It’s intriguing to ponder the role of holiness, or our perception thereof, as it plays in worship leading. Considering the fact that many churches employ players and singers who come from largely secular music backgrounds, the chance that some of these artists leading worship in the church may not even be believers, nevertheless believers with a holiness mindset, is probably better than you might imagine. Even for the church that uses only member volunteers, I wonder how we “vet” the holiness factor of these leaders? Do we just assume that since they are members of the church then they must be qualified from a holiness point of view to lead the church in worship? Do we know what the holiness factor for our church is? Or, to ask the title question, does leading worship, specifically through music in this case, demand holiness at all?
Instead of providing you a detailed attempt to answer this question, lets consider the questions that you and your church leadership can work to decide your own answers. I am not convinced there is only one right answer to this question. I think different churches will come to different conclusions based on several factors: Biblical interpretation, need, focus of your church’s mission and ministry, and other considerations specific to your church.
What I am convinced of is that every church, every congregation, should have an understanding and a position on this issue that can be clearly communicated to everyone on the worship leading team and to the congregation. Every church should be able to say, “when it comes to the spiritual life of our artists on the platform leading worship for our church, this is what we believe to be important, and we ask all of our artists to commit to following.”
When we get to the end of this article you will have a list of questions that, while certainly not comprehensive, should get the leadership of your church talking and praying about this very important topic. So “Does leading worship in our church demand holiness?
Once the decision has been made on which side your church is likely to fall on this issue, then we need to find the answer to other questions that will help you reach a way of thinking about holiness and worship leading.
- What does your church believe the Bible says about the role of holiness in worship leaders?
- Once you have determined what you believe the Bible says, can you build a list of characteristics, perhaps the biblical term “spiritual fruits,” that you expect to see in the worship leaders of your church?
- When will you be expecting to see these characteristics? On the stage while leading? Around the church? At work? In their homes? Basically, what are the parameters? How far are you expecting these leaders to carry these characteristics away from direct contact with the church?
- How will you communicate these spiritual expectations to your leaders? Will you make a list and expect them to adhere? Will you teach them or guide them?
- What will happen when a leader falls short? Are there consequences? Who is responsible for informing and/or enforcing those consequences? Will there be a grace period? If the consequence is removal from the team, is there a process to be reinstated
There are certainly more questions you can ask around this topic. Ultimately, all of this is centered on deciding what your church believes and expects from your worship leaders from a spiritual aspect and then communicating those beliefs to everyone in leadership.
Dr. Craig Gilbert is the founder of TheWorshipDoctor.com, a worship renewal ministry. He is a husband, father, and veteran worship leader with over 22 years of experience. His career centers around bringing unity, depth and vibrancy to the church in congregational worship. He is a published writer, clinician, teacher, and preacher. His newly released DVD teaching series, A Purposed Heart for the Purpose of Worship, can be found on his website.