I was going to entitle this post “Final Thoughts,” but that’s probably not going to happen. One of the reasons I started this blog was to explore this role in an ongoing way. But this does mark the end of the series on the role of the corporate worship leader. Really.
If you’re a musician who is responsible to lead others in praising God, I pray you’ve been served by this series. I’m grateful for those of you who have taken the time to post an encouraging comment, expand upon my thoughts, or ask questions. We need to continually ask ourselves if what we’re doing is lining up with Scripture.
On most Wednesday mornings I have the joy of meeting with the 19 men who are currently in the Sovereign Grace Pastor’s College. These men have moved to Gaithersburg, Maryland to spend 9 intense months of study preparing for future or continued pastoral ministry. Each week, one of the guys is assigned to lead us in corporate worship for about 25 minutes. We then take 15-20 minutes to evaluate how their leadership was effective, and where it could have been better. It’s always a rich time.
Some of the students have no musical ability. One is actually tone deaf. And yet I have each one of them lead the class at some point during the year. Why do I do that?
When it comes to exalting God, musical skill is a valuable, but optional, component. Yes, God often commands us to sing His praises. Yes, the longest book in the Bible is a book of songs. Yes, singing is referred to over 400 times in Scripture. Yes, but…
We gather to magnify the glory of Christ, not the glory of our music. We can still tend to think of worship and music as synonymous. They’re not. Anyone who knows the Savior, loves God’s Word, and has some gift of leadership, can lead a congregation in thanking and praising God for His character and His deeds. They can recount God’s mercies, describe His great power, and pray for God’s name to be exalted in our lives. They can share testimonies of God’s faithfulness, lead us in confessing our sins, and remind us of the glorious Redeemer who endured the wrath of God in our place. All of that can be done with zero musical knowledge.
Music simply helps us remember and respond to who God is and what He has done. But the object of our affections is to be God Himself, not our songs. To extend a John Piper quote, people are starved for the greatness of God, not the greatness of our music. My prayer is that God would raise up many more leaders of congregational worship who understand the difference.