It was a few years ago when the church where I currently serve was deciding to add a third service. At the time I was part-time (there is no such thing as a part time job at any church just part time pay) but heavily involved in the worship on Sundays. We kicked around a number of ideas for a 3rd service from a Saturday night modern service to a Sunday morning traditional service. I have to admit at the time I was chomping at the bit for any type of modern service that I would get a chance to play the type of worship that connects with me, the type that I wanted to play and hear.
At the same time a friend of mine was experiencing the same type of situation at a nearby church. We were able to share experiences thoughts and ideas around the whole idea. Sitting at his pastors house one afternoon we got to talking about the options of the new services. By that time we had pretty much decided to add another identical – to the other two – blended service (which by the way a sucessful blended service is a myth but in the words of Alton Brown “that’s another show” or in this case post). What they had decided to do was to add a modern service because that was what my friend was also good at and was his preference.
As we talked my friends pastor, upon hearing that I would be leading a blended type service, suggested to me that we were making a mistake and should just “do what I do.” Which I have to admit, I loved the idea that he was progressive enough to take that chance and suggest that adding a modern service was in my best interest and the best interest of our congregation (even though we realized that it would basically be as successful as adding another service in another language being that it was worship that they weren’t accustom too).
We decided for a few reasons to add another identical service. The first reason was because we just didn’t like the idea of segregating people by music preference when what we really aim for is one larger community split between services. The second was that, in all honesty, we felt people wouldn’t have responded in the way we would want because they were unfamiliar with that style of worship. So we had two choices, basically go for it with a cut the steeple off mentality – make waves, let those who don’t like it either leave or adjust, full steam ahead get onboard or not – or in the same way you learn a language you grow together teaching and learning in smaller doses. Our staff all like the direction we were heading but knew that a slower approach would work for our congregation rather than the cut and run approach.
My response to my friend when suggested the more brash approach was not that I should dictate as much as serve. The number one rule in comedy is one that should translate to worship leaders as well – know your audience. I felt my responsibility was to serve my congregation and grow with them rather than expect them to just follow. I am in no way suggesting that a congregation dictates the worship but in the same way a worship leader shouldn’t just dictate the worship either.
As worship leaders, we are called to serve and we are all called to lead. And we need to be aware of the difference and when to be the needed description. At that time in my life and the life of the church I served it was obvious that someone serving the people while leading them was what was needed. The pastor had set forth a vision but just jumping to the end goal would have neglected some of the growing, teaching, and learning that both the congregation and myself took part of.