Music in Its Rightful Place: The Importance of Capacity and Context

In our last worship leader’s mentoring session, we talked about the role of music in worship. In the modern worship landscape, music and worship are almost synonymous. Of course, the more informed amongst us are keenly aware of the separation, but often struggle to articulate the difference or to hold the tension.

I posited seemingly disparate themes to the group:

1.  Music and the Heart of Worship

For many of us who were around in the 1990s, the role of music in worship was beginning to reach dizzying heights. The praise and worship movement which began with grassroots, organic musical expression began to mature until we got to the point where we began to exalt musicianship and excellence above heart. Musical servants gave way to worship artistes.

Against this background, Soul Survivor Church’s Mike Pilavachi wrestled with the idea that the church had become connoisseurs of worship, rather than participants in it. So, he sacked the band. Until  the church learnt how to bring its own offering of worship, there would be no musicians on the platform.

Out of this context, Matt Redman’s song “Heart of Worship” was born. It spoke out of, and to, a church in a particular season where worship did indeed become a spectator sport. Pilavachi challenged us to all be performers of worship – for the audience of One.

2.  The Power of Music

Music is inherently powerful, either within the context of worship or otherwise.

We all know this instinctively. When we watch a horror movie, the best way to dampen the suspense and sense of encroaching fear is to simply block your ears. Once that happens, the tension and stress of a scary scene is almost immediately lost.

Plato once said:

Give me the making of the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws, I will control its people.

Historians say that the music of the Beatles, broadcast from the West, penetrated the Iron Curtain and helped spark the collapse of communism. Mikhail Gorbachev said “it taught the young people of the Soviet Union that … there is freedom elsewhere.” The music of the Beatles catalysed a political and cultural revolution. This is the power of music.

Pioneers of church worship recognise this power, too. Lamar Boschman said:

Music is one of mankind’s most fundamental avenues of communication, and one of the most successful because it transcends the conscious mind and reaches the subconscious.

Music affects us; it moves us; and it stirs our emotions.

In the context of worship, the question is: where does the power of music end, and the power of God’s Spirit begin?

3.  Music and God’s Presence

We often hear worship leaders say something like this: “we enter into God’s presence with singing”; or “God inhabits our praises”; or “as we play and sing, the Holy Spirit is going to move in our midst”.

The suggestion is that somehow, musical praise might somehow bring down God’s presence.

We might ask the question this way: did the sound of the trumpet bring down the walls of Jericho?

Harold Best says:

Whenever we assume that art mediates God’s presence or causes him to be tangible, we have begun to trek idol territory. Our present-day use of music as the major up-front device for worship is a case in point. We need to ask ourselves if we, as worship leaders, are giving the impression that we draw near to God through music or that God draws near because of it. Is music our golden calf?

Can we worship without music, and if so, why don’t we? Why do we put ourselves in the way of temptation?

4.  The Scriptural Impetus of Music in Scriptures

Despite the inherent dangers of music and the risk of idolatry, it would seem clear that the Bible mandates the use of music to accompany worship and sacrifice, even if the Bible doesn’t clearly define the relationship.

We see example after example, such as Miriam’s celebration song after the Exodus; David’s establishing of musicians and singers to minister around the Ark; the use of musicians when Hezekiah restored temple worship; Paul and Silas’ singing hymns in the prison. Even the largest book which sits in the middle of the Bible is a collection of sung verses.

Holding It All in Tension

So, how we do hold it all in tension? We know that music is Scripturally-mandated. We know it has something to do with God’s presence. And yet, we know it is dangerous and can often steal our hearts. It causes us to mistaken emotional hype and sensation with God’s tangible presence.

Music must be given its rightful place. Worship is first and foremost about the heart. Music is a tool. But it is an effective tool.

Here are some thoughts:

  • Music gives structure. It unifies the gathered church to sing one melody to one rhythm; it moulds us together out of our disparate thoughts and focuses us back to God.
  • Music engages us. It beckons us and calls us away from our own burdened souls; it moves us emotionally and gives voice to our innermost cries.
  • Music affects us. It moves our faith beyond the realm of the intellect to something which is felt.

Ultimately, music is not the end of worship, God is. Music and the musicians are merely servants.

Good Music versus Bad Music

If music is an important tool (and I think it is), then the question is: what of good music and bad music?

In my church, we are blessed with a pretty decent group of some 50 or so musicians and singers and we are always pushing ourselves to only get better at our craft. You might say, well, if music isn’t the end game, should we care how excellent we are?

And what of the small church down the road with hardly any musicians, all of whom have plenty of heart but less so musical competence?

What of quality?

This is where, as my wife pointed out to me (because she always has lots of revelation) that context and capacity matter.

If music is used to serve the people, as no doubt it must, then we must ask: what people are we serving? If we are serving a church full of musicians in Nashville, then mediocre garage band quality might just not cut it. Even now, amongst our church musicians, some of them get easily distracted with the slightest hint of off-pitched singing or imprecise rhythm. (Thankfully, God has gifted me with musical dullness so I can’t hear all the imperfections!).

On the other hand, a small home group will be much more forgiving on the musical technicalities, and be easily led by a display of heartfelt (but off-tune) praise.

Capacity then looks at what you, as a church, can afford, and what level of skill, as an individual, you can offer. As worshippers, we ought to only give God the best offering we can. If you have more to give, then give more. If you can afford a more lavish set up, then by all means bring it before the Lord as your sacrifice of praise. Don’t skimp on quality or even expense. But be prudent about it. If your congregation can’t discern the difference, then you might be a better steward to deploy your resources to other ministries which serve the congregation better.

I like how Mike Cosper, in his book Rhythms of Grace thinks about the role of music in worship. He uses the catchphrase, “Worship: One, Two, Three”. He says:

  • worship has one author and object, that is God;
  • worship has two contexts, that is, worship scattered as we go about worshipping in our everyday lives; and worship gathered, whenever the church comes together to instruct and edify each other;
  • worship has three audiences: God, the church and the watching world.

When we think about worship with three audiences, instead of One, context and capacity becomes all the more important. We understand that our musical offering is first and foremost service unto God, but we must also hold it in balance as it serves and teaches our fellow brothers and sisters, and then as it draws the seekers amongst us. Seeker-friendly and Spirit-friendly are not mutually exclusive, but part of the one continuum.

Worship for the audience of One was right for its time, but I believe now, faithful musical offering requires us to balance capacity and context to serve three audiences.

Book Review: Future Worship by Lamar Boschman

One of the assignments I have to complete as part of the Metro Worship Academy is a book review. Students were given a select list of texts on worship to read and review. I chose Lamar Boschman’s Future Worship because it is one of the key texts which have shaped my own views on worship practice. So I am killing two birds with one stone: I’m recommending an important book to those who read this blog (particularly if you are a worship leader) that will help you understand the intersection of worship and culture. And I’m also completing an assessment item at the same time. Win!

Future Worship

I have long considered Lamar Boschman one of the pioneers of the modern praise and worship movement. Not only did Boschman model church worship expression through his worship leadership, he also provided, as a teacher, the much needed Biblical blueprint that laid the foundation for the movement.

I first read Boschman’s Future Worship (Ventura: Renew Books, 1999) some years ago. Reading it again recently, with many more years of ministry experience under my belt, I was confronted by just how many of Boschman’s predictions about the coming shape of worship in the new millennium were beginning to be realised.

Blending references from theologians, philosophers and futurists (just so you know that this is going to be a meaty book), Boschman begins with an indictment on the current state of worship in many churches: overly plastic, image-conscious and performance-based worship that has fomented consumerism, dislocation and spiritual disconnectedness. In his wry style, he states:

Today, worship is too often a cacophonous, raucous, aerobic dance class. People stand on platforms and command you to do stuff that you would never do in any rational moment of your life… like turning to the total stranger next to you and screaming, MY NAME IS BRADLEY AND I’M A JESUS POWER RANGER! (pp 41-42)

But yet, there is hope. After all Future Worship is not just about the present, it is about learning the lessons of the past so we can paint a glorious future.

And so, the theme of birth pangs and contractions dominate: the idea that perhaps, the disillusionment and unsettledness is the result of the conflict between a dying era and one that is struggling to be born. Boschman states (at 48):

While most people may not describe that succinctly or eloquently, most are aware of a prevailing and bewildering sense of confusion and ambiguity. What they may not possess, however, is a sense of perspective about it: these things are merely the beginnings of birth pangs…. A new world is being born.

For students of worship, Boschman puts the modern worship movement in its historical context like no other book on worship (except perhaps say Robert Webber’s Worship Old and New). Boschman provides a sweeping analysis of communications media (from the oral tradition, to the printed word, to the electronic age and finally to the new digital revolution) and how they have shaped the development of the church’s worship expression and its core values. He tells us how we got to where we are. And then, importantly, he tells us to look beyond the familiarities of the past towards new frontiers of possibilities.

In the past 20 years, church (and its worship) has changed. Churches are becoming more “post-modern” and “emergent” even though they may resist those labels.

But the key point in Boschman’s analysis is that the new digital age is facilitating a convergence of the best elements of the preceding ages. He states (at 164):

A crucial part of this unhindered Church of the future is the principle of convergence – the recognition and blending of various strengths of worship found in the oral, print and electronic ages of the Church.

Personality cults are beginning to fade into the background as even the most insignificant of voices are given expression and validity through the digital platform. Communities are reaching beyond denominational, racial and geographical lines as members of the body of Christ connect and network across cyberspace towards truly realising the vision of a church universal. The rigidities of time are being overthrown. Even ancient kinships (as Boschman puts it) are being rekindled.

This is the new worship revolution. As another prophetic worshipper once put it, it is where “all the streams flow as one river / To wash away our brokenness” (Martin Smith, “Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble”).

From the Archives: Next Generational Leadership

It’s actually been a while since my last blog post. In the last couple of months, I have had many ministry opportunities come my way which have kept me pretty busy (hence the radio silence), including taking up a bigger role in my home church. This evening, I was working on an assignment as part of my course of study at Metro Worship Academy and I was writing a book review on Lamar Boschman’s Future Worship. As I was getting distracted reading through my blog (and considering what it means when Boschman talks about the birth of a new worship culture), I came across this post on “Next Generational Leadership”. I was again struck by the relevance of what I wrote here last year to my current journey some months later. So I’m regurgitating this post because for me, it has taken on new meaning in a new context. Especially when I again see the great pool of talent in the generation of leaders that are coming after me.

I was off work today, recovering from a cold, and I spent a good deal of the day devouring Ross Parsley’s new book, Messy Church. Yesterday, I suggested that everyone should get a copy of it. See my post here.

I’m about halfway through the book and what Parsley is advocating is to see the church and its mission through an entirely new lens: the church, not as a well-oiled corporate machine, but as family, where life reigns over structure, relationship reigns over protocol. And where there is life, there is usually mess. But it’s okay for church to be messy.

I couldn’t agree more.

Part of the appeal of this book is that many of the lessons learnt were forged in the context of worship ministry, when Parsley was the worship pastor of New Life Church. It is interesting to see how worship ministry is often the place where a lot of the issues of church are often played out most sharply.

As I read this book, I saw a lot of my own philosophies of worship ministry being articulated, and articulated well.

In 2010, when I was one of the worship ministry leaders setting up a new satellite service planted by my then church, one of the things I was keen to do was to involve and grow the next generation of leaders. My co-leader and I decided to establish what we called a “Think Tank”, a group of emerging leaders in the worship ministry who would bring fresh and innovative ideas into worship ministry, but who would also get the opportunity to work alongside, and to glean from, more seasoned leaders. I even challenged some of them that in two years’ time, they could take over my job and I would remain to stand alongside them, rather than to lead them.

Parsley presses the need for a multigenerational approach to ministry, which he calls the “family worship table”. The key is to invite the younger generation to the table, because freshness and innovation lay with that generation. He says:

“The family worship table” was a way to describe our multigenerational approach that would help every age-group embrace people at different points on the age continuum….

The commitment to use Sundays as a gathering place for the “family worship table” began when I started thinking about how to integrate fresh faces and young hearts into the leadership of worship at New Life Church. We made a shift in our church to remain musically relevant, and I struggled to get people to understand what we were doing. New Life had always been a charismatic church theologically, but our style and culture had stagnated. We were thriving spiritually but hadn’t progressed in our expression artistically or musically…. The church continued to grow, and we built the foundations of a successful worship ministry with strong musicians and biblical teaching, but we weren’t moving culturally at the speed we needed to. I recruited some young college graduates to inject life into our ministry and help chart the course ahead….

Slowly, we began to change and experience genuine multigenerational worship. New Life was a thriving and healthy church, but as we began to change musically and artistically, the process uncovered some poor attitudes and selfishness in some who had been there for a while. Some of the family did not want to invite the kids to the table. They wanted them to stay at their own kids’ table.

Parsley goes on to make a pretty bold claim: “Young people create the culture of our tables, our churches, and our country… Our job as parents is to raise them – to influence them and give them our hearts”.

My own experience agrees with this statement. The older I get, and the longer I have been in worship ministry, the more I realise how “uncool” I’m becoming. Even using the word “uncool” betrays my lack of “coolness”. Young people interact and integrate with, and influence, culture in a way I can’t even begin to grasp. Some of the guys in our “Think Tank” were actually “back seat driving” our worship culture by telling me to listen to new songs and to deploy them in our worship sets. In the end, our ministry owed a lot to the young people for pushing us all forward.

However, we are often like Eliab (David’s older brother) and Saul. When Goliath stood there day after day, taunting the armies of Israel, Saul was paralysed, with no new strategies for victory. In comes David the young punk to deliver some cheese to his brothers. And Eliab tells him (with a great deal of indignation perhaps), “Shouldn’t you be back home looking after the sheep?” When David finally gets to confront Goliath, Saul gives his armour to David: ill-fitting, heavy and speaking of old methods and paradigms. Instead, David rejects the old, and launches an assault that is completely innovative (but birthed by God): a sling and a smooth-stone to the forehead of the giant.

Many of us who have been in the game a long time are reluctant to hand control over to the young, because in our minds, they are tempestuous upstarts who lack credible experience. If we let them play, we become like Saul, forcing old paradigms and old wineskins in the hope of somehow containing the new flow of the Spirit and the new wine.

By the way, anyone who thinks that we don’t need to keep renewing our worship expression stands on dangerously tenuous ground. We simply can’t keep singing the songs that are 20 years old and expect the next generation to connect with them. Personally, I love the songs of the 90s because they were the songs I was first taught as a young Christian. But stylistically, they mean nothing to the present generation. They simply make the church look old and weary. Of course, there can be space for blending of old and new (I often like to throw in an old song into every worship set) but if we don’t keep moving forward, as they say, we are actually moving backward.

Parsley goes on to say:

Wouldn’t it be incredible if we could take the maturity, wisdom and resources of age and put them together with the energy, enthusiasm, and creativity of youth? Our churches would be an unstoppable force in our communities….

Creating opportunities for young and inexperienced leaders is one of the most effective tools we have to continue to make the church dynamic and relevant in our culture. Helping young leaders is extremely challenging because it demands accountability, it involves some risk, and it can be downright messy; but it is indispensable to a church that is committed to longevity.”

I don’t think the question we should ask is whether our young people are ready. If we ask that, we will always conclude that they are not. The question is whether the older generation is ready to stand alongside the youth, to nurture them, to father them, to guide them and to create safe spaces for them to take risks and push established boundaries.

So, this is a call for worship ministry leaders to participate in the “family worship table”, to build up the next generation of leaders of our churches and ministries.

Will it work? I believe that the results speak for themselves. New Life Church and Desperation Band, through Parsley’s leadership, remains one of the cutting edge forces in the worship landscape today, producing worship music that is relevant, edgy and yet congregation-friendly. And that sort of legacy can be ours too.

Should We Keep Harping on Hymns?

Today, I am continuing my series on Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs. In particular, I want to explore the use of “hymns” in our worship services and ask the question: are they still a valid musical expression for the church today?

The emergence of hymns was very much a product of the Reformation. Luther understood the importance of music as a means of instilling and preserving doctrine. He decided that songs should be written in the German language and commissioned poets and musicians to do so. He wanted the songs to faithfully communicate God’s Word. Luther also wrote a lot of hymns himself.

Lamar Boschman describes the characteristics of those hymns:

The songs were ‘doctrine heavy’ in content because the paradigm in this culture focused on principle and purpose. They wanted to remove mysticism and focus on the doctrines of the Christian faith. That caused many of the songs to have a horizontal focus; their purpose was to testify, reason and proclaim principle. It was in essence ‘singing the sermon’.

The Reformation was very much a thinking revolution.

The post-modern church however is experiential in orientation, but that doesn’t mean it is devoid of the Word. Perhaps one could say that the post-modern church is marrying the “word and the spirit”.

I found this once when I was doing some research but can’t remember where I got it from. It is a statement published in 1723 against the use of hymns. Here’s what the author said about hymns:

  1. It is too new, like an unknown language.
  2. It is not as melodious as the more established style.
  3. There are so many songs that it is impossible to learn them all.
  4. It creates disturbances and causes people to act in an indecent and disorderly manner.
  5. It places too much emphasis on instrumental music rather than on godly lyrics.
  6. The lyrics are often worldly, even blasphemous.
  7. It is not needed, since preceding generations have gone to heaven without it.
  8. It monopolises the Christian’s time and encourages them to stay out late.
  9. These new musicians are young upstarts, and some of them lewd and loose persons.

It is ironic how some of these arguments are still being employed in the church today. Such as the new songs “aren’t as melodious” as the hymns; “there’s too much emphasis on instrumental music”; “the lyrics are too worldly”, “the musicians don’t cut their hair and wear skinny jeans”. Sounds familiar?

And yet, the Bible commands us to “sing to the Lord a new song.” That means that what was sung yesterday (the old song) may not necessarily be what we should continue to sing today.

Psalm 102:25-27 says this:

In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
Like clothing you will change them
and they will be discarded.
But you remain the same,
and your years will never end.

God never changes. His Word remains forever. But He is always bringing renewal. Methods and expressions of unchanging truth need to evolve with the times.

What was relevant about the hymns in Luther’s days may no longer be relevant today. What was parochial and relatable in those days may no longer parochial and relatable today.

So what has the modern worship movement achieved? I think we can safely say that the songs are less horizontally-focussed and more vertically-focussed. Worship is definitely more about our engagement with God’s spirit in exalting Him rather than in exhorting man. And just like hymns were relevant to their contemporaries, we can say that the modern worship movement has kept up with the times and in some cases, ran ahead of the times too.

That is not to say that hymn singing should be shelved forever. There are some definite benefits of singing hymns. The songs of the church have become so diversified that what one congregation might be familiar with would be completely foreign to another congregation. Hymns on the other hand become a common ground when churches of different backgrounds gather together. Nostalgia is another benefit. Nostalgia is good if it is the trigger towards a person turning their attention to God in worship. And of course the emphasis on doctrine is good too.

But when someone says that we should do more hymns, we are ignoring that new songs can have the same benefits. For example, it is a massive overgeneralisation to say that current songs don’t have the same theological emphasis as the hymns. In fact, many do. Matt Redman’s songs are a good example. Many books in the Christian bookstores today have been written using modern worship songs as their inspiration.

Inasmuch as there are a lot of good elements in new worship songs, there are also a lot of good elements in hymns. Similarly, there are bad elements in worship songs, and there are bad element in hymns. But the modern worship song has an a priori claim to being culturally relevant today which a lot of hymns don’t.

Don’t get me wrong: I can happily worship and be touched by the words and melody of “Amazing Grace”. I love that rising swell of praise whenever the congregation lift their voices together to “How Great Thou Art”. But “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” is beyond me. The words and concepts are hard to grasp. Instead of instilling theology, my mind starts to wander (as it is prone to do!). And I ask questions like “what’s an Ebenezer anyway? Is that like the Dickensian Mr Scrooge?”

So after all of this, I return to the question at the beginning of this post: should we be singing hymns in our worship services? The answer is “yes, if you want to”. That’s right: if you like them and want to do them, why not? Don’t be so religious. At the same time, don’t be so religious by thinking that hymns are better than modern worship songs. The key actually is not in the style of song, but by far the more important question should be: how do we help our congregations worship? As worship leaders we must diligently filter songs to ensure that as much as possible, they capture all the good and leave out all the bad, be they hymns or modern worship songs. We should also keep on the cutting edge so that the congregation doesn’t just linger on the old, but has a healthy diet of new songs which are constantly being written. And keeping in mind that one day, some of the songs of today will (hopefully) become as ancient and enduring as some of the hymns themselves.

Worship Leaders Who Talk Too Much

I had just finished a couple of hours of tennis with some friends of mine, some of whom actively serve in church worship.

One of the guys (a young, upcoming worship leader) made the observation that sometimes, worship leaders spend too much time talking at the start of the service. In fact, he said, at his old church, the senior pastor had to restrict the worship leaders from talking at the start of the service.

And it made me wonder: do I talk too much when I lead worship?

At Faith Community Church, the chairperson usually introduces the service and “gets the crowd ready”. (No, they don’t do a stand-up routine in case that’s what you were thinking). As soon as the chairperson is done, the drums click in and away we go with the first song.

When I led worship in my previous church, I would often start with an exhortation to try to engage the congregation.

I realise now that I did have a bad habit of talking too much!

There are many reasons why worship leaders talk too much. Here I want to set out some reasons (and perhaps some possible remedies):

Building Rapport

The worship model that has the worship leader say very little during the worship set has a disadvantage of having the worship leader as a mere “figurehead”, i.e. the worship leader becomes almost like a lead vocalist who just has the loudest voice and the coolest solo parts. On its face, the unsophisticated congregant won’t realise that the worship leader is also shaping the worship set as they go.

Rapport is extremely important in weekly church worship leading.

Unlike a conference setting (say like Hillsong Conference) where everybody comes pumped and ready to worship, the church worship leader (who is “on” every week, or every two or three weeks) faces a different challenge: familiarity. As they say, familiarity breeds contempt. That’s not to say that the congregation resents their worship leader; it’s just that they are more unforgiving of mistakes and more critical.

The opportunity to talk to the congregation is a way to build rapport.

But I want to suggest that rapport is best built up in participating in the life of the church apart from the stage.

In my last church, I had (I hope) the respect of the congregation not because of what I said on stage, but because I had helped to stack chairs; attended a small group; manned stalls at the church food fair; mentored some people; did Bible study with others; ate dinner with the youth; ate dinner with the older folks; got “in the face” of lots of people!

So the cure for the talkative worship leader? Build rapport at the grassroots level.

Focus the Congregation for Worship

Let’s face it. Because of the familiarity phenomenon, the congregation often will not come to church ready to worship. So worship leaders feel the need to try to rev the congregation up before the first song begins.

The need to talk at the start is quite legitimate if there’s no chairperson to open the service. Then I think the worship leader should fulfill this role.

But in most churches I’ve visited, they do have a chairperson.

I think chairpeople should be trained to engage people. They are an integral element of continuity throughout the service, all the way through to introducing the preacher and sometimes ending with the benediction. If the chairperson hasn’t yet focussed the congregation, they should keep at it.

Then, there’s really no need for the worship leader to say anything.

There’s a principle of economy that also needs to be observed: most church services have time constraints and there’s no need for two people to double up on the same job. If the worship leader has to spend another 3 minutes starting the service with an exhortation, then that’s 3 minutes less for the congregation to participate in worship.

The Need to Teach About Worship

Sometimes, I’ve felt the need to talk during the worship time to explain the significance of a certain action the congregation is participating in.

This is important. If a member of the congregation is just doing something out of rote, we have to ask whether they really are engaging their hearts, minds and emotions in worship.

When I grew up in the church, I remember that as a young kid, I never really understood why the church did the things they did. I didn’t understand what those archaic words like “exalt” and “extol” really meant. When the worship leader started singing in tongues, I thought that God had gifted him with the Hebrew language.

I find it strange and incongruent that whilst churches expect their congregation to actively participate in, and take personal responsibility for, worship, little time is actually spent in teaching the congregation how to worship and the significance of its various expressions.

So imagine yourself as a new Christian suddenly dropped into a worship service. You look around and you see people clapping. Well, you say, I guess that adds to the atmosphere. So you clap along. But did you know that clapping is a sign of unity? Or that it is a means of engaging in spiritual warfare?

What about the lifting of hands? It looks cool. Anyway, they do that at the Bon Jovi concert, so why not? But what if you knew that the lifting of your hands symbolised surrender, as if it were the evening sacrifice?

In my opinion, churches don’t spend enough time teaching on worship, even though it is a very large part (even if only by reference to the amount of time spent doing it on a Sunday) of the life of the congregation.

Because of this, I’ve devoted a good deal of my ministry to teaching on worship. I admire worship practitioners who are also teachers of the Word, like Jack Hayford, Lamar Boschman, Kent Henry and Matt Redman.

Churches should spend more time teaching worship, and maybe that will save worship leaders from the need to spend too much time talking during the worship session!

Remove the Distractions

At the end of the day, even though there might be good reasons for the worship leader to talk a lot, what tilts the balance for me against talking too much is that the goal of a worship leader should be to minimise distractions and to simply let the people worship. And if that means the worship leader gets out of the way, so be it!

In summary:

// build rapport at the grassroots level

// have a strong chairperson overseeing the service and exhorting the congregation

// encourage a culture of teaching worship at your church, or better still, facilitate the training yourself in other forums outside of your worship session.

I hope this encourages worship leaders to make the best use of the 25 or so minutes they have on a Sunday so that as much as possible, the congregation can participate in expressing their worship to God, rather than watching one person keep talking before another guy (the preacher) gets up to talk some more!