This is not a letter to any particular song leader, or worship leader
but a general letter to all who serve or lead in worship.
Dear Song Leader,
First of all, I want to express my appreciation for what you bring to a worship assembly. It is difficult to sing in front of a group of people and to lead singing well is a noble thing (1 Tim. 3: 1). You have embraced the notion of being more than a song starter. You select songs purposefully, and not just on a whim. You deliberate and work hard at leading the people you worship with and I appreciate that.
The current struggle over worship styles have been called ‘Worship Wars’ and that is only a slight exaggeration. It used to be when I grew up, to make war in church you would have to pull out some pretty big issues to fight over (one cup or many cups for communion? Must people be rebaptized after they have abandoned their church families but later returning, Can a divorced man and woman who have been previously married to Christians be married to other Christians?) Now churches are splitting over whether or not we clap, raise hands, or sing with praise teams or not. I don’t know what this says about our generation or our times but I am strongly convicted of this:
Worship Leaders, we must take great, Great, GREAT care with the bride of Christ and NEVER take struggle or division lightly in our church.
The King of all creation, Lord of all, Jesus the Anointed One drowned in His own blood to purchase freedom for each sister and brother I have in Christ. How can we dare speak harshly or with cruel sarcasm about one our Lord loves.
God forgive my proud, cruel words when I bluster about my opinions on who is a fool. My own mouth convicts me. Paul slays my arrogant heart with these words:
Noel, who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
If I might continue to paraphrase, Paul continues…
One man considers one song style more sacred than another; another man considers every song style alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who worships without a praise team, does so to the Lord. He who claps, claps to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who does not, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
James won’t let me off the mat either,
“Noel, don’t speak evil against your, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?”
We must learn to be tender hearted with our churches and be very patient. Worship leading is not about preparing a group of people to sing songs that are more progressive, or conservative, or worst of all, more to our liking. May God forgive us when we use our position to advance our agenda. In leading others to lift up the name of Jesus we need to get as far out of the way as we possibly can.
You and I both know how important songs are. They are not just filler between the sermon, reading and prayer. Songs testify, they proclaim. Singing is when we preach to each other. It doesn’t matter when the songs were written. What matters is what are they preaching? We need to sing songs that preach one thing and one thing only. It can be found in Col 2: 13 – 15
And you, were dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our sins, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
Jesus is our avenging hero. We were ruined; as good as dead and…
God made us alive!
There is no active participation in this act by us. He didn’t make it possible for us to be saved. He DID it all. He canceled the debt, nailed it to a cross, crushed Satan and his demonic power and displayed his victory over them. Total annihilation
Our Lord Jesus opens a can… goes UFC … roundin’ and poundin’ and he gives us the belt.
That is a song our church needs to sing every Sunday. Find it. Find it in contemporary music, find it in a old hymn. Sing that song again and again brothers and sisters, only that song. Don’t settle for anything else.
One thought on “An Open Letter To My Song Leader”
Thank you for sharing these thoughts which now lead me to wonder whether they were already there as we spoke last night or if they emerged from that conversation. Nevertheless, I appreciate your heart and I look to you as you are looking to Christ as your example.
It’s fitting that I read this tonight as I was challenged today to find love for a “new” song that wasn’t quite resonating. As we discussed, I’m not a huge fan of the militant metaphors or the “old-school” language of O Church Arise, but today, when singing the song for what seemed like the hundreth week in a row, I found these gems:
“Come, see the cross where love and mercy meet,
As the Son of God is stricken;
Then see His foes lie crushed beneath His feet,
For the Conqueror has risen!
And as the stone is rolled away,
And Christ emerges from the grave,
This vict’ry march continues till the day
Ev’ry eye and heart shall see Him.”
True yesterday, true today, true forever. Jesus lives, so let’s sing about it!