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The Art of Exhortation

From the Worship Leader series.


We must never assume that simply because people are gathered together in one place, they are necessarily ready to worship. They seem to be ready, but they must in fact be brought to a place of readiness. The people do not need whipping-they have been battered by the world all week long! Rather, through loving understanding and prophetic anointing, the leader should bring them to a place of open surrender to the Holy Spirit.

Copyright Stan Myers. Used with permission.

It is when the people are insufficiently responsive that the worship leader learns the value of the art of exhortation. I refer to this as an “art” simply because exhortation, like preaching or teaching, is a learned ability. Some may feel it is inconsistent with their personalities to become an exhorter, but if God has called us to lead worship, he has also called us to fulfill all the dynamics of that role that are necessary to provide proper direction for god’s people. Without the use of exhortation, our effectiveness as worship leaders will be greatly limited. There are times when an appropriate exhortation is the best way to encourage the people toward a certain response.

Exhortation is neither coercion nor manipulation; it falls into the area of persuasion. Paul wrote, “Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade me” (2 Corinthians 5:11), and he commanded Timothy, “These things teach and exhort” (Timothy 6:2, KJV).

“Exhortation, properly expressed, should actually function under a prophetic anointing.”

We should deliver an exhortation with firmness and confidence. “If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God” (1 Peter 4:11). We should speak up so that we will be heard-not mumbling into the microphone, but resolutely so all can hear our words. How tempting it is, under the guise of “exhorting,” to take out our frustrations on the people and whip them verbally with a “Thus saith the Lord!”

Frequently I will plan an exhortation at the same time I am planning the songs to be sung. If I have scripture or nugget of truth already tucked in a corner of my mind, it is easily available to me during the service, and I can draw upon that scripture or idea at any time in order to formulate a positive exhortation. I will not use the exhortation if the worship is reaching a crescendo, but if the service is waning, I will ask the lord if it is time for me to share the exhortation I have prepared. I am usually more effective in the area of exhortation if I have something prepared, much like a preacher is more effective after preparation. I also maintain a listing of scriptures that are especially useful when exhorting the people to increased praise or worship, and this list is a valuable resource when I need a springboard for an exhortation.

“Some people can thoroughly enjoy a worship service but look miserable throughout. If the expressions on the people’s faces discourage us, let’s stop looking at them! We can place our affection on the Lord, radiate his joy, and stop fretting about people’s response or lack thereof.”

Exhortation, properly expressed, should actually function under a prophetic anointing. Many times a wisely expressed exhortation is ideal for correcting difficult situations in worship or giving direction to the worship. God’s people do respond to exhortation. At times when they are not properly exercising their will to praise, a positive exhortation can help them become aware of their laziness inspire them to renewed enthusiasm.

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Category: Fall 2000, Ministry

About the Author: Bob Sorge served as a pastor for thirteen years, as well as a music director at Elim Bible Institute, NY. Now he bases his writing and traveling ministry in Kansas City, Missouri, where he lives with his wife, Marci, and three children. Author of the widely acclaimed, Exploring Worship, Bob has written numerous books that have been deeply influenced by his journey through a sustained personal crisis. Among his most noted works are the titles, The Fire Of Delayed Answers, Pain, Perplexity and Promotion, and Secrets Of The Secret Place.

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