The Lineman and the Worship Leader
(Author’s Note: This article was published in the Pentecostal Evangel (the weekly magazine of the Assemblies of God) in 1991. All time references should be adjusted by this inescapable fact.)
Our fullback, Sam—number 33, broke through the line, then the secondary, and scampered for the goal line. Touchdown!
I’ll never forget those crisp, fall nights; the too-bright technicolor glow of everything under the stadium lights; the incredible blackness of the night sky beyond them; the noise of the fans cheering Sam and the rest of the team on to victory; the pride of wearing the sweaty, grass-stained winning uniform.
I wasn’t a spectator; I was a teammate of Sam’s. I was big and slow but coach-able, so they made me a tackle. I had helped open up the hole Sam ran through.
We called the play “T-33,” the number 3 back through the number 3 hole. It was a cross block. I had to line up on the defensive back and convince him I was about to block him with all I had. When the ball was snapped, the end and I swapped places, crossing to block each other’s opponent—I blocked the end and our end blocked their tackle. It was a clever deception and it worked almost every time. Each time the people would cheer Sam on his way to another 6 points.
Few people thought about the offensive linemen who made the play work at the line of scrimmage. Those who really understood the game knew and we offensive linemen knew. I will never forget the satisfaction of watching Sam score and knowing he wouldn’t be there if we hadn’t been on the line helping create the hole in the opposition.
Now more than 25 years later* I’m bigger and slower, but I’m still coach-able, so they made me a worship leader. Each Sunday morning and evening, I lead a regiment of the Army of God in determined assaults on the enemy’s defenses. At the end of the service when the pastor gives the invitation and I thrill to the sight of souls captured for the Kingdom of God, I have the same feeling I used to get on those fall football nights. I am part of the winning team. I did my part in the success we see before us.
Public worship is a battle, much like that on the line of scrimmage in football.
A good coach knows that the team that controls the line of scrimmage will most likely win the game. And so it is with worship. For the Lord to accomplish what He wants in each service, we must break through the enemy’s defenses with our united praise. When the church is in “one mind and one accord,” the Spirit of God will drive away the opposition. Our songs of praise and worship are songs of warfare.
In Ephesians 3:8-12 Paul said God has established the Church to speak to the enemy forces arrayed against the Lord
“to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.” (v.10, NKJV)
The manifold wisdom of God is the subject of our praise and worship songs: “He is worthy,” Our God reigns,” “God is good,” and “His mercy endures forever.” As we declare Him King with our praise, the enemy is confused, just like that tackle across from me years ago. We blind side him with our praise. Hell has to retreat before the name of Jesus upon the lips of the church, for in that name is found all the manifold wisdom of God. The pastor steps to the pulpit with the way clear before him to further proclaim the manifold wisdom of God, battling the enemy with every Spirit-empowered word. As the service concludes, God’s Kingdom comes and God’s will is done in the willing hearts of the people.
The praise and worship at the beginning of the service is as vital to the success of that service as the blocking of the line is to the success of the running back. A service begun in dynamic praise and worship is a battle well begun. That beginning cannot be separated from the ground gained at the battle’s end.
As true worshipers, we have a vital role in the harvest.
Through our obedience in prayer and worship, the enemy’s ranks can be weakened so God’s messenger can break through the hell-hardened resistance of those who sit among us without Jesus in their hearts.
If you have ever seen a running back stopped for no gain at the line of scrimmage or even thrown for a loss, you know some lineman failed. This is the lot of the pastor who must preach when there has been no worship. The enemies of God have controlled the line of scrimmage.
It doesn’t have to be that way. If we will minister to God with our personal sacrifice of praise, love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and grant Him the throne of our vocal praise, inviting Him to rule among us, we can break any defense the enemy runs against us.
Worship involved more than just a sequence if songs. A battle is raging for the souls of men. Our part is to proclaim the manifold wisdom of God with our praise and worship. When the pastor preaches with freedom and in the power of the Spirit and souls come to Jesus, we will know we did our part. Like the linemen, we share in the joy of the victory.
*This article was originally written and published in 1991.