Leading Charismatic Praise
If you are leading a group of people during prayer, here are some helpful tips. Don't worry too much about mechancis. Just check it out and use what the Spirit accents.
Thx for serving!
Your Leadership Gift
Everyone has leadership gifts.
For some, leadership is their greatest gift, but that certainly should not limit anyone from exercising their God-given leadership powers, especially in those area we have authoritiy.
Note how this is similar to prophecy: we all have that gift, but we are not all prophets, who have prophecy as their most natural gift. (Other Redemptive Gift temperaments might include: mercy, giving, service, encouragement, teaching, etc.)
One important avenue for using your leadership gift is via group worship, whether formal or informal. Many times Christians want to worship together, but no one will step up. There's no need for this sad situation, since anyone can take initiative to coordinate.
Authority and Responsibility
In an area God has assigned us to lead, He gives us authority and responsibility. (Certainly where we are assigned is a discernment, but given the assignment, we know we have authority and responsility—they go together.)
Authority is input cause, responsibility is output effect. Without authority, there is no power to direct; without responsibility, there is no power to evaluate the means of success. Roots and fruits.
The gift of authority comes with tools, such as declaring the charter, organizing resources, enforcing boundaries, etc. Without these leadership has no point.
A leader may need to be perceived as being good at everything (confident, charming, smart, etc.); but rather, good Christian leaders know how to delegate, perhaps almost everything. They simply have the responsibly for bookends: initiating the goal and ensuring it happens.
Christian leadership is not a show, but a service.
It's actually Christ serving through us. Hence, it's not about promoting self, but about helping toward a the goal of spotlighting God. For a prayer meeting, this primarily means orchestrate the environment to facilitate worship.
Because it is Christ delegating to us to lead, he has the ultimate authority and responsibility. We are transparent glass for Him.
So it's not about having certain talents, but allowing Him into the talents He designed for us. Everyone has the attractive Christ in them. So not one should worry about being a personality other than the one God gave you. Just let Christ through you and you will appear much better. So really, our only responsibility is doing what He says, especially when circumastnces are un-anticipated.
Before the Meeting
The best practical advice to leading a meeting is to be in the Spirit. Be already “prayed up”—to have given your current luggage to God so you focus on the group. Often Christ will tell you His goal for the meeting ahead of time; sometimes he just says do what you want and He'll work with it.
During the Meeting
Here are some normal activities to consider; use as needed. The event should have the right mix of structure and spontaneity, skeleton and flesh, to prevent sagging or stifling.
- Welcoming everyone. Perhaps go around and do names.
- Welcoming the new people.
- Welcoming in God. The intro prayer should be real and not perfunctory, reflecting the tone of how you want the meeting to go.
- Announcing how we are and where we are going. "This is the Fellowhsip Group; and this is what we have planned for tonight". It's important those attending know what they are safely getting into, else there may be little surrendering to God, just "attending".
Priming the Pump
Initiate by presenting some form of encouragement to prime the pump (e.g,. your testimony, someone else's, a short quote, a lecture, an audio excerpt, a video sample, etc.)
Any encouragement should somehow be tied to how God loves them. It's very easy to be distracted into some tertiary instruction: "We should memorize the Bible" or "we should do a Novena" etc. Techniques are means, not ends. They can be helpful, but are always something secondary. Love is not a technique.
Once the car has been started, don't continue to start it again. Just get out of the way, unless it seems to falter later. Worrying about leading well creates the tendency to “step on” the praise. Generally, talk a lot less. The natural tendency will be micromanagement. But God wants a good meeting more than we do.
Also avoid “leading out loud” by verbalizing meta-remarks like “we’ve got to get this place fired up”. These counterproductive comments are the prayer meeting equivlanent of "Are we having fun yet?"
Leadership has a unique position of having to "look out of both eyes" with one eye on God and one on the group. Music ministry also has this dual focus, but the leadership supersedes it because it must also lead the music ministry.
Often, after some time in praise, the atmosphere will change, as if the Spirit has “arrived”. There will be some experiential manifestation of God. This is nice, though not required. (Good prayer time is when we simply give God the heart, regardless.)
We might detect this atmosphere when it seems our effort is less than God's. The praise takes on a new character, as if God was drawing the goodness out, as if He's sweeping us into the presence with angels. These times are inspiring.
The gift of tongues should not be over-promoted, but certainly encouraged because that's it's purpose: to kick-start praise. That's the gift's huge advantage.
If the Spirit doesn’t speak, it may be important to publicly ask the Lord to manifest. It may seem like a risk, though it's not, since it's ok for God to be quiet. More often though, God rewards the boldness.
Certainly this an art, because relationships are an art. We get better with practice.
At a point when the group is generally satisfied, perhaps summarize a key theme if God gave one (but it's not necessary to have a theme).
Common general balances might be encouragement vs. chastisement; God’s part vs. our part, cross vs. resurrection, receiving vs. giving, waiting vs. imitative, etc.
If God was specific giving direction, then be specific. E.g., if all of the words were about “praise” don’t summarize by saying God wants us to have faith. While that may be true, God may want to address a particular issue to impart a particular blessing.
If a prophetic word requires a response, the leader decides whether group response is appropriate. You don’t have to do anything when the Spirit isn't leading you. Sometimes a prophet will say "The Lord wants us to jump on the chairs!" And you don’t "get a witness" to that. Feel free to let it go. It may have been from God, but so is your Spirit-led leadership to parse out the words.
For resposne ideas, perhaps it's good to kneel, to gather in a circle, or to lay hands on each other or do something else; but be careful of forcing something they aren't ready for, especially if it jars everyone out of a prayerful space.
Generally, most people are cooperative and simply need a little encouragement. However, sometimes, a strong-willed person will attempt to override your leadership. This can arrive either blatantly or subtly. A blatant course change will be like "now we are going to do this…" and then that person will start to arrange chairs for that activity. A subtle hijacking may happen via an overly-emotional plea, that seems like a move to get attention. In both cases, respect the person by addressing their need, but directing all that we will cover that off-line later. We are happy to help, but afterward. "Let's cover this offline" is a great tool.
These perturbations are another reason to have a clear event focus. Most of the time, there is an un-met need and the person believes controlling the group will help. If it's not a big deal, then perhaps accommodate them; otherwise establish a firm boundary—else next week it'll be worse. Also, those in attendance may perceive the disunity. The leadership needs to respect the crew and vice versa. Most of the time this is not an issue, but be ready to handle buzzkills. Don't panic. The Spirit will lead you.
End of the Meeting
The most important part of the meeting is when the people connect with God.
Normally this will happen during the interactive prayer portion, but might not. Other possibly activities at the end might include, intercession requests, sharings, a talk, happy b-day song for someone, etc. But be diligent that these things do not steal focus from interactive prayer.
Before intercessory prayer, I prefer we don't say "will everyone please pray for…" but rather "Jesus, will you please…" This supports God as the meeting leader.
Since everyone has needs, intercessory prayer usually is an effective way to re-focus the group into prayer. Everyone will calm down like a bunch of kids waiting for cereal! It can be inserted at anytime, but for charismatic events, it's the least important part because it's less about receiving. It's can also give too much attention to problems instead of faith, so unless it's unusually Spirit-filled, keep it brief please.
Group sharings are nice, but should not turn into a platform for reporting how your week went. If that's occurring, there is usually a deeper social issue with the sharer who needs better friendships. Perhaps offload this to a discussion group. The person may need to be addressed, afterward so this doesn't become a pattern.
Brief closing announcements act as a trailer for the upcoming event, to keep the journey alive. "Don't miss next week on Battlestar Galactica…" Invite and encourage folks to be prayed with for those who want it, so that no one leaves too hungry.
The meeting should not have a frayed ending because people may feel they can't leave gracefully. Most have full lives. We need to honor that and they will honor us by coming back.
Blessings To You!
If the Spirit is leading you to lead , then He will give you the gifts for the task, even if you don't feel like it. Many leaders report surprising changes in themselves when serving. Many gain confidence when they experience God’s support in action. That's probably one of the biggest lifts—when God does something supernatural because you allowed God to lead through you.
Experiencing these things over time will dramatically increase your initiative with God. Relax and have a good time. He wants to bless you!
In the end, it’s simply letting God love us–as a group—like little kids.