Making the Most of the Situation

Featuring Bob Kauflin Posted on April 28, 2010

I would abolish forever the notion of a “worship leader.” If you want to have a “song leader” who leads part of the worship, just as the preacher leads part of the worship, that's fine. But to call the person a “worship leader” takes away the idea that by preaching, teaching, listening to and devouring the word of God, and applying it to our lives, we are somehow not worshiping God.

Carson makes a great point. If the individual leading the singing is the“worship” leader, it can imply we aren't worshiping God during the rest of the meeting. But activities such as praying for others, giving financially, and studying God's Word together are also acts of worship that bring glory to God. 

So I've started using different names for the person who leads the singing, depending on the situation. Music minister. Worship pastor. Service leader.Corporate worship leader. Lead worshiper. Or one of my favorites, the Music Guy.

And while I agree with Dr. Carson's perspective, I don't think we have to lose the term worship leader. It succinctly communicates that our goal is to lead others in praising God. But neither should we exaggerate the significance of the phrase or attach a biblical authority to it.

Because Scripture is vague about the worship leader role, churches assign differing degrees of significance to it. Humanly speaking, the pastor isthe worship leader. He is the one responsible before God for the corporateworship of the church (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:12–13). That includes what songs are sung, what is preached, what activities we engage in.

In other churches the worship leading task might be distributed among different individuals, such as a pastor, song leader, service leader, or elder.

But in most churches, designated worship leaders play a fairly prominent role. They can lead up to half the meeting and have a sizable influence onhow the church practices and thinks about worshiping God. That can be good or bad, depending on who's leading. 

That's why I wrote this book.

No matter how important we think the worship leader role is or isn't, everyweek those who lead congregational worship have significant opportunities to teach, train, and encourage God's people in praising him rightly and living for his glory. In that sense worship leaders follow in the footsteps of Old Testament Levites who taught the Israelites what God required in worship and how they could faithfully follow him.


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