Sunday, October 03, 2004

Worship Leaders Shouldn't Talk

So I was speaking at the pretty cool youth event recently, and during the evening session, the 'worship leader' (as they like to be called), said something like this between songs:

"Isn't it just great to be here...in the presence of the Lord...to be silent before him...yeah, it's really great...cuz, you know, he's always there for us...like, have you ever felt really ticked at God?...Yeah, you know, that's okay for you to feel that way, because God can handle it...he's okay with us being ticked at him, you know...but I'm not saying that God changes, cuz he doesn't, cuz he created the universe, you know, so he doesn't change."

I am not bullshitting, that's pretty much what was said.

Can we install electric buzzers in the little headsets that worship leaders wear so that whenever they say something theologically stoopid we can shock them?

Oh yeah, and if one more 'worship leader' tells me that I have to stand up, I may go postal.

47 Comments:

Blogger Sivin Kit said...

I can really relate to this ...(I mean hearing "not-thought-through" or "parroting-what-they-heard" comments between songs) and I hope to tweak some of these "worship leaders" in a training I'm doing tonight and next tuesday. Thanks for the example ... hope it's ok to use it for "non-monetary-profit" only (for-theological-profit is a must I think)

7:04 PM  
Blogger Zach said...

so i totally get this. i have witnesed it many times and don't discount your efforts. but what really sucks, is when you wish the worship pastor was the one who actually preached the sermon. i know a worship pastor who often says things that really speak to me, much more than the normal pastor who often gives the actual message.

i guess your only consolation is if the worship pastor is "kicking the knowledge" to the congregation, at least it's only a limited amount of time........

7:05 PM  
Blogger dave p said...

I'd also like to just, thank you Lord for just, well, just outlawing, just, the word "just" from extemporaneous prayer.

I don't think that's what anyone meant by saying we have a "just" God.

8:07 PM  
Blogger Null said...

I thankfully don't have to face that problem. Our worship leader is incredible. He's also a pastor of our church, and speak the most profound loving things during worship.

9:43 AM  
Blogger the holly said...

amen...that used to be me...and people wonder why i don't "lead worship" anymore (in that way...i'm figuring out the liturgical end of worship in deeper ways).

peace,
the holly

10:14 AM  
Blogger Chequelin said...

Well said dude.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Ronnie Whitehead said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:10 PM  
Blogger Ronnie Whitehead said...

As a "Worship Pastor" (which is the title given to me, not chosen) my job is to not only "lead the singin'" but to teach our people about worship.

I'm sorry that you have the prevailing opinion that the "preacher" is the only one who has a lock on God speaking to you and through you. And .. if your song leader (more appealing term) uses the same language as you do, I would think that he SHOULD keep his mouth shut.

But then, that's just me.

(sorry about the previous delete. I had too many typos)

1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey theology guy, we know you write books and stuff. But if you think profanity and obsenities are ok, I think you might be off track.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Chris Enstad said...

Anonymous postings are worse then saying bullshit in my humble opinion.

thanks for your honesty about this trend Tony. As you know I have a few hot buttons and this kind of stuff is one of them. That and the use of the word "just" in prayer as well as using "Lord" as a comma or place-holder while the prayer struggles to construct a complete sentence. Lord, I just, Lord, want to, Lord, give you thanks, Lord, and praise... I think that's using the Lord's name in vain... I teach our leaders to model prayer by using silence when they are unsure what to say next. Ok, good to see you blogging, peace out.

5:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:44 AM  
Blogger tony said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:58 AM  
Blogger tony said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:26 PM  
Blogger Phil Hull said...

Was the worship leader Chris Tomlin? He says lots of silly stuff when he leads worship. (I would ask if it was David Crowder, but I don't want to be stoned by the rest of the emergent community.)

4:33 PM  
Blogger tony said...

Dude, that's hilarious! The fact is, we haven't stoned anyone in YEARS!

4:36 PM  
Blogger Phil Hull said...

Well if I'm not going to get stoned, I've got a lot of crap I've been waiting to say. Tonight is my independence night!

4:46 PM  
Blogger Pick's Blog said...

Great discussion about the whole worship thing. There's a lot that is done in a follow the leader kind of way that needs to be questioned. To quote Billy Foote Jr.: "Do we love worship or do we just dig cool music?"

But speaking as a Senior Pastor in a church reaching unchurched young adults, I have no need to use foul language to make a point. It's tempting, but so are a lot of other things. Go ahead and rip my opinion guys, but try using all that "emerging" creativity and find some better words.

8:32 PM  
Blogger Chris Enstad said...

The thing I like best about the Bible is how unoffensive it is

8:53 PM  
Blogger dave p said...

Well, the fact is this is only (OK, primarily) an issue in the Evangelical church. It's the only (OK, primary) example of a liturgical setup that places a band on a platform out front and that has the "worship leader" (aka lead singer) gab on and on in between songs. Some are reasonably good extemporaneous speakers (not that that means they should distract the heck out of people with their yakking) but most vary from barely adequate to massive inarticulate distractions.

Can we finally admit that singing can be worship but worship is by no means limited to singing?

The Evangelical church is also the primary place where people worry about whether they're doing it "right". Should we be standing, kneeling, on our head, prostrate on the floor, doing cartwheels in the aisles? Amazingly enough you can find vehement and sincere proponents of all of these postures.

As long as it keeps on happening, people should point it out.

9:18 PM  
Blogger Ronnie Whitehead said...

I'm sorry that you folks are so bitter about evangelical churches. But that being said .. I think that the entire service should be a ebb and flow between us, as people, and God. That's all I'm saying. How we do that will be determined on each churches objective and (yes, I'll use the "T" word) Target.

True, I have deep roots in evangelical churches, and some of those experiences were good and some were bad, but God is changing me and how I view and how I do church. Just because we don't all "do church" the same way, doesn't mean one is better than the other if we are each fulfilling the great commission of Jesus in Acts 1.

8:39 AM  
Blogger Ronnie Whitehead said...

Sorry, the command of Jesus is in Matthew 28. I was reading something else when I was typing this.

8:41 AM  
Blogger Shok said...

"Can we install electric buzzers in the little headsets that worship leaders wear so that whenever they say something theologically stoopid we can shock them?"

now that would cause me to not only return to the circus. errr dog and pony show so commonly called "church" on sunday mornings but i would also become a prominent giver to such a worthy cause as long as we included this shoking device option on everyone gracing the stage ... just tell me when and where ... great stuff

... and i ain't bullshittin about this ;)

12:03 PM  
Blogger Chris Enstad said...

tony,
What is your take on the new language being used around worship? In just these past few comments I have read these words "worship leader" "stage" "band", etc. etc. Also the trend towards words like "worship center" rather than Sanctuary and also the tendency of churches to remove the cross from the sanctuary.

As for the worship leaders who say stoopid things I would agree with Ronnie that some good stuff happens and some bad, possibly the worship leader is hired more for their musical ability than their theological depth and if that is the case they should perhaps keep their mouths shut. All too often the worship leader has learned all of their theology from the songs they sing... which, perhaps, is a statement about the quality of the theology in contemporary Christian music.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Ronnie Whitehead said...

I think Chris has a point. The person you hire needs to be more than just an accomplished musician. I think the heart is the place to start. I feel fairly confident in my musical skills, but I see myself as a call man of God more than I do a musician. I think it's paramount that I be able to hear God not only in the selection of music, but in the presentation of the same.

Terminology comes and goes, and I don't think that whether you use contemporary terms or historical terms matters so much in determining how godly the terms are. I believe its in the heart and the presentation.

I'd like to think that we're all on the same team, trying to accomplish the same goal, that being in presenting Jesus to a hopeless world in such a way that He initiates life-change. Is everything we do perfect? No, of course not. But we are definitely seeing long term life change in the people who God is bringing our way and that we are seeking out.

9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For your info, not everybody in this galaxy has a blogger acct to sign into, so our option is to leave a comment as anonymous. So there you go blogger folks. If you know my name is Jason and you can see me and fire critical comments off to me at jason@clcf.ca if you would like. and I still think it's wrong that somebody who is suppose to be leading young people and youth leadership has such a foul mouth. It makes me think (maybe pre-maturely) that the fruit is not so good. Out of your heart, your mouth speaks. And Chris if your value system thinks profanity is on the smae level as leaving an anonymous post then you have a distorted value system. The world does not revolve around the internet. And on the topic of worship leading, not everyone is perfect. Do not despise the day of small beginings. We all start out somewhere far from perfect and it is by God's grace we grow. We don't usually grow by such harsh critisism. Why not take a moment to share with them in an encouraging way rather that piling on via the internet. Just a thought, to enhance the conversation.

2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For your info, not everybody in this galaxy has a blogger acct to sign into, so our option is to leave a comment as anonymous. So there you go blogger folks. If you know my name is Jason and you can see me and fire critical comments off to me at jason@clcf.ca if you would like. and I still think it's wrong that somebody who is suppose to be leading young people and youth leadership has such a foul mouth. It makes me think (maybe pre-maturely) that the fruit is not so good. Out of your heart, your mouth speaks. And Chris if your value system thinks profanity is on the smae level as leaving an anonymous post then you have a distorted value system. The world does not revolve around the internet. And on the topic of worship leading, not everyone is perfect. Do not despise the day of small beginings. We all start out somewhere far from perfect and it is by God's grace we grow. We don't usually grow by such harsh critisism. Why not take a moment to share with them in an encouraging way rather that piling on via the internet. Just a thought, to enhance the conversation.

3:11 PM  
Blogger Chris Enstad said...

My value system: all of us have sinned and fallen short. We're all in it together, if issues of a swear word here and present that big of a stumbling block because it causes you to fall into judgement of other people then that's your problem, not Tony's.

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chis,

You may be right BUT- As a fellow youth pastor who happened to click on this blog, I am dissapointed to find this kind of negative (albeit very funny & true) derrogative post. What is the point of using that kind of tone and language? Language aside he can make the same point in a manner that is much more edifying- Perhaps ask: How much should worship leaders interfere with God's spirit? OR how much should we speak while leading worship? We all fallen & none of us are perfect, but that is not really the point.

Tony, FWIW, your comments come off more as a careless rant than a postive conversation starter, if that's what you're trying to inspire. I don't have a blogger account either. My name is Matthew Smith and I am a youth pastor in California.

-Matt

7:37 PM  
Blogger Pick's Blog said...

Chris, that's some spin on "stumbling". Try reading Romans 14:13 forward and see where the Bible puts the responsibility. And check this out from Ephesians 4:29 (NIV) Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

We really must be careful with all our words, whether they be foul or just critical.

10:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi this is jason again, mr. anonymous. I guess as a youth pastor as well. I am always looking for inspiration and actually really enjoyed tony's part in the emergant stories book. (not sure of the exact name) It makes me constantly evaluate whether I am pastoring youth or becoming an event coordinator. I guess I am a little disappointed in his choice of actually typing profanity into his computer. I don't want to be judgemental! My goal lately is to try harder not to be cynical or a know it all! But we can not live by the standards of this world. But holy God's holy standards. Cos. 2:8 says we don't live by the standards of man but of Jesus. We have died and now live live with Christ and should only appear when he does. So to Chris, and Tony, Peace to you. May our ministries prosper and help Jesus redeem this world.

9:45 PM  
Blogger Jordan Bateman said...

I have a Blogger account, so this won't be anonymous. In a lot of these commenters' eyes, I guess that makes my dialogue/conversation more valuable. What a joke.

Anyway, I don't think there's anything wrong with calling the emrging church movement to a higher place. Swearing is generally unnecessary (although I'd use it to shake something up if I had to).

Why do we emergents make things more difficult for the institutional churches? Is swearing (or drinking or smoking or whatever) some sort of badge of honour that we can use to say we're better than an IC pastor? Are we not called to make disciples of all nations--including the IC? Can we not let something as ultimately pointless as swearing fall byt the wayside for the sake of our brothers and sisters who are already scared to death of the emerging church and what it stands for? IS swearing so vital to our DNA?

Of course not! It's such a minor issue that we shouldn't even be bothered talking about it. Submit one to another, Scripture counsels. If Jason is uncomfortable with cussing, then I, as his Christian brother, will try not to swear in conversation with him.

Let's save the holier-than-thou fights and attitudes for matters of importance, not sloppy language. Let's use grace, mutual submission, kindness, and encouragement in our langauge, especially when we're trying to redefine 'church.'

11:07 AM  
Blogger Jason_73 said...

jordan,
I didn't know you were an "emergent" I almost feel betrayed. Does Jamal Lewis know about this? or anyone else at the well?

and to all my new firends, I now have a blogger acct, and have thrown off the shackels of anonymous. Although, the Holy Spirit has been anonymous in a sense, so is it really that bad?

3:21 PM  
Blogger Jordan Bateman said...

It's true, Jason. We're not there yet, but we're trying. I can prove it: we lost half our congregation (the giving half, sadly) as we made some radical changes. It's cost us almost everything, but it's worth it...

8:29 PM  
Blogger Chris Enstad said...

emergent = contemporary?

When I hear folks say things like "we lost half the congregation because of radical changes"... I wonder why the changes were made and why it was determined it was worth the cost?

I fear that the emergent phenomena is going the way of the contemporary worship wars, i.e. young people take over the church, chase away the old people, decide to do things "their" way, realize that none of them make any money, realize that multi-generational worship experiences are more of the church than niche marketing using key words and the philosophy of the moment.

Acts 2: ALL were together and held everything in common... could that be construed as worship styles?

9:05 AM  
Blogger Chris Enstad said...

If we're going to start "versing" each other it should be fun. If Tony had said, "it's like the stuff that comes from a bull's ass" would that have been better? I think that calling something what it is, bullshit in this case, definetly caught people's attention and sparked a edifying discussion on worship leaders who think they are preachers. What would have counted as vile talk to Paul in reference to the issues the church in Ephesus was facing? Perhaps it was more about talk about splitting apart from one another, no?

1:44 PM  
Blogger Jordan Bateman said...

I find your suggestion, without knowing any of the facts of our church's journey or experience, to be a bit trite, but whatever. One of the great weaknesses of the Christian world today is that telling our own story/perspective seems to be more important than hearing someone else's.

As for your points, I'll just say that we as a church have been walking out this journey for seven years, in complete obscurity. We like it that way. We've made mistakes and had incredible successes. We believe in multigenerationalism and we are focused on becoming transformed, relational, missional, and grace-filled. It was worth the cost because we believe that God is calling us to do it. We try to use terms to describe this thing and we find them clunky and ill-fitting--but we know God is leading us somewhere and that those who have travelled with us on this path have matured in Him. So we press on.

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As somebody who leads worship sometimes I...er...just want to...er...really say that, you know, there's a real...er...need to be...er...just real about this, and...er...be open and just...er...spontaneous.

So...er...there.

Howard

2:45 AM  
Blogger Jason_73 said...

you know chris,

If we could figure out just 1% of what there cultural standards were, we could solve thousands of problems. I think it makes sense that Jesus said, even if you call your brother a fool you are in danger of the fires of hell. For you to say that we're "out-versing" each other seems like an easy cop-out. So where do we draw the line with your reasoning. What sin is acceptable to "stir-up" the conversation? You know the nad-words almost seem less important to me now in relation to this seeming justification for everything.
James warns that the tongue is like wild fire, or a rudder on a ship, should we be quick to ignore that? Just curious, where do you draw the line?

4:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Methinks some of you better wipe your noses, since you're so far up this guy's ass that ou can't smell shit when you see it.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Jordan Bateman said...

Now THAT'S cussing!

2:30 PM  
Blogger Ronnie Whitehead said...

I can just see guys out there cutting and pasting that for their own message notes. Boy, what I'd give to hear THAT sermon.

My point is ... there actually are people out there who lead worship, sing songs, tell pages, wave their arm, etc. who actually 'do' hear God and who are articulate. There are times when we are doing our job or ministry or whatever term is acceptable, that God speaks, and like Peter, we can't help but speak and to not do so would be wrong. I've heard guys who couldn't speak their way out of a paper bag. Yes, those guys don't need to be saying anything. But don't be arrogant enough to think that in your little circle of experience that you've 'seen them all'.

I'm a man of God, called by Him; ordained by the same, and by the local church.

Matthew 7:1-6
1 "Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 "Or how can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. 6 "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

5:58 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

I'm laughing inside b/c I've seen way too many "worship leaders" do this very thing. I agree, there are those who are very articulate while they lead, which is appreciated. Being a "worship leader" myself, it is extremely important that worship leaders have a good framework theologically as they lead in music. So many songs (and I know there are some that are not) are theologically rich that sometimes they need to be explained well (esp. the hymns of old).

As far as the "bull" comment..it's sad to see how much discussion rages from one word. I don't think it would've been my first choice (even though it might be the most accurate), there are other words that could convey the same meaning, the point is still the same.

And I was waiting for the Matthew 7 passage to come out in the swearing discussion. It cracks me up that people are heaping judgment when they use the passage (which kind of defeats the purpose, right?) :) Well, anyhow, appreciate the insight Tony.

12:41 PM  
Blogger Ronnie Whitehead said...

The use of the Matthew 7 passage was not intended as a judgmental statement. It was intended in the same manner in which I believe Christ use it. We must be careful how we point fingers at people when we, ourselves, have things to deal with.

Was Jesus being judgmental? Some would say 'yes'. I realized a long time ago that I don't have all my ducks in a row. And being an 'outsider' in this little group, I was merely making my opinions known. I see us all, pretty much, in the same boat on this judgmental thing. Excuse me while I go clean out my eye.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Stephen Parker said...

Guys you seem a bit hostile to me,opinion is just that, John 12:24-25"Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone, but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit"
I would encourage you to fall into the fertile ground of Christ and die to your "stinking egos", then you will spring forth in the "Much fruit of Christ". There is nothing in all the world like this high calling of Christ, reaching people for Christ. I've been privileged to lead 100's to Christ in 22 years of ministry, but I would never have made it had I not reached the end of myself and died that I might be ressurrected into the abundance of Christ. Git-it-done guys and gals, we need you!!

11:03 AM  
Blogger Gangai said...

Some of you speak a lot of sense, but so many of you seem totally lost in a sea of terminology [alternate, emerging, contemporary blah blah blah] :)

If the Worship Leader goofs up, then a senior or elder has to help train him/her to become better....before putting him/her on stage again.

But for the unnecessary foul language, it is a thoughtful post actually! Many Worship Leaders do speak needless stuff before and after every other song....again, what they need is proper guidance and training, not foul languge-filled sarcastic comments/opinions!

Blessings!

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Clint Brandt said...

From these conversations its easy to tell why the church is powerless right now. Ghandi said "if not for christians I would be one". If we were just as burdened over the millions of children experiencing sexual and physical torture or the single moms who cant afford to turn on heat in the winter, as we are about bickering over the term worship leader, then WOW, we actually might make our God pleased with us. Quit throwing rocks from a glass house everybody cause I promise you that your use of curse words doesnt even come close to how Ive expressed my anger about the church in the past, but thank God for showing me that I need to get over myself!

10:32 AM  

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