G. Edwin Lint, BS, ThB, MA
Why do we even need a Ten Commandments for Worship Leaders? Here's why… "
There are thousands of tithe-paying worshippers in evangelical congregations across
the country whose taste and preferences in Christian music style are not being
represented or even given serious consideration. These under-represented worshippers
are the ones who ask merely for a music mix that includes an occasional song in
the Gospel style instead of a steady diet of praise and worship and contemporary
You shall remember the primary purpose for your being up in front of the congregation
during praise and worship.
As the worship leader, you are responsible to set the pace for the rest of the
team in assuring that everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
1 Cor. 14:40. Every team member should be a role model of how to participate enthusiastically
yet reverently in the worship experience.
You shall covenant
with your self and the others in your group to do everything from behind the cross
Everything you do, say, and wear should be designed to render yourselves invisible
with Christ and His cross plainly visible.
consult with the senior pastor regarding how he/she would like the worship block
to fit into the flow of the rest of the service.
Worship services will change from Sunday to Sunday as a result of various activities
and events such as: Communion, baby dedications, special presentations, and special
speakers. Make sure you know the senior pastor's thinking regarding how the worship
block is to fit into the total service. All thinking senior pastors will have
preferences; make sure you know what they are. Of course, I am assuming that no
thinking senior pastor would expect the worship to go for a fixed period of time,
regardless of what else is happening in the service.
Learn to back time: You may like to begin the worship block with a six-minute
slow and rather heavy worship chorus with several repeats and key changes culminating
in the congregation standing with hands raised. Let's say you have two morning
services. After the first service, the senior pastor may say the worship block
ran about six minutes long and crowded the special speaker's close with prayer
around the altar. He/she may ask you point blank to cut the worship block short
by six minutes.
If you don't get a direct order to shorten your block, volunteer to do so and
do it by cutting off the opening six minutes. The easiest way to shorten the worship
block may be to cut down on the multitudinous repetitions of the same worship
shall use a mix of music styles that approximates the preferences of the congregation.
If you are called a worship leader and you have a group assisting you called a
worship team, the chances are very strong that the style of music is very heavy
on the praise and worship side. Just a few minutes ago, I did an Advanced Google
search on the phrase "praise and worship" and here is the data from that search:
About 10,200,000 results (0.12 seconds
I did a second Advanced Google search on the phrase "southern Gospel music" and
here is the data from that search: About 6,560,000 results (0.17 seconds.
I did a third and final Advanced Google search on the phrase "contemporary Christian
music" and here is the data from that search: About 14,100,000 results (0.26 seconds
three Google searches only prove one thing: the Christian music audience is comprised
of persons with a range of musical preferences ranging from Gospel songs to Christian
rock. There is no right and wrong regarding styles of Christian music; just differences.
these differences can be very important to members of your congregation. Several
years ago, I had a conversation with a Minister of Music about 75 miles north
of the Mason-Dixon Line that went something like this [Paraphrased]:
"Why don't you use more Gospel music with the choir selections and special music?"
think Southern Gospel would go over too well in this area."
I said, "Gospel music has nothing to do with geography. Bill and Gloria Gaither
[the king and queen of Gospel music] are from Indiana."
When the Gaithers held one of their Homecoming concerts in a major nearby arena,
the response was so strong they had to add a second night to the program. Nancy
and I were a little lax in buying our tickets and our seats were up in the nosebleed
section, close to the rafters. The concert was done in the round with plenty of
large-screen monitors so we enjoyed it immensely in spite of the height. [This
was one of the last times Vestal Goodman sang in public before her death.]
In a separate conversation, I asked this same Minister of Music a similar question.
He said, "Any music that gives glory to God is Gospel music." This man chose to
ignore the fact that the Gaither Homecoming videos are selling like hotcakes across
the country, and that people drive for hours to attend one of the regional Gaither
In radio jargon, a music mix means a play list that consists of a variety of music
styles so your sound will appeal to the widest possible audience. A member of
a radio audience has a powerful tool at his/her fingertips. It's called a tuning
knob or a preset button. However, a worshipper sitting in the pews of your church
has no such luxury and is limited to one of the following options: "
Sing when told to sing, clap when told to clap, stand when told to stand, smile
when told to smile; be good sheep. "
Time their arrival at the house of worship to coincide with the end of the praise
and worship block. "
Find another church with a music mix that includes some Gospel music.
Here's a novel idea.
not conduct a church-wide survey of music tastes and preferences. Let the people
speak through a form. You may be amazed at the results.
If the people don't get a chance to vote with their pencil, they may vote with
their wallet or their feet!
shall not rehearse the worship block to the extent that spontaneity and flexibility
are lost because you are following a rehearsed worship routine.
This is a touchy one. Above, I say everything should be done decently and in order.
Now, I'm saying don't rehearse. You are thinking, how can the worship block can
be done decently and in order if we don't rehearse. In You
Can Be a Teacher, Too I talk about Lesson Plans. Teachers should always
do lesson plans but that is not to say they should rehearse. I'll copy this section
here for your convenience:
Prepare a lesson plan. The plan should be in outline format so it can be used
for quick reference during the lesson. During your preparation time, learn the
lesson so well that while you are teaching, a quick glance at your lesson plan
can trigger the next sequence of thoughts or events. Your lesson plan shouldn't
be a script that is read word for word. In fact, you already know you should seldom
read anything to students unless it has lasting literary value. Lesson plans seldom
All good teachers rehearse their lessons. Beginners may need to do this with an
audience (from within the family or friends). Or, teach to a tape recorder and
then play it back as you listen critically. As you get more experienced, you may
do your rehearsing mentally. When I know I am going to speak before a group, I
always do a mental rehearsal. Some of this activity involves actual mental word-for-word
dialogue between the group and me.
Let me extrapolate from the Lesson Plan segment above and apply it to the worship
Select the songs, their keys, and any key modulations [changing to another key,
usually higher.] "
Do a dry run by yourself to get an idea of the time to be consumed. Replicate
the tempo and repeats that will be used in live worship. "
Make sure the instrumentalists know the worship plan and are well prepared to
musically support the singing, smoothly and effortlessly.
shall not use unusual arrangements of well-know hymns with unusual chord progressions
and rhythm patterns.
Many churches with worship teams and leaders project the words to the songs onto
a screen. When such churches do mix in a number found in the hymnal, they sometimes
use a strange arrangement with unfamiliar chords and tempos. If your worshippers
are looking at the words only [no notes] and the chords are unfamiliar, you are
forcing them to sing in unison. One of the most beautiful segments
of evangelical worship is thereby lost: singing in harmony.
My wife, Nancy, is a lifelong alto. She has both read and harmonized alto as long
as she has been able to carry a tune. When a worship team presents her with a
familiar hymn, nothing but words, and unfamiliar chords, she is forced to give
up and drop out of active participation in the praise and worship block. The melody
[soprano] of most humans are out of her vocal range, there are no notes to read,
and she can't harmonize because the chords are unfamiliar. This is an especially
bitter pill because the occasional hymn is usually one of the few songs in the
praise and worship block that she recognizes.
shall not ask the congregation to remain standing for more than two successive
Prayerfully seek the mind of the Holy Spirit regarding why you are asking the
people to stand in the first place, and for how long. "
Out of reverence for God? "
To make it easier for them to sing? "
To make it easier for them to move into the aisles and dance in the spirit or
come forward for prayer? "
To measure the limits of their physical endurance? "
To demonstrate your authority over them?
shall not permit the amplified voices of the worship team nor the drums and brass
of the worship band to drown out the vocal participation of the congregation.
If you want the congregation to sing with you, don't overpower them with amplification
shall covenant to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in terms of the songs
that are sung and especially the number of times each song is repeated.
While I was in college, I learned that teachers should always stop a physical
activity while the students were still enjoying it.
are leading worship for an tabernacle camp-meeting type service, you shall not
lead the congregation in your standard fare of "praise and worship" songs and
choruses. This is especially true if a large segment of the congregation has been
getting the senior discount for several years.
Each summer, Nancy and I make our annual visit to the camp meeting where we met
back in 1952. After a year of praise and worship music, we look forward with great
anticipation to some of the old-time camp meeting music on which we were raised.
what? The worship leader had us stand to sing [you guessed it] praise and worship
sadly placed the Spirit-Filled Songs paperback hymnal
[©1956 John T. Benson] back down on the wooden bench.
Maybe next year.