Many may argue against it (and do) but for me the rise of this ‘ministry’ is a very modern and ‘large church’ phenomenon. Interestingly, in Ed Stetzer’s book, he says that church plants should not consider opening their doors without having recruited a worship leader. Sorry to disagree Ed, but I just can’t see it as a necessity in the UK. I am not decrying the importance of a person(s) who can lead God’s people well in this area but intrinsic to the success of church planting enterprises! I just don’t know. Maybe in the USA but not here me old mucker.
We are at a stage now in Niddrie where we have several good musicians and some good singers who can help us lead what can only be described as some lukewarm singing. We have tried everything short of forcing people to be more worshipful at gunpoint! We tried introducing one good modern song a month but it didn’t take off. We had a band come in to help us but people just complained about how loud they were (they weren’t!). In Niddrie the only time singing is done with any amount of gusto is when we sing some of the great old hymns. They love that! In my congregation I have those who raise their hands and those who don’t. Those who want modern songs and those who don’t. Those who love hymns and those who don’t. Those who love singing and those who don’t. So, instead of trying to emotionally manipulate people into worshiping the Lord by blasting the drums and a bass guitar out at them, we are just consistently and persistently choosing a blend of biblically intelligent and meaningful hymns (many of them suck) and meaningful modern songs (many of them suck too).
What we don’t have is a ‘worship leader’. Instead, I choose from a pool of about 5 men whose characters and theological/biblical worship preferences come out in the type of songs that they pick. This, hopefully, gives the church some balance and a range of flavours. Some men lead very formally, some not so much, but all do it ‘decently and in order’. I am not sure how a specialised worship leader would improve our community outreach. I have a sneaking suspicion that people on the estate are not ‘not coming’ to worship God because our musical arrangements are not up to scratch! That being said, if somebody did turn up on our doorstep who had an amazing gift of leading in this area, we would consider using him but with the same checks and balances that we currently employ.