If we’re being honest, most folks probably have a fairly limited understanding of what the role of a worship leader entails on a given week. This is the case with most vocations, though, as I don’t do your job, so I would hardly be conversant in what you do every day at work.
“Oh, you’re an IT procurements manager with the specialization in statistical analysis and data reconfiguration? What, uh… what’s that mean?” Shaun said.
The forest gets a bit more dense when we discuss what actually doing that work consists of, but we’re not here for that today. What I’d like to do give a quick glimpse into what the worship leaders here at Gateway do beyond leading music during Saturday and Sunday services. The fact is we hold this role to a high standard not only because of its visibility, but also because of its function.
It’s been said by more than a few pastors through the years that some folks will walk out of church and won’t remember a word of the sermon, but they’ll definitely remember the music. Part of that is, obviously, because music carries melody and melodies stick with us, especially the catchy ones. But the role of the worship leader begins long before Saturday or Sunday, and involves much more than merely singing/playing songs. Dr. John D. Witvliet has this to say regarding the responsibilities of worship leaders:
We also have the holy task of being stewards of God's Word. Our choices of scripture in themes of worship represent a degree of control over people's spiritual diets, over how they feed on the bread of life.
The role of the worship leader at Gateway stretches beyond simply leading songs when you consider the additional elements worship leaders write or select for our worship times. On any given week, the individual who serves as the “worship leader” on stage is also the person who has spent more than a few hours of their week thinking and meditating on Scripture verses to serve as our congregational readings and in writing or outlining the prayers they offer. And in all honesty, we make it a point to think about and pray for you, the congregation, when we’re planning out services and the elements that we incorporate.
The reality of our responsibilities as noted by Witvliet is further distilled by of one of my favorite authors, Mike Cosper, when he says, “The songs and prayers we place on the congregations lips will, to varying degrees, be taken with them into the rest of the week.” And this thought certainly has merit: we hear from the gracious people of Gateway now and then about the prayers we offer and the songs we sing and the impact they have long after people have left the building. We want to put prayers and songs on your lips and in your hearts that stir your affections for Christ, and deepen your awe of him. As worship leaders, have two goals in mind each week: to glorify God and to edify the congregation.
In closing, I think I can freely speak for the rest of the worship leaders when I say that it is truly a gift to hear the people of Gateway read these scriptures, sing these songs, and respond to these prayers. It’s a joy to serve in these roles because we get to see the curtain of eternity pulled back a little as we gather together to sing and share in the gospel as the gathered church. We love you folks and are grateful to serve you as we serve God!