In a series of earlier posts I suggested that there is a whole banquet of New Testament activities that count as ‘ministry of the Word.’ It can’t be reduced merely to preaching sermons: there’s discipling, leadership, counselling, evangelism, apologetics – all need God’s Word opened and applied.
But I’m pretty sure I missed one on the list, and it was only being at the Sovereign Grace conference with Bob Kauflin last week that made me realise it.
Colossians 3:6 says, Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (ESV)
That is, as we sing to God we are also teaching one another, and because the purpose of the singing is to ‘Let the message of Christ dwell among us richly’, and the source of our singing is richly biblical (psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, that means that the choice and content of what we sing is another Word ministry.
- Songwriting is a teaching ministry
- Selecting and ordering our songs is a teaching ministry
- Introducing and linking our songs is a teaching ministry
- Guiding us to sing sensitively and thoughtfully is a teaching ministry
I’m still wary of the term ‘worship leader’ – it’s one that the New Testament uses for Jesus (Heb. 8:2), and since he does his work completely, I don’t want to detract from that. It’s for the same reason I am wary of the term ‘priest’. (I know Bob Kauflin would disagree on this. I think it unhelpfully focusses on that one slot of the week as our ‘worship’, and focusses on a required individual other than Jesus).
But we do still need some word to describe people who lead us in this area of teaching and admonishing one another in song. ‘Music pastor’ might work. It’s not a New Testament phrase, but it doesn’t fight against any of the Lord Jesus’s titles – although it does focus more on the music than the words. Song leader? Lead singer? Head chorister?
Help me out here – what are you employing these people to do, and what are you employing them as?