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?
10 comments on “Another Ministry of the Word? (The one I missed…)”
How about “Lead Worshipper”?
Isn’t that Jesus?
Yes of course. We must never detract from Christ’s pre-eminence in these matters. However, we are speaking about the worship within a church context, so you have to come up with some title! Personally, I wouldn’t use Lead Worshipper as an official title, but as a corrective to people’s thinking about what the person leading the service should be doing. In other words, they are not a performer in any sense but primarily a worshipper like everyone else.
Thanks very much for the encouraging blogs. Perhaps it was on the previous posts but is praying another one for the list of word ministry?
In the previous posts u was riffing in Acts 6 – prayer and ministry of the word. So it’s an essential partner of all, not limited to one I should have made that point here too. Thanks Lee.
As a measure of your ability to stimulate further thinking, and my inability to find the other posts, translation would feature under that heading too and (depending on your view) New Testament prophesying. Back onto the main thread, I’m also uncomfortable with ‘worship leader’, more because of potentially misleading people with what’s not being said about worship rather than an over-fussiness about what is being said about being ‘the leader’ or overseer of anything. Worship + leader compounds my anxiety though. Admittedly, it’s a ‘line(s) in the sand’ argument. ‘Music team leader’ would be an imperfect but acceptable approximation for me.
But ‘music’ tends to focus on the tunes rather than the words?
I know someone who works as the “music director” at his church – how about that?
But if we’re going to be consistent, shouldn’t we also be wary of titles like “church leader,” “head pastor,” and maybe even “Bible study leader”?
How about ‘chief encourager’?
…Yes. It’s imperfect for sure. The music does imply the song less than the song implies the music. However, if it’s clearly signposted as defining a particular type of word ministry [I’m nodding] then the problem evaporates? If we go the other way, would we be asking someone to join the “song group”? This might be even more confusing and need much more in the way of explanation? The Briefing email exchange between Carson and Payne from 2000 is enlightening.