I had no idea what I was getting into with this book. What I found was a fascinatingly detailed story of a man's journey from disgrace and destruction to a beautifully shaped redemption epic all set in 1st Century Israel. I was drawn in immediately.
Here are a few reasons why every worship leader should walk with Ben-Hur for a few weeks.
1. THE LIFE OF CHRIST:
The story intersects the life of Jesus in several key places. Although not a 5th Gospel, it examines the story of the Messiah from a different vantage point. I felt at times, like I was seeing Christ's work and purpose through a new lens.
2. THE SETTING:
Because of Wallace's detailed research, you are surrounded by the sights and sounds of what life was like under Roman rule in Israel during that period. There were moments in the book where I felt transported to New Testament times and could actually feel the rocky ground under my feet.
3. THE BACK STORY: There is a rich back-story with Lew Wallace and this book. He is a Union General in the American Civil War. His actions at the battle of Shiloh are ridiculed. His post war years are spent defending his actions in the field that day. He has a conversation with a leading atheist of the time that propels Him on a journey to either prove or disprove the Gospel. The Gospel wins, and Ben Hur is born.
Embracing epic stories allow our minds to be trained for the most epic story of all. God's redemptive narrative throughout history is not only sacred it is compelling! As worship leaders, connecting with stories like Ben Hur exercise our minds to lead our people to a time and place that might seem a bit out of reach to the modern mind.
So, my challenge to you during this Christmas season is take up Ben Hur and get lost in the 1st Century. You'll thank me later! Would love to hear your reflections on this amazing story.
(Its free on iBooks, ...I hear they even made a movie about it...need to see that too)
As we continue our conversation on Worship Leader Essentials, we have to remember the red zone. There is a critical 2-3 minute window in which you, as leader, have to really be listening and watching. By listening and watching, I mean really listening to the Lord and watching your pastor or the speaker.
The red zone happens during the final few minutes of the time when you are leading worship through song through about the first 2 minutes of the sermon/talk/presentation. Some might think of it as a "hand off" moment. It is best to treat that moment as a moment of service to my pastor. Remember these few things in the red zone:
1. Follow the Holy Spirit to the end of the song. Let him dictate the moment when the conclusion happens, not the chart.
2. Serve the speaker by getting your stuff out of the way. This could be a simple as moving mic stand, to removing a pedal board. Choose the right time to do this...it MIGHT NOT be during prayer.
3. Be the last off the platform. As the time of worship through song concludes and the speaker begins the message, WAIT TO SEE WHERE THE SPEAKER IS GOING. You have a God-given chance to serve the speaker by waiting and going through a mental checklist: Is the mic working? Do they have their notes? Do they need water or have a catch in they're throat? Are they just not ready for the worship through song time to end? Would they like to move into a time of prayer instead of their message? Are they off and running?
Several speakers have told me that after the musicians leave the platform, it can become a lonely place for the first few minutes! Having been on the speaker's side of things from time to time, I tend to agree. Don't abandon the speaker by hopping off the platform and into a green room. Put it on pause for a bit and be "on call" to do whatever you can to help by praying, watching, and listening to the Lord. Be ready to act a with little warning and trust the authority and leadership of the speaker.