The title of worship leader does not appear in Ephesians 4. There is no list of character traits as there are for Elders and Deacons. There is evidence of people leading worship in the bible, so what is important. We have now the role of "Worship Leader" or "Worship Pastor" in many churches. A role with authority and responsibility. What should be looking for in the people who lead us in worship? What is the most important trait?
My answer is humility. Here's why.
Who was the first worship leader? The Bible tells us that the Devil was a worship leader in heaven. The first? who knows. What we do know, is that he desired worship for himself and this caused him and a third of the host of heaven to be cast out.
I think this paints a target on the back of worship leaders. We need to be careful. We hear all the time "The worship was great today", "I really enjoyed the worship", "The band sounded great today" or "Wonderful song selection today". While most remarks are I'm sure well meaning and intended to thank us for our efforts and service in leading the congregation, it is very easy to get flattered by these things. Do I think that worship leaders are slowly be corrupted into desiring these flattering comments, no. But, I don't think the enemy is so obvious.
While I have nothing against wanting to sound the best that we can. It is crucial that we never put style over substance. Sounding great and giving our best on our instruments as an offering to God = good. Desiring to have the best worship band in town to attract more people to the church = not good.
On a similar note. Would your congregation worship if there was just 1 person and a guitar? Music is a powerful medium and can stir an emotional response. Do we need to be careful not to manipulate people with music. Those first couple of up temp numbers to "Get them in the mood" I'm sure I've done it.
Slightly off topic. I remember when I used to lead a youth worship band. Regularly in our rehearsals we would start praying then bring songs, we would end up far more up tempo than we started with as a response to the Spirit stirring us.
The Bible tells us that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Jesus, the greatest leader was the greatest servant. Remember that our enemy prowls like a lion seeking to kill and destroy. We are targets. We seek to help people glorify God and in his presence become more like him. We are big targets.
As humble servants of God's people let us lead the way into the presence of God by demonstration of worship "Leading in worship" not just Leading the Singing.
Please comment and add to this discussion.
I'll open my response by noting that for 56 of my 68 years on the earth, I have been a worship leader of some sort, and for over 45 of them I have been paid, ranging from a ten-dollar check to full-time service as a credentialed minister and pastor on staff -- so I'm "part of the system". Each of my positions have carried a good deal of responsibility, and part of my responsibility is to study the word intelligently. Like you, I have scrutinized the Scriptures and find only a little specifically about the sort of person we today call a "worship leader", but quite a bit about what sort of person a worship leader, or any leader in the church, should be. (The Bible tells us very little specific, even in the Old Testament law, which has just a few paragraphs centering on when to celebrate holidays and what to bring with you and how to sacrifice with a sense of dignity, without making a pagan bloody mess out of it. It doesn't even tell them to go to synagogue on Saturday - but people do these things, and find ways to do them "correctly", because people like to do that) And I, at least, enjoy the lack of regulations; being a human, I enjoy freedom, and Jesus enjoyed freedom -- He said it stemmed from truth.
I say all of this in support of your main thesis: the leader's main quality, the quality of Moses, is humility, the trait that is necessary, yet cannot be pinned down in a job description, shuns applause, is impossible to pay in normal coin. The lead guitarist who has humility truly wants the second guitarist to become as good or better as himself (do I, who love playing the piano and organ each week, really want a new person to come into the church who can do these things better than me?). Is this a warped or eccentric attitude? Not at all - and good examples are found not just in the church, but in many walks of life.
Yet quite often leaders are chosen because they have some obvious strength. The last few times, I asked the church if I could actually prepare the praise team and choir for a service. Still, the committee didn't come to the rehearsal - they only seemed to want to hear what we sounded like. They didn't get to experience what sort of leadership qualities we did, or didn't, have. That sort of thing is too vague for many people, so they go by "I really like that!" or "how long is this thing going to last, anyway?"
Personally, I find the requirements for elders and deacons to be generalities, a subset within the operational definition of a real worshiper (love God and neighbor as yourself), and the operational definition of a person living in Christ (Galatians 5:22, and contrasting to 5:19). These encompass so much of a person's life, they defy quantification.
All people make some sort of influence on other people, every time they interact. We lead them into godliness or folly through our example, and through conversation. We do not need a diploma, job description or brass nameplate to do this. Worship leader "positions" are no different from pastoral positions in this way (a person may be a pastor to another person simply by being a friend and mentor). Those are the realities. They may coincide with the Leadership Positions we create through our system of church buildings (something also not mentioned in the New Testament) if the leaders are good leaders -- but good leaders typically delegate responsibilities to those within their care, as Jesus delegated the Gospel-telling to us.
Curiously, I am now in a church which has a Music Director, not a "worship pastor", and I "lead the hymns and choruses" rather than "lead us to the Throne." But now, I am not so sure about all the rhetoric we apply to worship leading, making it almost a mystical thing. I am glad to be just plain me leading the songs, allowing God to mix His love into the songs and it becomes worship - and it's only a result of the worship which has been happening in the other six days as the people are finding out and sharing, simultaneously, the truth of this Concentrated Worship which we feast upon on Sunday.
Music manipulates people. It soothes them. It gives wings to worthy thoughts. It gets toes tapping that had forgotten joy. Music indoctrinates people. Indoctrination in good Scripture is a good thing. Who ever said it wasn't, except rebels? Music opens up clogged channels in the farascue, or whatever part of the brain is that enables a person to think clearly. When I'm not playing a keyboard, but just singing, like at a conference or retreat, half the time I'm writing thoughts that popped into my head, some urgencies from God, others just things activated in the environment of live Christian music being sung by believing people (or from things in the words that just pop out at me). The music has manipulated my Centers of Inhibition into letting my fears go a bit, and suddenly I can think freely. Good manipulation. Just stay away from the bad manipulation and you'll be fine.
Greg Moore said:
Curiously, I am now in a church which has a Music Director, not a "worship pastor"
Well, if we must be honest... so I looked up the word "farascue", which was a purely made-up word signifying some highly technical part of the brain - and found it to be an actual word, from a scholarly article about an Anglo-Saxon translation of the Bible. The Google quote ran "...if they retained Belial, why not Corbana and Farascue?" However, I would have had to read several hundred pages of a work possessed by (not merely oppressed by, but genuinely possessed by) Cornell University. So, I suppose it remains, for practical purposes, an honestly made-up word.
Greg Moore said:Curiously, I am now in a church which has a Music Director, not a "worship pastor"
I read this line and though "wow, that's honest".