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Chop your worship leader into little pieces!!!

October 14, 2010

Matt Blick did a series on his blog on the subject of helping the congregation participate in our meetings, and I want to spend some time interacting with each of his twelve suggestions and see if I can squeeze out some more value from his ideas and share them as widely as I can.  This is number four of twelve. (some more of my own may follow, depends on how many people are still reading at the end of the series!!!)

Chop your worship leader into tiny little pieces!!!



The first post in Matt’s second section is provocatively titled: the fact that he does not advocate this as the means of disciplining worship leaders who hog the mic or try and get their churches doing crazy Hillsong-type octave leaps in the bridge of every song may disappoint some of you, but he is a man of Grace!

He is actually encouraging worship leaders (and those who look for new ones) to remind themselves of their rightful place – no biblical pattern or model or authority for that thing they do on a Sunday.  And he is reminding them that there are men who do have a biblical pattern, model and authority for the meeting – they’re called elders.

To take the idea of delegating and releasing further, there are some other things a worship leader could think about doing to reduce his or her responsibility so that they may in the long run actually do a better job.

  • Ditch your instrument (if you play one) and let someone else in the band concentrate on leading the music.  By this I mean appointing a lead musician to co-ordinate the dynamic, instrumentation, music played between songs and to accompany spontaneous songs etc releases you to concentrate on actually leading worship instead of leading the band.  You still pick what song we sing next (unless the congregation gets more involved!), what verse, etc and the lead musician should submit to your leadership if you direct the dynamic or instrumentation in some other way, but once you have released this to another person, you can now be free to worship and look like you are worshipping; you can be released to actually talk with the elder in charge about what is going on or what should happen next; you can be considering how to respond to a particular contribution or flow of gifts while the lead musician takes responsibility for ensuring the band support the contribution that is currently being made; you can actually use your body in worship and, oh  my goodness, dance or clap! (You’ve been telling your congregation to do it plenty long enough, now you actually can!!!)) and you can demonstrate that the leading worshippers in the church do not have to play an instrument, thereby giving hope to those in the body who feel called but not musically qualified.  I feel strongly that anything we can do to break the mould of a model worship leader that says the guy needs to be in his twenties or thirties with a guitar, cool t-shirt and hair gelled just right, we should do.
  • Worship leaders should be banned from singing prophetic songs when they are leading. (They should also be encouraged to sing them lots when they are not)  I find the act of singing a prophetic song when you already get to choose all the songs we sing that Sunday, how they will be played, and whether or not anyone else will get a look in on the meeting to be massively counter productive.  It only feeds the thinking in the congregation that goes along the lines of “I don’t need to bring anything, he can carry a meeting on his own” or “how cool, isn’t he great” (said about you, not Jesus) and they are two attitudes we should be doing all we can to chop off at the knees.  If you can just wait until the week your mate is leading instead, you are now modelling congregational worship, stirring faith in the congregation and blessing your mate who was desperately hoping someone would contribute! (Matt’s feelings here go along the lines of “Even if you can carry the whole thing I still think you’re setting a bad example.”)
  • If you have backing singers, you could encourage them to do more than just back your singing. In fact, your whole band can do this, and it will do great good to your church.  Encourage them to bring a contribution other than their instrument!  ANd I don’t necessarily mean on a week when they’re not playing!!! Last Sunday, our drummer got up and brought a wonderful encouragement to the body of how God had spoken to him through the refrain “If our God is for us, who can be against us?” and his gift of faith really spurred us on in praise, even more than his excellent drumming tends to.  It sets a great example to wannabe musicians in the congregation that this is what we expect from you, it models to the church how there is more to worship than music and songs, and it is something you can prep your band for in the days before the meeting when you are leading together.  (“Dave, I know you’ve been enjoying reading the Psalms lately – can you bring one on Sunday to help us in our worship?” – “Suzy, that word you brought in band practice was really powerful – can you bring it on Sunday too? I think it would really speak to many people and help them see how Jesus thinks about them and how they should think about Jesus” – “Paul – I know you speak in tongues.  Please bring one on Sunday, we haven’t had one in ages!”)
  • Take a string of Sunday’s off from bringing your pearls of wisdom and encouragement before the worship starts. Whittle it down to something like “Isn’t it amazing? The Bible says that God’s heart to meet with us far outweighs our desire to meet with Him today – so let’s worship Him!” rather than reciting Psalm 119 or reading from the whole of Isaiah.  And you don’t even have to say anything if the elder starts the meeting with any kind of encouragement – so don’t!!!

And I suppose, if the threat of physical violence works, I’m not sure I’m opposed to it all that much!!!


(Next time, Practicing Spontaneity!!!)

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