song, maybe thinking that I wasn’t going to make it back, like a one-way trip of worship. That idea led to this title and also led me to a new level of freedom in Christ as a worship leader. Sometimes God takes us on a journey that feels like death and leads us to new life.
You say that “God makes being a worship leader dangerous.” Can you expand on that thought?
I don’t know about you, but there are tons of things the enemy throws at me throughout the week to keep my eyes off Jesus and hinder my worship. This is the case for all followers of Christ, let alone men and women who decide to devote their lives to help others grow in their relationship with Jesus. I believe it takes guts to be a worship leader; it takes a different level of courage.
You open yourself up to a world of critique, opinion, and praise as well. I’d say most of the time the worship leader is one of the first faces we see when a church service starts, and that can be a daunting thing. It has a very “frontlines” feel in general. I believe the frontlines are always the most dangerous place in a battle, and leading worship is a battle.
There is more going on in those moments than the human eye can see. While in the natural we sing, there is a supernatural battle going on for the souls of God’s people. Worship leading is a gift and honor, and it is dangerous as well because there is a battle going on.
How did 2 Chronicles 20 impact your ministry as a worship leader?
Well, it helped birth this book. Better said, it helped me see that my life and experiences could be shared to encourage and equip my brothers and sisters around me. I was really struggling with seeing people not singing, not doing what I thought they should be doing to worship in our services. While some wept, lifted their hands, and clapped, others seemed to be unaffected, lifeless and distant.
I was leaving the platform after some weeks broken and feeling defeated. I’m so thankful for a Father who sees me and knows men, and You. God brought me to a passage I’ve read many times before and showed me something new.
God rebuked me and reminded me of what my responsibility was. I was beginning to think that I was what was bringing life change and spiritual awakening when that is only something God can do. I needed to put my eyes back on Him and follow Him, not the other way around.
As I read that story I realized that those worshippers may have not known if they were coming back alive. God used that reality to shift the way I was leading and the way I was praying.
It changed everything for me.
What can other leaders in the church that are not involved in worship leading get from your book?
Although the title has the words worship leader in it, the book wasn’t written for worship leaders only. It was meant to be an encouragement to all believers and also a book for those who aren’t sure where they are on their journey of faith.
The book talks about the realities of grace and how tremendous that is for us, there is a chapter that looks at what it feels like to follow the voice of God when all lights go out, and a chapter encouraging the reader to not settle for anything less than the best of what God has for them.
Every single person was made by a very artistic God. We are intricate creatures made with specificity by an incredible creator. The book is a push towards getting on a journey with Him, the star breather, and out of our comfort zones.
You’ve started your own PodCast based on the book. How has that experience been?
It’s been so fun. The weird part about writing this book was as soon as it was finished, I felt like I had so much more to say; the podcast has been a cool place to accomplish that. I’m making an episode for each chapter and just expanding a little on each idea and answering questions I’ve been asked along the way. Even as I’m recording each episode, I realize a new idea or depth to the chapter and that has been a blessing as well.
This season is just me talking about the specific chapter, but next season there will be other artists as well. I want to give them a chance to use their voice to speak into people’s lives and mine.
What’s the biggest challenge ahead for the worship leader and church at large?
Well, these are difficult times. In a matter of weeks, many worship leaders went from a platform to their home. Sundays have been so difficult for me, at first they were really depressing. The question really came down to if I can’t lead worship in church, am I still a worship leader?
I started to get my guitar out and worship just for me, and God. No platform and no audience. Now, I did this prior to the pandemic but now it felt different, it felt like a battle. I started to live stream myself just singing and playing guitar and I noticed many worship leaders around the country doing that as well. I loved it.
I don’t know if I know what the biggest challenge is for worship leaders, but two come to mind.
The first is that we stop leading worship, even if just for ourselves. This was never supposed to be about the crowd, it’s always been about Him. I’m praying that we keep singing, keep playing, and keep filling the world with the praise of God. The enemy would love for this pandemic to quiet the voice of the church, I don’t believe Spirit-filled people will let that happen. We can’t lose our voice.
The second is that worship leaders will lose themselves in all of this. There’s so much room for distraction and distancing from God. Our screen time is going up and we’re filling our time with all types of vices. Worship leaders and all of us need to care for our souls first. The worship leaders who fight to be with Jesus through prayer, study, worship, and just by being with Him are going to be the people God uses to usher in the next move of His Spirit. This pandemic isn’t a time for us to be lulled to sleep, it’s quite the opposite, it’s time for us to wake up.
God is at work.
Kevin McNeese started NRT in 2002 and has worked in the industry since 1999 in one form or another. He has been a fan of Christian music since 1991.
Lecrae Upcoming music, recent travels and where passions are taking him
NEW!BEHIND THE SONG
#1026 - Hillsong UNITED Jonathan 'JD' Douglass speaks about the group's latest worship anthem
NEW! THE CHH DROP
#9 - Peabod, Ess Be... A look at what's new this week in Christian Hip-Hop, Rap and Urban
NEW! LIVE BEYOND THE LYRICS
Jonathan McReynolds "Cathedral" shows us that we are God's dwelling place and work of art
Local Sound & P. Baloche The weekly series looks at new partnership with Integrity Music