A great book for church musicians to think through,
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This review is from: Doxology and Theology (Paperback)
The opening paragraph of this collection of essays sets out its grand theme, and is worth quoting from at length:
"One of the greatest needs of the modern church is theologically driven worship leaders. The church is starving for worship leaders who will teach them to sing about the great gospel of Christ in all its richness...
Many believe that...pastors and professors teach the truth and the worship leaders lead the singing. And because of this, our churches are limping along with people who do not understand that the greatest truths of the gospel have always been designed to cause the greatest praise."
It's a stirring and timely plea to a contemporary church where 'worship' often means 'music', and 'music' can just end up as 'entertainment' or 'therapy'.
And the rest of the book attempts to flesh this out with a dozen short essays. So we have "The worship leader and Mission", "The worship leader and the Trinity", "The worship leader and Liturgy", "The worship leader and Creativity", and so on.
And they don't do a bad job. There is much to stir up the typical church musician / worship leader, many memorable and quotable sentences (from the authors as well as from others), and much food for thought and prayer.
How could it be even better? Firstly, for a book that's seeking to keep us biblical, there is very little biblical background on who exactly we're talking about when we say 'worship leader'. It's a title which doesn't feature in the bible, as the book admits. Not that this makes it necessarily inappropriate; but, other than the assumption that 'we all know who we're talking about really' there's little solid discussion to clarify the terms.
The need for this becomes apparent during a brief discussion on whether the worship leader should be a man rather than a woman. They say "the oversight of worship in the church ought to be led [sic] by a worship-leading pastor [i.e. a man]." (p28). Now, if you accept a complementarian biblical view of male headship and eldership, then that is surely right in principle. But it begs the question of who is overseeing what, and at what level. Is the church's senior pastor really the worship leader, or does that depend on how 'hands on' he is during a service, i.e. whether he's the one who introduces most of the songs? And if he is, then is the person who leads the singing, or some other element of the meeting, really a 'worship leader' or necessarily someone in a role of headship that ought to be held by a man? Surely it all depends on how it's handled in the local church! So this needed more thorough discussion and application, and, perhaps, a greater recognition that 'worship leading' in every evangelical church does not look exactly like it does in theirs.
Secondly, the book would have benefited from closer editing: a number of the essays could have been tightened up. There are also several errors of spelling and punctuation, and a whole host of dangling participles. And the inspiring story of the Moravian missionaries on p90 is (as far as I am aware) not quite correctly told. Tighter editing would help all this.
But there is much good, including some stand-out chapters: Aaron Keyes on "The worship leader and Discipleship", Matt Boswell on "The worship leader and Family Worship", and Andi Rozier on "The worship leader and his Pastor". Church musicians and others will find many of the chapters a real inspiration and help.
I recommend this book; and that first paragraph should be inscribed onto our music stands and woven into our guitar straps.