Hi everyone!

 

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.

 

Thoughts?

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I appreciate that Dee. I'm starting to feel like Phil describes - that it's become a title tainted with stardom and fame. That it's become about someone standing up there and taking control of the congregation, rather than providing a platform and stepping back to see what God is going to do with it.

 

 

Well, it seems to me there are at least 2 other threads here struggling to get out.

 

1. Should a Worship Leader (or whatever name we give to the leading/organising musician) lead? If so, how, when and by how much?

2. In what ways has the term Worship Leader recently become stained by the actions of some?

 

But perhaps I haven't worded these properly because I don't really understand?

On 1) I think that we need a leader who draws the whole thing together and leads us in a direction.  By all means, lets be open to the leading of the spirit, which could come through another member of the music team, the leadership or the congregation, but in the absence of any other leading we need someone setting the rough direction.  So, yes to worship leaders, as long as they still giving God permission to be God and do something different if he wishes. 

That said, the common struggle, as hinted at by me above, is that congregations are often more comfortable with structured, predictable worship, than with more spontaneous arrangements.

Practically, to effectively lead a song, someone has to sing the lead melody line, and it helps if you can hear them!
I find this approach works very well in smaller groups - where everyone can contribute freely. It's harder logistically in a congregation of 150+, but we often have an open time where people can pray openly, share etc.

I am called the Worship Leader and my role is this:

 

Produce the rota on a quarterly basis

Ensure that sung worship is provided at main meetings and corporate mid-week meetings, together with any special events we hold.  I'm not necessarily the 'lead' at meetings (we have a number of people including myself who do that), I just make sure there is something arranged.

At the moment, I have stepped in to operate the mics as there are only a couple of others who do this (who are also heavily involved in the playing of instruments).

Whoever is allocated to lead the service's sung worship session is responsible for choosing the songs, and then we practice weekly and it's here we decide (together) the most appropriate key and format to the songs.

As 'leader' of a small group I tend to put myself into the rota where there are gaps as I lead and/or play keys and/or sing. 

 

We have another person who leads the meeting.  He welcomes the congregation, gives notices, hands over to whoever is leading the sung worship, and then brings this to an close ready for the sermon.  The worship leader of that service decides how long to continue each song and whether or not to pray/talk between.  We always give opportunity for prayer and for God to speak to us too.

 

I think I should be called the 'Worship Team Leader' - as in leading the team.  Mmmm ...

Worship Team Leader does sound more like what you do. Thanks for explaining.

 

I think that the term Worship leader has become somewhat tainted and I feel that a lot of the time we have lost the preciousness of the ministry. I feel that sometimes too much is made of the role in some quarters and folk have been elevated far above a healthy status.

The reality is that anyone in a worship leading role is only as important and just as important as anyone on the cleaning rota or anyone in a voluntary position in the church who is seeking to serve with all their heart.

I love leading worship & serving as a musician but I think that I/we are all kind of guilty of buying into thinking that we are bigger and better than we are.

I/we need to rediscover the lost role of servant leadership.

Sorry this probably isn't very helpful but I'm just kind of cheesed off with the whole 'worship leader' superstar thing....especially when I find that attitude within myself ;o)

Phil - I think this is true on many levels, and even in a small congregation a lot of people only see the 'glamourous' bit (if I can call it that).

For most of us in smaller churches which may only have one or two full-time paid posts, there is all the stuff that Suz above describes to be done, all on a voluntary basis - organising rotas, stepping in when no-one else can play, not going away for weekends, playing the unglamourous services in mid-summer (like Wulf), stepping out the way when someone else needs space to grow into a music ministry, working with new team members, dragging gear in and out, being in church 2hrs more than the rest of the congregation, going to practices on a wet Friday evening, shelling out for new strings and kit and music and whatever from one's own pocket....and just trying to be an honest worshiper in my daily life!

But I still love it, and love to serve in this way - and pray to God that if the ego ever gets in the way of worship, that He would quickly lay me aside. And you are so right - it is no more or less important than any other serving role in the church.

God bless you.

James

PS My particular gripe is seeing things marketed as 'The Best Worship Album Ever!', churned out each year. It just drives me nuts and I'm sure that it must grate on the nationally recognised worship musicians who contribute to them!!

'But I still love it, and love to serve in this way - and pray to God that if the ego ever gets in the way of worship, that He would quickly lay me aside. And you are so right - it is no more or less important than any other serving role in the church.'

 

Why are we so concerned about prideful attitudes in the musicians WL and not in the flower arranger/cleaner/refreshment person, or the Youth Leader or the Children's Worker or, {gasp!} the Minister!

 

Personally, I've experienced WAY more casual criticism in my up-front role than in any of the 'behind the scenes' roles I've also had. People always want to build up those in the other roles but it's always open season on people with musical gifts. In my personal experience.

 

I guess I just don't see any WL's with egotistic attitudes. I see them doing other things I don't think are a good idea, some that don't practice enough, for eg, or who don't communicate with the other people involved in the service enough, but 'superstar WL'S'? Nope.

Actually, I have seen WLs treated shockingly (in my opinion) by certain elements of the church, including the leadership....

So sorry that you have had a crock of negative criticism from your people; many people often don't see the 'responsibility' side of the job.

I guess I was primarily talking to myself re: my own ego, as thankfully I won't have to give an account for someone else's wrong attitude or behaviour.

Re: Phil's comment about servant leadership, that's always been an issue for anyone in any recognised position, and one that's caused problems throughout church history.

 

There's also a general rule of thumb that if you stick your head above the parapet then you become a target. If you want to be in leadership, and particularly doing something as emotive as music, then you're BOUND to draw fire from who ever doesn't like what you do.

It seems to me that WL's can win though, Toni :-)

 

Either they're the *same* as everyone else eg Cleaner, Tea-maker, Flower Arranger, Welcome Team member, Children's Worker etc, ie a unique part of the Body doing a unique and just as valuable job and subject to the same criteria for appreciation as everyone else,

 

Or, they are somehow *different* because they are, by virtue of being a singer or musician, somehow a 'leader' subject to a higher standard.

 

Or they are both?

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