How to make friends and influence congregations

It seems to me there are a few common traits to band leaders (or worship leaders) in the guitar-oriented part of the Western Chrsitian church.

Whether you like it or not, there are striking differences too.

The issue is best exemplified in a cheap joke:

Q. “How does a worship leader change a light bulb?” A. “He sticks his hand up and the world revolves around him.”

The simplest hand signal of peace and surrender – the open hand – is corrupted from a sign of goodwill and love from a person to their God. It becomes something to ridicule. Why does a guitarist stick her hand in the air? She certainly can’t actually bow down wearing her guitar, and she presumably feels the need to express physically the state of her heart. One hand must steady the guitar, and the other can be used to signal to God. Fine.

How about confidence? Some worship leaders lack confidence and mumble their way through even the singing bits of their leadership. We criticise those for lacking conviction and needing skills in leading people. Those who are full of confidence but don’t engage the congregation are proud; those who engage the people but lack musical skill are upstarts to those who love the music and organist-antidotes to those who don’t.

Why must we be so quick to judge the people leading the worship? Because they stand at the front of our church and we can’t read their minds.

I know of two worship leaders (one personally, one from a distance) who suffer with nerves and spend significant portions of their time wracked with self doubt. This cannot be what God intended for them as a permanent state of affairs. They are keen to disprove opinions about their own pride and self importance, but fail to see that these opinions are based only on what the accusers see, not what they understand.

When we look at a worship leader, balancing the fine line between singing the chorus again and bringing the song to a gentle close or trying to remember what the next chord is, or trying to engage with the congregation, bear in mind that God looks at their heart and knows their nature. After all, they’re in His house, serving His people. Our judgement of their outside appearance or behaviour need not be accurate.

By all means question my musical judgments when I lead, or tell me how you feel something could have been done better (or not at all), but please don’t judge motives with the same ease. After all, I’m in no position to guess yours.

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