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Friday, May 30, 2008
The Worship Leader's Job Description. Part 1

How do worship leaders and designers conceive of their vocation? I get calls almost weekly from a minister somewhere looking for a "worship leader/ pastor." They are basically asking for a skilled musician who can develop and lead a band that can create worship experiences that usher people into the presence of God.

For the past several years I've enjoyed reading and thinking through a short essay on worship entitled, "Planning and Leading Worship as a Pastoral Task," by John Witvliet, the director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. He breaks down the most common way we think about these people as follows:

1. Craftspeople-- weaving together all the various elements to help a worship service come together.
2. Directors and Coordinators-- Recruiting musicians, running rehearsals, choosing media, and doing it for multiple services and multiple congregations week after week.
3. Performers--Sharpening and honing one's own set of gifts and skills in preparation to make the best possible offering to God.
4. Spiritual Engineers-- Constructing moments and movements and creating environments that help usher people into the Presence of God.

He then proffers this analysis,
"As worship leaders, we have the important and terrifying task of placing words of prayer on people's lips. It happens every time we choose a song and write a prayer. We also have the holy task of being stewards of god's Word. Our choices of Scripture and themes for worship represent a degree of control over people's spiritual diets, over how they feed on the bread of life. For holy tasks such as these, the church needs more than craftspeople, coordinators, and performers, and none with the hubris to be spiritual engineers. The church needs pastoral people to plan and lead its worship."
So what does the church need most in its worship leaders? What are the essential elements of the job description? Take a crack at it.

I'll offer my thoughts in the next post.
posted by John David Walt | at 5/30/2008 04:53:00 AM



Anonymous sara escamilla said...

I just read this. Thank you thank you thank you for this entry.

We certainly don't speak enough about the pastoral leadership involved in leading worship. We worship leaders seem to have this great "gig" where we show up, sing great songs, look pretty cool, hang out in the green room behind the stage and get kudos for our talent and "anointing." But the pastoral mantle goes SO much deeper than this. I can only think of a handful of worship leaders who feel the burden of shepherding their congregations.

In my estimation, the worship leader is the "middle man:" one hand pulling Heaven closer to earth, one hand pulling people closer to the God of Heaven. There's SO much that goes into that....

4:24 PM EDT  

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