We are in the process of calling a full-time “Worship/Music Pastor” at our church. The journey has been loooong … and sometimes discouraging. Having been in ministry leadership for 30+ years, I have come to believe that the role of “director of music” (Psalms 18, 109, 139 and others) in the local church may just be the most difficult ministry position that there is. There are several passages to guide us, as a church, when we think about the role of the Elder or Deacon. But what does the Worship/Music Director look like, in biblical terms?
I love the synonyms I find for “worship”. As a noun, there is: reverence, adoration, glorification, glory, exaltation; devotion, praise, thanksgiving, homage, honor. As a verb there is: revere, honor, adore, glorify, exalt, cherish, treasure, follow, magnify.
Although it has wrongly become that, “music” is not a synonym for worship (or vice versa). Most of us who have read and studied the bible are aware that the word “worship” in biblical terms speaks of much more than the music we sing. In fact, most of the verses calling us to worship aren’t referring to the hymn or song we sing at the beginning of a church service. The call or mandate to worship is about our living. The words above are to characterize the life of the Jesus person/Christ follower, not just our songs.
Today, though, I’m focusing on our worship collectively through singing/music. In many of the verses I’ve read, biblical worship through song would agree with the synonym list. The Psalmist directs the music leader to proclaim: How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with You. (Note the adoration and honor and homage given in Psalm 139). And there’s the encouragement in Psalm 109: With my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord; I will praise Him in the midst of the throng. (Note the praise and thanksgiving). And in Psalm 18 we read: For He stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save him from those who condemn his soul to death. (We see the song of one who has been rescued, singing his devotion to his Rescuer.)
Most of us who have been around church conversations in recent years are very aware that there are many opinions regarding worship through music. We have some examples (Eph 5:19 and Col 3:16) of the kinds of songs they sang “in the church”, but unfortunately we don’t have much biblical guidance when it comes to the responsibilities of the music minister/director. My prayer for our church – and that includes me personally – is that we will pursue a genuine heart of worship that will prepare us for each Sunday when we gather for corporate worship of our God through singing. I believe that the primary purpose of the Director of Music is to direct hearts to God. I pray for the one God brings to our church to lead us. But I also pray that we will all be true worshipers, and will collectively seek to passionately and purposefully adorn God with rich new songs, familiar old songs, energetic loud songs and reflective serious songs. As David Mathis so well put it: “If we take our cues from the worship of heaven in the book of Revelation, and get a little foretaste now of the feast of worship to come, it seems God would have us blend in new songs with the old as we prepare to sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever (Psalm 89:1). In Revelation 15:3, we’re told that those who had conquered the beast sing the song of Moses — which is an old song from Exodus 15 or Deuteronomy 32. But they also sing the song of the Lamb, a new song.”
LORD, we are Yours. May we be true worshipers … living a life filled with YOU, the Spirit and the Truth.
Yes, Father, let my life song sing for you.