I've not visited for a while. I hope you are all well. This group seems to have been a bit quiet lately. My husband and I have been leading worship for the last few years but have stepped down from that for a while. We have loads of other stuff going on, so I probably won't miss it. At first, at least.
I've been encountering a lot of resistance to the term Worship Leader lately. Setting aside the obvious point that worship doesn't just occur during music (please let's not go back over that, it's something I KNOW!), is WL a term which is common in your area/tradition?
I'm asking this in the UK group because I want British responses. How is the term WL used in the UK now? Does everyone know what it means? Does everyone have the same understanding of what it means?
I'm starting a course run by the Baptist Union in Sept and from the look of the course materials, they obviously think that leading worship is the responsibility of what I'd call the Service Leader.
Nice to hear from you on here. I've not been WTR on a while...
I help lead worship at a Baptist church in Wales, but come from a charismatic Anglican (St Aldate's Oxford) tradition. I echo lots of the comments made already. We are a broad mix of people from different traditions and in different spiritual places - some come from churches where the 'Liturgy' is basically Worship-Word-Ministry, and have an understanding that the WL is the girl/guy up front who leads a (mainly musical worship) section of the service; other people are escapees from that type of setup!
We do have visiting speakers and a lot of students who may grow into helping lead aspects of the service - so we came up with a set of guidelines and duties for designated WLs - such as, the visiting speaker is asked in advance to choose the closing song/hymn only, but this can be veto'd if no-one knows it! The WL is responsible for choosing other music and interactive prayers for the all-age section and liaising with the band musical leader (we have designated band leaders for our three bands) and the church office so the playlist can be got ready and large print copies made in advance, etc etc. There's a list of WLs and each person's style is different, so it keeps things fresh and varied.
We have a rough outline for the morning and evening services with approximate times so there's a 'template'. It works pretty well but there are 'issues'. These are the main ones I can think of:
1. Some people who come from charismatic 'new' churches/smaller fellowships say we are too formulaic and it does not leave enough room for spontaneity. They would like to see the WL's "go off on one" a bit more often!
2. Some have a mis-perception that you have to be a musician with a guitar or keyboard to be a WL and that no-one else is allowed to do it (we do in fact have one or two non-musician WLs but when they lead they tend to be more like an M/C or Service Leader).
3. A few from a more conservative evangelical background are not entirely at ease with the whole aspect of a bunch of songs that often seem have a strong emotional content and would like to see other aspects such as prayer or preaching or the reading of the Word get more attention.
4. There's a tendency to focus on musical worship - other creative expressions are not given much prominence (e.g.visual aspects, bringing in all five senses as an expression of worship, other creative arts etc)
5. Practically, it's quite a lot more work than just turning up and standing there with a guitar, and takes a bit of administration. This makes it a bit harder to bring in new people, but it isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it helps people to know that there's a lot more to it than just turning up.
Like the variety of expressions in Anglicanism, every Baptist Church has its own distinct flavour and there is quite a lot of autonomy owing to its form of church governance. Hence, what we do or another church does may look quite different from the Baptist Union 'norm'. (e.g. see Altrincham Baptist Church's website regarding Worship).As you said in reply to Daniel - there are so many different ways of doing things (praise God!)
'we do in fact have one or two non-musician WLs but when they lead they tend to be more like an M/C or Service Leader).'
I think that is my problem with that sort of WL. They sound like DJ's introducing records on the radio. It really irritates me. Oh well. I did say I was a grumpy old woman.
This variety of responses is helping me. I guess the term WL and what it means is still very different in every church. I think I had assumed that it had a more universal application and meaning especially with so many Bible Colleges now teaching diplomas and degrees in Worship Leading.
WL or whatever I am, I'm getting ready with all the last minute WL admin before I go to this mornings service!
Perhaps the new term for WL should be "He or She who has tenacity and staying power"!
God Bless ... Paul
If you needed to go to bible college before leading worship then neither Tim Hughes nor Matt Redman would have even started...
I don't know, but I'd be prepared to bet that all the bible colleges teach a slightly different line anyway. And I bet most churches do not have the benefit of having someone in leadership who has studied this as a specialist topic in their theological education.
So, basically, we are bound to have loads of diversity in the UK church, partly from tradition (local or denominational), partly from theological education of leadership, and partly from whose conferences they go to, which books they read or which teaching tapes/CDs they listen to. Maybe, diversity isn't bad anyway, as long as we're staying close to the Word and Spirit.
I don't think the bible exactly gives much new testament teaching on worship leading as such, although it is clear that some people would always have more of a gifting for leadership or music than others. The old testament examples that sometimes get used in teaching are at best only going to be an approximation to the best practice that we should use in the church (e.g. no physical temple, etc.).
I have a book somewhere titled "what you wished they'd taught you at worship leading school" or somesuch. It's full of little monographs by the great and the good of the worship leading community, all the American leaders with their various letters and qualifications. There are just a couple of brits, including Graham Kendrick who was very noticeably unqualified (he's a teacher)(I forget who else).
There's a danger that we see something that 'works' somewhere else and try to transport it to the UK. I'm very much in 2 minds about training and giving people 'professional' qualifications in an area that is mostly dependent on gifting and anointing, yet want to see people built up and equipped. I would say that I am more concerned about equipping people that they might have techniques to do it in their own strength than I am about anointed people not doing it as well as they might possibly be able. I would rather be part of a rough Spirit-led meeting than a polished professional time of singing.
I'm not sure it is being imported for no reason other than fashion. I see it as a development in response to church leaders' requirements.
For eg. before Jamie and I were asked to go and lead worship at WBC, after several years of doing it in our previous church, we were asked, 'What training do you have?' Most of our training was through 'informal apprenticeship', if you like, but quoting several conferences, summer courses at LST etc definitely helped put his mind at rest. If ministers want their WL's to be theologically or practically trained, then universities and Bible Colleges are going to start cranking out qualified people.
Personally, I see people who are gifted (not sure I 'd go with 'annointed') in WL and learn from them. Nothing beats working in a team with someone who is really good at something.
Sometimes worship is just plain bad, because no one's thought it through.
Iwasn't suggesting it was for 'fashion' reasons, but what works in one country (or even one church) often doesn't work in another. I also recognise that rough worship isn't necessarily spirit-filled either, but I can think of examples where worship has been planned, rehearsed, still rough and not obviously spirit-filled.
I used the term 'anointed' because I think some people have a gifting for worship that's different from just ability + practice. And some people distinctly don't.
I'll see if I can find that book!