Years ago, I came across John de Jong’s catalogue of different types of worship leaders (from his book Riding the Storm), which I thought was rather amusing. It’s tongue-in-cheek, but in the process, he makes some quite incisive observations about worship leading methodology.
So here are the categories, but I want to just make the disclaimer that any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental:
1. The Cheerleader
- After a hearty welcome, the cheerleader likes to encourage the congregation with a brief but uplifting “thought of the day” before launching into a bone-jarring praise song.
- He’s not too concerned about musical finesse; most songs feature scrubbed acoustic guitar (slightly but annoyingly out of tune).
- He is an eternal optimist and his approach involves much encouragement to “give God the glory” followed by frequent clap offerings.
- He often works up a sweat and is particularly fond of bouncing.
- It’s generally a good hour before he lets the pastor onto stage for the announcements.
2. The DJ
- The DJ is the cheerleader’s brother but attends a different church (again, any resemblance to real life is entirely coincidental! – I know my brother will read this and he’s going to say something to me.)
- He loves to talk especially between songs.
- He often prays extemporary prayers that are shallow, if not trite, using many well-worn cliches.
- He likes to start the service by explaining in detail why worship is really important.
- Before singing the first song, he reads a scripture that the Lord gave him that morning as he was cleaning his teeth.
- His eyes are closed most of the time but he frequently opens them to check that that congregation is paying attention.
- At the end of the song, he will remind the congregation why the have just finished the last song before helpfully explaining why the next song was chosen.
3. The Dictator
- The dictator is essentially a control freak.
- He is a bit like the cheerleader with all the compassion squeezed out of him.
- He is sometimes a serious, domineering, priest-like figure who seldom smiles yet often stares with piercing eyes at the congregation or he wears the mask of super-spirituality, retreating behind a veil of mystical communion.
- He often exhibits a breathtaking command of Scripture.
- He might accuse some of the congregation of failing to worship with sufficient abandon.
- Whilst he is a capable musician, he seems almost unable to enjoy himself and unable to relinquish control to allow people to find their own pathway to Jesus.
- He likes hymns with challenging lyrics rather than musical or artistic beauty.
- Instead of gently leading people into worship, he will march boldly ahead expecting them to follow.
4. The Transcendental Meditator
- He stands at the front with his eyes firmly closed most of the time.
- His voice is not very loud but he’s a pretty good (acoustic) guitarist having spent hours in his bedroom working out new chord inversions.
- Sometimes when he leads worship, the congregation is unaware that the service has started.
- He loves working in a team, but sometimes the musicians around him get bored.
- Songs seem to go on forever as he gently sways.
- He cannot stand shallow praise songs, but instead prefers repetitive dirges that lead him towards Nirvana as the congregation dreams of coffee and doughnuts.
- He likes the sound of the phrase “deep calls unto deep” but hasn’t a clue what it means.
5. The Small Animal in Bright Lights
- The small animal in bright lights is a pretty girl (remember, this is John de Jong’s words, not mine!).
- Someone once told her that if she fixed her eyes on a point on the back wall just above the last pew, it would look as though she was making eye contact with people without actually having to look at them. What they failed to tell her was that it’s advisable to change the spot occasionally, so now she looks like a rabbit caught in headlights.
- Her mum says she has a really nice voice, but few people have actually heard it.
- She’s a real sweetie and no one minds that they can’t actually hear her sing.
- When she’s feeling really relaxed, she closes her eyes and lifts one hand in worship.
When I first read this list, I had to have a bit of a chuckle and I mentally slotted in the worship leader friends I had into the different categories.
I’m a definitely a cheerleader, but not attractive enough to be a real cheerleader! Yes, I do encourage people to “give God the glory” and I really, really love clap offerings. In fact, I can’t stand a worship set not ending with a rousing clap offering! And I bounce too. When it gets really exciting, I might even … twirl. Yes, that’s right, twirl! There I said it!
So, what type of worship leader are you: cheerleader, DJ, dictator, transcendental meditator or deer caught in headlights? Post your comments below.