Equality in the church (5).
Not sure whether this post really sits in the series I did during the Christmas Holiday but I thought it might be worth giving some consideration to worship leaders, and I suppose the question as with the other things I have looked at is ‘How equal are worship leaders’.
As with the other topics I can only speak from my own experience based in the case on what happens in our circuit because they were none existent way back in 1982/3.
We have a number of worship leaders in the circuit with five out of the ten churches having them according to the plan. As might be expected the spread of then is uneven with one church having one worship leader while another has 6 or 7. Their names and addresses are included in the circuit directory under the listing for each church but do not appear on the plan.
I am not sure how well used the worship leaders are other than as readers and I suspect that some local preachers are not comfortable using them as there may be a perception that there is a degree of risk involved, especially if you do not know the worship leaders very well.
On the other side of the coin one of our local preachers recently took a service at my own church and left the choosing of the hymns to the worship leaders. This proved to be a particularly good experience with the hymns fitting very well with the readings and the sermon and the preacher reported back to the preachers meeting how successful this had been.
I realise that sometimes people see worship leading as a way for people to dip their toe in the water on the road to being a local preacher but I am not sure that is fair. I think that some people are very talented in leading worship and very comfortable doing so but may not be so good at preaching or even feel that they have been called to do so. I think there is a danger that we can see the reverse of the desired effect happening with people being turned off preaching rather than turned on. It is I think equally possible that some people are excellent at preaching but not so good at leading worship. Perhaps there is room for developing worship leaders alongside preachers in perhaps a Sankey and Moody partnership where on handles the music and one handles the preaching. I am conscious that this is not allowed within standing orders (680-683) as worship leaders are supposed to be an individual church appointment rather than a circuit appointment, but perhaps there is some mileage in this and it could be considered. I think there has been some discussion previously in respect of making worship leaders a circuit appointment and it may be that further discussion could and should take place. Perhaps this is one for the new cluster at Church house that deals with these matters to take a look at.
I did ask if there would be a worship leader present at one of our churches in an evening to be told that they only went in the morning so an opportunity was missed to use them because they were not available.
From time to time I go to churches in other denominations to preach and often all I have to do is preach as the worship side of the service is led by someone at the church I go to. I never cease to be amazed at how well this works and often I will not have communicated the theme of my message prior to going and yet hymns, reading prayers will fit as well as if I had planned the whole thing myself.
I really do think that worship leaders can be a great asset both to our churches and to our local preachers and would certainly encourage preachers to use them. Of course it may be that the picture for my readers is very different and I would love to hear of experiences that may be different to mine and would certainly like to hear some positive experiences.