Worship leaders wear many different hats: Musician, leader, counsellor, pastor, sound engineer, arranger and the list goes on. One role we often fail to see is that of teacher. We often assume that role solely belongs to the preaching pastor. Whereas the act of listening to a sermon may feel closest to the lecture-driven Western culture of teaching, don’t be fooled. Your worship leading is teaching people what to think about God.
Pastor and theologian A.W. Tozer famously once said “What you think about God is the most important thing about you”. Peter’s great confession in Matthew chapter 16 was in response to Christ’s question, “Who do you say I am?”
Much of the Bible’s teaching echoes the attributes and Character of God. God wants to be known and the songs we lead in ought to be more than pleasant melodies evoking emotion void of intellect. On the contrary, our songs ought to produce an emotional response to truth as a result of being comprehended by our intellect and affirmed in our spirit.
It just got real.
That’s a tall order for the charismatic, tall teenager in skinny jeans who just learned what a half-diminished chord is. Yet, this is part of the (sobering) call placed on those who desire to lead in God’s praises.
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. – James 3:1
So does every worship leader need a Bible degree to lead worship? No. But are worship leaders theologians and teachers still the same? Absolutely.
If what we sing is what we teach is what we think then we need to think about what we’re teaching and singing. Songs teach theology (theology by the way is just a fancy word for the study of God).
The last 25 years have ushered in a tremendous amount of new worship music. However, not every (popular) worship song teaches accurate truths of God. Now I am not suggesting we all become the worship police and get in every songwriters face about their lyrics. But what I am saying is that worship leaders need to know the Word of God well enough to discern what songs evoke a clear, accurate understanding of truth that promotes a rich indwelling of God’s Word in our hearts and minds.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” – Colossians 3:16
May God sober us to the calling we have as worship leading teachers, granting us the wisdom to discern what songs we use, knowing that what we sing is what we teach is what we think about God.