Worship Leader = Pastor
In my denomination, the “worship leader” is the Pastor – end of discussion, and I wholeheartedly support this. He has given 8 years of his life to higher education, he has pursued a Masters in Divinity and he has learned the Greek and Hebrew languages. What the rest of the Christian world refers to as a “Worship Leader”, we use the term “Musical Director” or “Musical Coordinator” or “Praise Band Leader” or some other similar term. This just seems right with me.
So, in the traditional church that predominantly uses hymns, what are the traits of this elusive “Praise Band Leader?” I can only tell you what traits I strive for after doing this for over a decade.
- I stay in the Word as much as possible by reading God’s word, devotional books and praying as often as possible.
- The only music that I listen to is Christian music. I keep on top of the new releases coming out of this genre and I collect lead sheets and piano arrangements. I also make it a habit to categorize all of my music by scripture reference.
- I attend church and bible class regularly and am active in my membership. It is an inseparable part of my life and is woven into my daily and weekly routines.
- I know my congregation well. I know them better than my own fretboard and believe me that says a lot. I know what songs they can sing and what songs they will enjoy in worship. I use this knowledge in choosing music.
- I follow my Synod and read as much of their correspondence as I can. I use their APPS, I bookmark and use their websites, I listen to their podcasts and I subscribe to all of their email lists. I strive to know their teachings and doctrines and apply these principles in choosing music.
- I am diligent in my work. I do my worship planning at least one month ahead of time and I submit my song choices to our Pastor so that he can review the lyrics for false teachings (and they do exist in some of today’s music) and for appropriateness for the intended Sunday. If it’s a new song, I also include a youtube link so that he can not only hear the lyrics but the style of the song as well. I respect his opinion and never second guess his responses. I trust him and I learn from him. He is responsible for our worship and has to answer to God and to his Synodical leaders if things go bad – not me. I fully understand this.
- I am well prepared when I am scheduled to accompany worship. I arrive early, do a sound check and organize my arrangements. We are well rehearsed and I know what lines I am singing, all the transitions and the song flow. Sometimes I will express my musical creativity through my guitar playing but never in a showy manner.
- I turn the other cheek when someone calls a song a “7/11” song or expresses other hurtful remarks with regards to either contemporary music or traditional hymns because both are worshipful and powerful and because I want to follow Jesus’ lead.
- I do my best to fix my eyes on Jesus at all times.
- I acknowledge the presence of the Spirit inside me and rely on Him to inspire, to teach and to lead me.
- I am not a leader, I am a servant.
- I am a sinner. The above characteristics are my goals and oftentimes I fall short.