Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fire the Worship Leader!

I've been thinking about firing myself lately (not that I'm sure that's possible). I just don't want to be a worship leader anymore...seriously!

Well, maybe I should explain. I actually don't have a concrete title here at Nags Head Church...when I came, I was looking for something other than "Worship Leader", but we never really settled on anything. Most people in our church would call me "worship leader" if you asked them who I was, and I typically tell people that "I'm in charge of worship and the creative arts" when they ask what my title is.

But, while I'm not crazy about the title, I have always seen myself as a worship leader...somebody who helps to lead the worship (musical and other). But, lately, I've been thinking that this description really doesn't fly with me. Here's why:

To be a leader of people, one must have followers.

A follower is basically somebody who waits to do anything until they're told how, what, when, etc. to do it. At NHC, we do our best to free people from tradition and ritual so that they can truly worship God as freely as they are willing and able. To call myself (or anyone else) a worship leader is to perpetuate the idea that worship happens when and how I say it happens...that's not what we want.

We believe that God desires NHC to be a church full of leaders...worship leaders, ministry leaders, giving leaders, mercy leaders, community leaders, etc. Of course, there are healthy, Biblical parameters that guide how and when and where we do things as believers in Christ, but we want to equip and release people to be free and creative to take responsibility (with God in control) of their own lives.

I should be constantly reminding our band, through what I say and how I "lead" that, not only on the stage, but every time they find themselves in any kind of group situation, they have the potential to be a worship leader. And, it doesn't have to be musical worship...anything we think, say or do that brings glory to God can and should be an act of worship.

My vision for our congregational worship is to see each person bringing their own personal worship to our corporate gatherings, adding their individual voice to the song, and then, turning around and taking the worship they experienced during our time together back out into their day-to-day lives. Can you imagine what it might be like if this took place every week at your church? I can tell you one job as a worship leader would become a whole lot easier (and maybe even pointless).

My goal on Sunday morning, as I explain to our band and our attenders on a regular basis, is to simply get the ball rolling and then step out of the way. There is nothing more exciting for me, as a person helping to lead corporate worship, to see people off the stage taking the step, whether consciously or not, to be worship leaders. It's a powerful thing to watch one undignified worshipper change the atmosphere of a worship gathering by, without any prompting from me, standing, kneeling, clapping, shouting, singing, lifting their hands, or closing their eyes...they're never left alone for long, as others see their example and join them.

So, what do you think? Have you ever considered what your roll as a "worship leader" is really all about, and if that title is really the best description? Have you ever thought that you might be trying to teach people to worship one way while subliminally communicating something else by the lingo you use?


If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to read the other posts in the Rethinking "Worship" series:

Gag The Worship Leader!

Terminate the Worship Team!

Death to the Worship Service!

Burn the Sanctuary!


Apple said...

We could call you the NHC "creative arts facilitator." That wouldn't be a mouthful to say or anything.

And, no, I did not miss the point of your post...and it was a good. (Said in a Bruce Almighty way.)

zanne said...

a friend of mine in phoenix, who eventually ended up with both my job of overseeing ALL arts teams at the church (originally titled "Pastor of Worship Arts")--and the job of the music worship leader (originally titled "Lead Worshipper") re-titled himself "Pastor of Devotional Arts".

i loved it, because it doesn't isolate worship to one area/department of the church, and it also doesn't seem to limit worship to an expression of music. where i am now, i pastor the "Devotional Arts" department, (yes, i stole the title!) and we have two part time "Music Worship Leaders" and a "Music Worship Director".

my viewpoint on leading music worship (which i don't do myself) is that it's like being a safari guide. you've been there before, so you can bring people on the journey, and you can point things out to them that they haven't necessarily seen or would even know to look for, and yet still be part of the group. your excitement and passion for the experience they can have is part of the gift that you give when you lead. and yes, the other people in the band should be helping to guide, too, and then there are the people in the congregation--some who are new to the safari, and some of whom are very familiar with the journey--in their own way they become guides, too. people need an up-front face or faces to connect with, to share the experience with, and even to be led by--but then that connection can spread. and, as you've said, that experience then filters out into everyday relationship, too.

after all--worship happens (or should happen!) in every part of our lives, and in all sorts of ways. part of leading in the church, in any capacity, is remembering that, and helping others to remember.

John Phillips said...

Your thoughts reflect my own recent thinking. I have been a so called worship leader in small churches and have become uncomfortable with the title. Jesus is the true worship leader who stands before the throne on our account. Worship leader conjures up the idea of some sort of priest but again Jesus is our high priest. I have been thinking of been referred to as worship servant or maybe even better just plain servant.
IHG- John