Monday, December 8, 2008

An Open Letter to Worship Leaders Everywhere

Dear Worship Leader,

There are two major distinct ways for individuals attending the gathering of a community of faith to worship God through music, and trying to blend these two ways together does not turn out well.

One way to worship through music is to sing along with those leading.

Another way to worship through music is to listen to those performing.

Both are acceptable ways to worship God through music. One is participatory with respect to the music, the other is observational with respect to the music (but participatory with respect to the worship).

However sometimes worship leaders will start a song out with words on the projector screen that seem to indicate that the participants should sing along, and then the leaders sing according to a familiar arrangement of the song, and then suddenly one or more of the vocalists will break from the familiar notes and rhythms by singing differently. Quite often the difference would sound good if the other participants weren’t trying to sing along. But since the others are already singing, the difference distracts.

Singing together is about glorifying God, delighting in God; but it’s also about intercourse with other believers. It is about unity. Harmony, sure. But unity above all.

Please, worship leaders, please save your stylized vocals for your performance pieces, when I can enjoy them without feeling awkwardly left behind. When you lead me into song, please sing in accordance with a familiar arrangement.

Love in Christ,


  1. I will begin this comment with the humor, so as to get it out of the way. (I would hate to eclipse the seriousness of this post with my joking side) But I just can't help it:

    "...but it’s also about intercourse with other believers."


    I am interested to know for what reason you wrote this. Not the humorous portion I just cited above, but rather this post.

    You know, I cannot remember the last time I participated in that first way of worshiping God through music. I don't think I can anymore.


  3. seriously, this is why i cannot go to most churches. worship music is NOT worship music to me. it's just...something i have no positive words for.


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