As I’ve traveled around the country visiting a bunch of Vineyard churches I’ve noticed a trend that has me a bit concerned. I’ve detected a slow pull towards entertainmentism. Worship has felt like a concert-like journey through a rousing set of songs more focused on an emotional response than on the awesomeness of God.
We’re getting noisy and distracted. I’m all for celebration but there’s been little, if any, silent space to simply be quiet before the Lord and listen to what he might have to say. And in many cases the worship and preaching didn’t seem to work together. The pastor and worship leader weren’t on the same page. The songs and the message didn’t relate at all. I wondered if the worship leader ever got the pastor’s memo about his sermon topic that week.
This reflects a lack of pastoring. There seems to be a basic misunderstanding or ignorance on the part of senior pastor’s concerning their role in shepherding worship in their church.
Pastor, who’s shaping the values and practice of your worship leaders? YouTube? It’s time to embrace your role as the lead worshiper in your congregation. You’re the spiritual leader therefore you’re the worship leader. You are the primary, principle worshiper in your church. You teach worship and model worship just by being who you are. You establish and maintain the standard of worship in your church community.
It’s commonly understood that you pastor are ultimately responsible for every ministry in your church. That includes worship and music. This doesn’t require you having special musical ability, only that you be an active, healthy worshipper; only that you understand worship; only that you have a love for worship and a compelling vision of worship for your church.
So don’t abdicate your responsibility to pastor the worship in your church. And don’t be reluctant to correct and shape your worship leaders just because you can’t sing or play an instrument. Don’t worry you just need to be a pastor. Let me suggest four helpful pastoral conversations over lunch you should be having with your worship people:
Start with, “How’s your soul?” Here’s where you can do your best work shaping the worship of your church. The spiritual health of your worship leaders is of utmost importance for obvious reasons.
Next I would suggest discussing, “Do you understand what the purpose of our public meetings is?” Worship people, like most artists, tend to get self-absorbed and hung-up on the details. Expand their imagination by helping them get the bigger picture of what worship can do to help the church accomplish its mission.
Follow-up with, “Do you understand how worship serves this purpose?” Here’s an opportunity to teach and fortify the Vineyard values and theology of worship as well as to discuss practical things like what’s working and how to improve what’s not.
Another great conversation is, “What’s the Spirit saying to our church lately and how can worship facilitate this?” Here’s an opportunity to pray, listen and share with each other as well as talk about things like song selection and other ways of cooperating with what the Father is doing in your congregation.
These conversations will not only unify your worship and preaching, they will help strengthen your relationship with your worship people, amplifying and making clear what God is saying to your church when it’s gathered.
So pastors, you’re ultimately responsible, don’t just hand that responsibility over to someone else. Pastor it.