Episode #2: MYTH-Worship Leaders are NOT Teachers

Episode 2 Transcript

Are not worship leaders teachers? Do they not keep the attention of people and show, tell and act out in a way that instructs people in their faith and life?

Worship Leaders provide curriculum to spiritual pupils to assimilate and incorporate into their very lives through the music and content we select in the setting we facilitate.

This is important to think about, I believe, because if we view what we do as simply an experience that stays in the room, we are fooling ourselves. The consequence is that phrases of lyric, hints of attitude and visual messages will be carried with the congregation member as he or she leaves for the entire week. For better or worse, we are teachers.

When planning a worship set, we do think of the content. For example, we could ask these questions:

  • Does this song pray a prayer we need to pray?
  • Does this element of worship relate to where we need to take our people?
  • We should celebrate. (Or fill in the blank with the action).
  • The theme of God’s grace (or fill in the blank) is highlighted in this tune.

There then is curriculum. We are putting together a lesson plan. After we do that, do we not also think of the setting and execution so it sticks with people? Here are some questions we might ask to clarify how we execute our teaching:

  • Is this song singable and does it enhance or distract?
  • What message does our graphic send?
  • What use of color, texture will compliment the content?
  • What story authentically will be expressed to connect with our people?

Now, there is the structured and planned part of teaching. However, all the world is a stage. Or in this case, all the world is a classroom. Our lives speak volumes. The attitude, and way we carry ourselves instructs on the attitude we have about our faith. People do not mimic us like robots, of course. But, passively the messages we send from a stage or in person all influence as well as instruct on our spiritual strengths or lack thereof.

So, are worship leaders actually teachers? I do think so. What do you think?

19 thoughts on “Episode #2: MYTH-Worship Leaders are NOT Teachers”

  1. Worship leaders must be theologians who understand that their position puts them in a unique place not only as one who leads in worship but connects the doctrine of the Word to the heart of the people. There is ever so clear in Col. 3:16:

    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 ESV)

    I think it was Augustine who first coined the term “Lex orandi, lex credendi” – Latin for “the law of prayer is the law of belief.” In other words, what connects with the heart as a great impact on our thinking and beliefs. I remember reading a conversation between a couple of ministers where one suggested “you write a systematic theology and I’ll write a hymnbook, and we’ll see who has the more lasting impact on the church.” Heart stuff stays with us. We don’t wake up humming lines from sermons.

    So, worship leader, the question is how much doctrinal breadth your repertoire contains? If the Bibles were confiscated and you only had songs to rely on, could you provide a well rounded education on the character and works of God?

    1. Hi Jeff,

      Nice points. I love the passage in Colossians in regards to this very topic. Here is something I would counter a bit…

      “So, worship leader, the question is how much doctrinal breadth your repertoire contains?”

      I would rephrase this to be: “how much of God’s word do you ‘incarnate’?” That verse quoted indicates an indwelling–an incarnation–that then leads to our songs and hymns.

      I am not sure the purpose of “songs” is to practically facilitate all the teaching and create a breadth of theology rather than to facilitate an outward response to internal faith. In concert with the whole liturgical setting, we should have that context already given.

  2. i definitely think worship leaders are teachers. but we’re a different kind of teacher. we teach truths, yes. Doctrine, definitely. But we are preparers. We prepare people’s hearts to hear from God. [not that pastors are God, but you know what i mean] In the Old Testament, the musicians went before the ark of the Lord. In the story of Nehamiah, they musicians went before the falling of the walls. Music prepares peoples hearts because it engages emotion. Sermons definitely have the capability to do this too, but music has a better track record. Therefore, when people’s emotions are engaged it means their hearts are engaged as well. This doesn’t mean that our people should be CRYING at the alter to have a “win” worship set. It just means that something is stirring inside of them. Big or little.

    And if we are the ones aiding in that stirring, then we better know full well what we’re tampering with. We are teachers. Our job is a little different but we should know the Bible well.

    🙂

    1. What you allude to, Julianna, is this “stirring” which I equate to “receiving” while we are giving. The liturgical churches literally believe we receive Jesus in the Eucharist–an reenactment of sorts of the cross. We eat and drink Jesus as a way to share in his suffering and death and resurrection. So, worship leaders in services can teach people to “practice” identification with Jesus through our music, message and prayers. We are stirred when this happens. I am not sure if this “stirring” is not more of hearing from God than a sermon–I suspect it could be. But, in this conversations context, the teaching should stir us as well, right? Doctrine is dead without action. So, worship/liturgy as an action is doctrine in action.

      1. awesome feedback, and i agree completly, we do have pulpit and microphones and there are some more gifted then other and are called to a higher degree as teachers.

        the point i was trying to make is that we as christians need to take our profession of Christ past the sunday morning wendsday night and into our daily living. teachers are not just teachers when there is a audience to listen. We as worship leaders teach through music but if that is the extent of ministry i believe we have missed the point. When Pual encuraged the colossian’s to admonish one another with psalm, hymns and spiitual songs this was to take place not just coperatlly but communially also. Our leading role does not end whe the last note is played and we don’t carry our instruments around all day playing worship songs for the body (although i would love that job) so we must take up this calling as worship leaders a step farther then the pulpit and into the lives of body.
        Luke MacNeil
        Just a voice

        1. Yes, which is why I said this, eh…

          “Now, there is the structured and planned part of teaching. However, all the world is a stage. Or in this case, all the world is a classroom. Our lives speak volumes. “

    1. Luke, thanks for the comment.

      Is it not true, however, that the “position” of teacher is on our neck as a worship leader? Really, all do teach, but not all are equally gifted, accountable or in position to influence like we as worship leaders do. Right?

      So, it means that yes, the position of the platform has a particular place that should get us to think about how we craft and prepare what we do up there. There is a basic component of all of us calling people to follow Jesus. However, we shape the practice of faith. For that, it requires a broader and more judicious responsibility.

      This is NOT about titles, but about function and role. Titles do matter in this case, Luke. So, teacher is a title you and I as a worship leader need to carry with weight and humility that not all have to the same degree when we grace a platform that influences many people.

      1. awesome feedback, and i agree completly, we do have pulpit and microphones and there are some more gifted then other and are called to a higher degree as teachers.

        the point i was trying to make is that we as christians need to take our profession of Christ past the sunday morning wendsday night and into our daily living. teachers are not just teachers when there is a audience to listen. We as worship leaders teach through music but if that is the extent of ministry i believe we have missed the point. When Pual encuraged the colossian’s to admonish one another with psalm, hymns and spiitual songs this was to take place not just coperatlly but communially also. Our leading role does not end whe the last note is played and we don’t carry our instruments around all day playing worship songs for the body (although i would love that job) so we must take up this calling as worship leaders a step farther then the pulpit and into the lives of body.
        Luke MacNeil
        Just a voice

        1. Yes, which is why I said this, eh…

          “Now, there is the structured and planned part of teaching. However, all the world is a stage. Or in this case, all the world is a classroom. Our lives speak volumes. “

  3. Hello thanks for the opportunity. So are Worship leaders teachers. first let me say that Worship leaders SHOULD be teachers i stress this should because all those who profess that Jesus Christ is Lord are teacher. We can look at the great commission of our Lord.

    Matthew 28:19-20
    ” Therefore go and make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands i have given you”

    So yes a worship leader is a teacher, but not because of his position upon a stage, or his God given ability to write doctrine into music. He is a teacher because he is a disciple. Are not the older men(women) to teach the younger, and do the parents have the responsibility to teach their children the way of the Lord.

    Lets step back from our titles a minute, we are all brothers and sisters teaching, admonishing, and encouraging one another on a daily basis. We don’t need a pulpit or microphone we have the very spirit of God has given all things according to his riches in mercy. Yes a song from a worship leader teaches us, but a act of love an charity will do the same and be the same gift of worship to our King. And both are necessary for the growth of the body of Christ.

    Luke Macneil
    Just a Voice

  4. Hello thanks for the opportunity. So are Worship leaders teachers. first let me say that Worship leaders SHOULD be teachers i stress this should because all those who profess that Jesus Christ is Lord are teacher. We can look at the great commission of our Lord.

    Matthew 28:19-20
    ” Therefore go and make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands i have given you”

    So yes a worship leader is a teacher, but not because of his position upon a stage, or his God given ability to write doctrine into music. He is a teacher because he is a disciple. Are not the older men(women) to teach the younger, and do the parents have the responsibility to teach their children the way of the Lord.

    Lets step back from our titles a minute, we are all brothers and sisters teaching, admonishing, and encouraging one another on a daily basis. We don’t need a pulpit or microphone we have the very spirit of God has given all things according to his riches in mercy. Yes a song from a worship leader teaches us, but a act of love an charity will do the same and be the same gift of worship to our King. And both are necessary for the growth of the body of Christ.

    Luke Macneil
    Just a Voice

    1. Luke, thanks for the comment.

      Is it not true, however, that the “position” of teacher is on our neck as a worship leader? Really, all do teach, but not all are equally gifted, accountable or in position to influence like we as worship leaders do. Right?

      So, it means that yes, the position of the platform has a particular place that should get us to think about how we craft and prepare what we do up there. There is a basic component of all of us calling people to follow Jesus. However, we shape the practice of faith. For that, it requires a broader and more judicious responsibility.

      This is NOT about titles, but about function and role. Titles do matter in this case, Luke. So, teacher is a title you and I as a worship leader need to carry with weight and humility that not all have to the same degree when we grace a platform that influences many people.

      1. awesome feedback, and i agree completly, we do have pulpit and microphones and there are some more gifted then other and are called to a higher degree as teachers.

        the point i was trying to make is that we as christians need to take our profession of Christ past the sunday morning wendsday night and into our daily living. teachers are not just teachers when there is a audience to listen. We as worship leaders teach through music but if that is the extent of ministry i believe we have missed the point. When Pual encuraged the colossian’s to admonish one another with psalm, hymns and spiitual songs this was to take place not just coperatlly but communially also. Our leading role does not end whe the last note is played and we don’t carry our instruments around all day playing worship songs for the body (although i would love that job) so we must take up this calling as worship leaders a step farther then the pulpit and into the lives of body.
        Luke MacNeil
        Just a voice

        1. Yes, which is why I said this, eh…

          “Now, there is the structured and planned part of teaching. However, all the world is a stage. Or in this case, all the world is a classroom. Our lives speak volumes. “

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