Last week, I read Brooks’ book “Worship Quest, An Exploration Of Worship Leadership.” Brooks does not have a Reformed background, yet, the points he raises seem familiar. For example, he identifies differences between “Event Worship” (Stepping Stones Camp, Men of Integrity Conference, Young Peoples events, VBS, etc.) and “Congregational Worship.” He also identifies relationships between Corporate Worship, Personal Worship, and Lifestyle Worship.
His last four chapters deal with Four Roles in Leading Worship, which made me recall a question someone asked me last year:
My initial reaction was: “Of course” – but I had not thought it through. Is “leading the service” the same as “leading in worship”? What does “leading the people’s hearts into worship” mean, and what does that look like?
A pastor announces what’s next, prays, asks for audience participation, and presents a sermon. Does the congregation go through the motions, or do they worship? Brooks’ book deals with worship leadership. He states that the worship leader fails if the congregation does not worship (although they are present in the service and interact as expected.)
If it is not going through the order of worship, what is worship to the congregation? Brooks’ description of corporate worship is:
“experiencing the fullness of being in God’s presence.”
Abraham Kuyper’s “Our Worship” echoes this definition:
“The goal of all worship services must be to let the assembled congregation taste that fellowship with their God.”
When a pastor leads the congregation in worship, he himself needs be worshiping. A pastor can only lead the congregation where he has been. H.B. Charles asks pastors a pointing question: “Have you been with Jesus?” (Acts 4:13). The congregation should sense that the person leading the worship has been with Jesus.
Canadian Reformed churches do not consider pianists and organists to be worship leaders, as far as I know. But they introduce the singing and lead the congregation with their accompaniment. The music in the church is part of the congregation tasting that fellowship with their God. Therefore, the pianists or organists themselves need to worship, before leading the congregation in song. And regardless of the skill level, the music should express that the musician “has been with Jesus.”