expressive worship

Stop Thinking and Start Loving

Stop thinking when you’re on the platform! I mean it. If you’re standing in front of the congregation and thinking about what you’re going to say, where you’re going to move, what notes you’re trying to sing, what the lyrics are, how do you look…

Or here’s another one, there’s another soloist or musician in the crowd, so you’re singing or playing to them; or there’s someone important in the congregation, so you’re thinking about how they like what you’re doing…. well, if you’re thinking on the platform, then you’ve already lost.

Here’s the problem with “thinking” on the platform. What are we usually thinking about? Ourselves! And we’re self-conscious. Almost every time I go to a concert and I’m backstage, inevitably the artist sees me and says “any last words?” And all I can say to them is – love your audience. I can’t tell them to move over here, create a moment there,…. there’s no time for anything more than the best quick advice I can give them. Love your audience. Love the congregation.

So what does that mean? Well, it means you’re not thinking on the platform. Because if you’re loving the congregation perfectly, you’re thinking about them. In fact, you’re not even thinking about them, you’re just giving yourself to them. It means you’ve left yourself behind.

You know the story – the story of the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve, created, in the garden, running around naked — do you know why they didn’t even know they were naked? Because they were perfect, loving each other, loving God, not being self-conscious. And it changed when they disobeyed and ate the fruit. They became self-conscious. Instead of thinking about each other, they started thinking about themselves, and they realized, “oh my gosh, I’m naked!”

We do the same thing on the platform. Now I doubt you’re running around naked onstage, but we do it when we say “oh no, that person’s looking at me funny,” “how do I sound,” “how do I smell,” “how do I look,” “the guitar player’s looking at me weird.” We’re thinking… about ourselves.

Let me tell you what worship music really is. It’s when people in the audience and you forget about yourselves and get wrapped up in God. There’s nothing else. You’re not thinking about them, they’re not thinking about you; everyone is wrapped up in God. That is not self-consciousness. But if you’re thinking about things like “do I lift my arm,” “do I walk over here,” then you’re doing the wrong thing.

If you read my blog Canned is for Campbells, then you know that the other thing that will happen when you’re thinking on the platform is that whatever you do can look a little too canned. Maybe even downright hokey. If you are thinking about what you’re doing and where you’re moving, then it will be uncomfortable for you and will look stilted to your audience.

You can tell when you’ve gotten to the place where you are past the problem of thinking on the platform. Because all of a sudden you’ll realize that it’s much easier to be spontaneous! After you’ve done some woodshedding, learned the fundamentals, done some planning, and rehearsed a lot – that’s when you begin to feel comfortable with yourself on the platform. You’ve gotten the important stuff into your head, and then you’ve gone over and over it until it feels good.

And after you really start to “feel it” instead of “think it,” then you’ll begin to own what you’re doing. Now you’re no longer thinking about it, trying to find it – you’re completely owning it. And that’s where spontaneity is able to come in; that’s when you can go to the next place.

So work on the fundamentals until you don’t feel self-conscious. And stop thinking on the platform!

It's Not About the Song

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Tom Jackson

Tom Jackson, world renowned Live Music Producer, helps musicians and worship teams develop songs into “unique worship moments.” His Live Music Methods help create freedom in the room so your congregation can express their worship more freely and passionately than ever before! Tom has worked with nearly every genre from rock to pop to Christian Gospel, impacting major artists and worship leaders such as Jars of Clay, Casting Crowns, NewSong, Sidewalk Prophets, Chris Tomlin, Francesca Battistelli, Todd Agnew, Phillips, Craig & Dean, Parachute Band, The Martins, plus a multitude of independent artists.

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  1. Jim Drew says:

    I think you answered a question for me.
    I have a buddy who folks ask “Why does it seem so easy to worship with you?” I have also asked why when I lead worship it seems natural. I think you answered it for me. I love music and I love worship and I am free to enjoy the congregation. I am rarely sidetracked cuz once we get started I am all into it. I think my son is the same and he is a drummer. I know of pastors who said they started to worship God as they saw the freedom in my sons playing.

    People have asked and I have been embarrassed to answer because I didn’t know the answer. I love worshiping when others lead. I am always into it and when on a platform to lead I feel that freedom still. I am still not sure how to word that for others because I am not into comparisons but if there is an honest way to say that in a word or two then I would love to hear it. All I know is I love playing for our Papa.

  2. Angie says:

    Thanks Tom, you have NO idea how much I needed to hear that. You’re so right on. When I try to worship from my head I become so self aware; “why did I wear this today?”, “my husband doesn’t believe it because of our bad morning”, “who comes in first? me?, the leader?”…blah, blah, blah. I comes to a real mental decision. I am prepared, God had called me to this, now STOP IT! Get out the way, turn the thoughts off, and speak to God and his people through the song. Then it’s authentic. I believe it, they believe it, because they see and hear something that’s real. It’s not a church service, it’s an experience!

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