"Preaching and Preachers". He was on to something back then. Modern "Worship Leaders" bother me for several reasons:
1. Some don't even get what worship really is. They wouldn't even take that title if they did because it reduces the idea of worship to singing "prom songs to Jesus" as Mark Driscoll puts it. The church has given up so much ground, and now it seems that worship has been given up too. It used to be that the pastors were the expert Biblical counselors, yet most pastors today will say that counseling is something for professionals and they send God's people off to shrinks because they gave up true discipleship a long time ago. If they understood discipleship, they would never have given up on counseling. The same goes for worship: if pastors understood what worship is, they wouldn't hand it off to some starved for attention musician who thinks he's a worship expert because he can bang on a guitar. Although I don't like a lot of his music, Bob Kauflin's book "Worship Matters" has a good chapter at the beginning to help straighten out the worship leader's understanding of worship - it's not just singing: it's all we do in response to God's grace for His glory!
2. Some often have their own agenda. Dan Lucarini was a worship leader who led church music in the typical modern Christian Rock style of worship music. He wrote several books on his experiences and why he left the entire worship leader scene. In his book "It's Not About the Music" he mentions from his own experience that many worship leaders have aspirations that are not about building up the local church, but rather building up their own reputation as an effective showman who are hopeful of landing a record deal and producing their own albums. I have experienced a similar thing with some worship leaders. Some don't respect the authority of the pastor or elders they work with. They think that the music/worship is something that they have authority over and they will do with it whatever they feel is going to draw out the best response from the congregation.
3. Many try to create an artificial experience. Music is powerful and can be used to have tremendous power over people because it has the ability to move the emotions by bypassing the mind's rationale. This doesn't always have to be the case, but in modern worship music, it often is. I have to admit that I really enjoy a lot of the worship songs written by Matt Redman such as "Blessed be Your Name; This is How We Know; You Alone Can Rescue; Facedown" and others. But when I listen to one of his albums, I really hate it when he repeats the chorus or one line in the chorus endlessly for five minutes, while he gets louder, the drums beat harder, the guitars strum louder until it climaxes at the end after having put you in a trance. It is really an abuse of music when the worship leader tries to get people high on an emotional trip. Thus, the closing eyes, waving hands around, and gyrating body movements that are identical to what happens at a Lady Gaga concert. I wonder why people don't get that worked up when they hear the expositional preaching of God's living and active Word which we know has REAL Power! No, most of the people who demand 45 minutes of standing "worship" experience also demand to keep the sermon short and sweet so they can get home before the kickoff starts! Part of this artificial worship experience is this strange fascination with turning down the lights and turning on moving colored stage lighting. I really wonder how in the world the church worshiped for 2000 years without these things! It's all a show: man-made artificial moving of the Spirit so that people can feel that they were close to God while turning their brains off. (With the best of intentions of course...we're not allowed to judge their motives as we are so frequently reminded.)
4. Many lead by following fads. When a worship leader says: "Oh that song is soooo old!" even though it was written three years ago, you know you have a problem. Three years ago, he couldn't wait to rock that song out at the church the moment it was released on Skillet's newest album! They are so often led by passing fads that they have no sense of appreciating the songs of the past unless of course one of their favorite groups re-recorded an old song with a new spin thereby giving it new hipster creds.
The truth is, whether the modern church likes it or not, worship is to be elder-led! They lead everything! They don't just deliver a sermon. That doesn't mean they have to do the singing or play the music, but they need to be the ones who call the shots and set the agenda for the music and lead the church from the beginning of the service to the end in worship - worship in fellowship, worship in song, worship in giving, worship in service and worship in the preached Word. Even in Revelation 4, the worship in heaven is going to be "elder-led" worship. So, if you have a "Worship Leader", consider changing his title because it is not a good term. If you're a pastor, then YOU are the worship leader and your musicians need to be led by a man who knows how to theologically lead people in worship through music, not a man who is led by the latest CCM fads that he saw at the latest Hillsong video.
Interesting Thought from Karl Barth
12 hours ago