The leader of congregational music occupies a critically important role in the worship of God’s people. Most men look for leadership whom they consider “manly” and as coming from a decisive leader. If you want your men to sing, then give them men to lead. Here are some additional general principles:
5.Performance is neither necessary nor desirable. Congregational participation in music is 90% of the success. As often as not, the congregational music is actually a “performance” by a praise team, a trap set, maybe a cajon, and one to three guitars. The audience is urged to sing along, but often they are unable to do so. The format is that of a Rock concert, sometimes including variegated lighting and often smoke machines. Because people are listening to such music popularly, it seems right and necessary to baptize the concept into the church scene.
But worship is a biblical concept, which by its nature has little room for performance. The purpose is for the entire congregation to honor the Lord in all aspects of the service. Note this in the earliest records of worship in the Old Testament. Full participation by the congregation remains the sine qua non of the singing and worship experience. Mere performance is the property of the entertainment industry – not the church of God.
6.The leader of congregational music does not simply swallow a mic and sing above the congregation but rather directs the choir (namely, his congregation) as they sing. While I am not arguing here that the leader must beat a particular pattern according to the time signature of the music, I am insisting that a good congregational leader directs with all the energies of his body and soul. He is the leader, and he must actively assume that role.
7.The leader needs to be winsome, spiritual, happy, and carefully prepared by prayer and meditation to lead the congregation. In other words, it is a calling from God. Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun are singled out as strategic leaders for worship and nothing has changed. As a godly leader in a church, the one directing musical worship should be renown for his knowledge of God’s Word and his commitment to it.
8.The music leader is not to preach or spend much time speaking his own words. His medium is not generally meant to be devotionalizing but rather through music expression to honor God and to teach the people. Listening to someone drone on about spiritual matters, about which they often know little, one is led to wonder if the leaders have little confidence in their own musical skills.
9.The music leader must dress appropriately, accepting the leadership role in every aspect of his life and ministry. All musicians participating in congregational leadership should be dressed as leaders and certainly never provocatively. In so saying, I am not arguing for the necessity of a tie and coat. Note that most news channels clothe their anchors in tie and coat. Three quarters of football team coaches are so clad. Attorneys headed for the court almost always adorn themselves accordingly.
What can be safely ventured is to note that the Levitical role in worship began with cleansing. Their dress was also appropriate to their roles as leaders and designed to honor God. I do inveigh against jeans with holes and any form of attire that is provocative in any way. Actually the leader of the music program needs to explain carefully his dress code and hold participants to that code. This is a part of teaching young people to be prepared for the future and is unique to the role of the music leader.
The role of the music leader focuses mainly on music and the teaching of theology through music. But secondarily, he has a responsibility to encourage many to participate in the program and to instruct in accompanying attitudes of dress and spiritual leadership, which must characterize the next generation of leaders. This leadership assignment is crucial to the proper development of the Christian church.