As worship leaders, we are often looking for a secret key that will make us more effective at what we do. But the answer to being more effective at leading worship hasn’t changed. It never will.
In my experience, we as worship leaders will do almost anything else in order to avoid mastering the following two areas. I know that I do. When they come together, however, there is a quiet increase in effectiveness and authority in one’s worship leadership.
What are the two things that every worship leader must master to become the most effective worship leader we can be?
I’ve now spent most of my adult life (30 years) thinking about, leading, and teaching on the topic of worship. It’s been central to my life’s call to reflect on why we do what we do in worship in settings like local churches, conference events, an universities. After interacting with contemporary worship ideas around the world over these past 3 decades, here are the top 5 most important things I believe every congregation needs to understand about worship.
As each of the following sections is a summary, I promise that I will leave out language about worship that is important to someone. But in this setting, the summaries will have to suffice.
Under each point, I suggest “What We Get Wrong,” and “How We Get It Right.” I hope these insights are helpful to our shared understanding of worship.
Friend Glenn Packiam (www.mysteryoffaithblog.com) recently posted his response to the current tide of voices calling for an end to the “modern worship” enterprise. It’s one of the best recent posts on the topic to date.
image from Glenn’s original post
I’ve written a few similar posts on this same topic, touching the idea that nuance is vital in conversations like these. Sweeping judgments of entire movements (megachurches, the “industry”, etc.) are unhelpful in moving us all forward.
Glenn, in this post, addresses the vantage point from which these articles are often written, and conveys why certain arguments lack care and – to put it simply – the due diligence of adequate research (primarily phenomenological research).
As a reader of my blog, I commend it to your reading and sharing. These are the kinds of words that must become as viral as any rant about the contemporary worship experience.
“What You (Probably) Don’t Know About Modern Worship” by Glenn Packiam.
On October 19, 2015, Patheos.com published the post 8 Reasons The Worship Industry Is Killing Worship by Jonathan Aigner. By all accounts the post has gone viral among those who care about the topic of worship. This is both encouraging, and disturbing. First, there is much in the post’s content that is helpful, insightful, and accurate. However, in my humble opinion, the post lacks nuance and generosity in some of the conclusions made. This moves me to strongly disagree with a number of the statements in the article.
My time is limited for writing this response, which will reveal itself in a lack of editing and a few typos. Apologies. I may/will also be accused of leaving out particular ideas intentionally. That is not my intent, but I see the suggestion coming so I mention this at the beginning of my response. Please be gracious with me.
As well, when I sound pointed in my remarks, please read them as if the author and I are having a coffee and the conversation is passionate yet playful.
In working with artists and worship leaders, I am often drawn to Genesis for insights that help us to understand God, ourselves, and the raw power of “making” in the world. A recent study in Genesis unearthed the following nuggets from poet and Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann in Genesis: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Here are a few selections that moved me in the first section of the book.
God And Creation Bound Together
“God and God’s creation are bound together in a distinctive and delicate way. This is the presupposition for everything that follows in the Bible. It is the deepest premise from which good news is possible. God and His creation are bound together by the powerful, gracious movement of God towards that creation.