Idolatry on Sunday Mornings, Part 8

by in —Leading a Congregation, —Leading a Team, —Worship and God

This is my final post in this series. It’s a little longer than the others, but it’s actually much shorter than it could be…The last idol I want to speak to is the idol of RELEVANCE.

Churches can become irrelevant for any number of reasons. Spiritual pride can keep us from considering that non-Christian guests may not understand our highly developed “Christian-speak.” Administrative incompetence might make it difficult for people to find us, or to enjoy being with us once they do (possibly due to crowded conditions, erratic temperature control, musty smells, etc.). A faulty understanding of what it means to be “in the world but not of the world” may result in a narrow interpretation of what external practices constitute godliness. Churches that don’t use electricity are one example that comes to mind. Each of the churches I’ve described here would bring greater glory to God by becoming more “relevant.”

However, the idol of relevance is rooted in the fear that people may not like us because we seem different from them. We want them to know we eat at the same restaurants, watch the same TV shows, listen to the same bands, laugh at the same jokes, and go to the same movies that they do. Our greatest fear is being perceived as out of touch.

Obviously, there are many times we’ll engage in the same activities as non-Christians. It’s one way that we maintain a conversation with and presence in the world. However, we’re fighting a losing battle when relevance becomes our aim – to convince the world we’re just like them. There are aspects of our culture that we clearly want to set ourselves apart from, simply because they contain so much that is opposed to glorying in Jesus Christ.

Martin Lloyd-Jones addressed the desire of preachers to be “relevant” in his book, Preaching and Preachers. His point is applicable to worship leaders as well.

“Our Lord attracted sinners because He was different. They drew near to Him because they felt that there was something different about Him. That poor sinful woman of whom we read in Luke 7 did not draw near to the Pharisees and wash their feet with her tears, and wipe them with the hair of her head. No, but she sensed something in our Lord – His purity, His holiness, His love – and so she drew near to Him. It was His essential difference that attracted her. And the world always expects us to be different. This idea that you are going to win people to the Christian faith by showing them that after all you are remarkably like them, is theologically and psychologically a profound blunder.” (p. 140)

Jesus possessed an “essential difference” that people, both religious leaders and prostitutes, were aware of. That difference included a profound humility, an unshakeable joy, and a servant heart. Ultimately, it was a refusal to bow to the god of this world, and an unyielding commitment to love His Father and obey His will. (Jn. 2:24-25, 5:30) Jesus related to sinners because He had come to give His life as a ransom for them. He hung around the “low-lifes” of his day enough to be accused of engaging in their sins (Lk. 7:34), yet we never get the impression he attended parties to prove that he was just like everyone there.

I could provide links to a number of church websites right here that would illustrate pursuing the idol of relevance. (After poking around the Internet, I’m convinced that truth is definitely stranger than fiction.) I decided not to do it, though. Like me, you may find it’s too easy to be tempted to self-righteousness, uncharitable judgment, or false accusation. I think the following description of the church in Acts succinctly communicates the distance that exists between the church and the world, and how God adds to His people in spite of it – or perhaps because of it. None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women. (Acts 5:13-14 ESV)

What I believe every Christian pastor and leader needs to answer are questions like these: Are people who visit our church more aware of how different we are or how similar we are to them? Are the people in my church growing in their likeness to the values of Jesus Christ or the world? Do the songs we sing and the references we make communicate the supreme treasure of God’s Word or the godless pride of our age?

On a more personal note, as a leader I want to carefully watch my own intake. It’s revealing to measure how much time I actually spend reading, studying, and observing the thoughts of non-Christians for the purpose of being “relevant.” How much is necessary for me to enable meaningful contact with the world around me? That’s a question I need to answer from the Lord’s perspective, not mine or the world’s.

I’m in the middle of reading Os Guiness’ book Prophetic Untimeliness: A Challenge to the Idol of Relevance. It’s an excellent read. I think this quote says what I’d like to say better than I ever could:

“By our breathless chase after relevance without a matching commitment to faithfulness, we have become not only unfaithful but irrelevant; by our determined efforts to redefine ourselves in ways that are more compelling to the modern world than are faithful to Christ, we have lost not only our identity but our authority and our relevance. Our crying need is to be faithful as well as relevant.” (p. 15)

“Father, by your grace make us faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ – in our words, our deeds, and our thoughts. And like the early church, we trust that more than ever believers will be added to the Lord.”


Bob Kauflin currently serves as the Director of Sovereign Grace Music for Sovereign Grace Ministries in Louisville, Kentucky.

Idolatry on Sunday Mornings, Part 7

I’m in the middle of a discussion on idols that can tempt us when we gather to worship God on Sunday mornings.

Today, I’d like to talk about the idol of REPUTATION, especially as it’s revealed in the lives of leaders. God commends a good reputation in Proverbs: A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. Prov. 22:1 That means God wants our lives characterized by virtues such as godliness, integrity, and faithfulness. However, I’m never to seek my good name at the expense of God’s name. I must never be more concerned about my reputation than God’s.

The idol of reputation is subtle. It’s masquerades behind holy acts, but reveals itself in unholy responses or thoughts. It’s sad, sobering, and scary that I can use the act of worshipping God to try to make myself look better in people’s eyes. I’ve done it countless times. Here are a few ways I’ve seen this idol express itself through the years… “I wonder if anyone will notice that outstanding piano fill…” “My voice is SO much better than hers.” “That was a GREAT song selection I made this morning!” “What do you mean you want the singing time to be cut short by five minutes?!” “Why don’t they ask me to sing more?” “I don’t need to rehearse like everyone else.” “I could NEVER sing in the choir. I’m a soloist.”

These are the more obvious self-exalting kind of thoughts. I’ve been guilty of all of them. However, the same root can manifest itself in anxiety and self-deprecation as well. “I wonder if people will like the worship today.” “My stomach is tied up in knots before every meeting.” “Worship was just terrible this morning.” “Don’t ask me to sing or play a solo.”

These responses are often rooted in the fear that we won’t get the credit and acclaim we crave. Because we’re afraid we won’t be honored, we make excuses, we aim low, we nurture unbelief, and give in to anxiety. In short, we fail to honor God. In both cases, our goal is the same – to improve what others think of us, rather than what they think of our Savior.

While musicians and pastors are no more sinful than anyone else, we do have particular temptations that we need to be aware of. Since much of what leaders do takes place in front of people, we can be tempted to steal glory from God. That is what I mean by serving the idol of our reputation. Of course, non-leaders can serve the same idol. As we sing praises to God, we can wonder if we’re singing in tune, if we look passionate (or contemplative) enough, or if the people around us are REALLY worshipping God.

Years ago, I was in England at a large Christian conference. During one seminar, we were led in corporate worship by a guitarist whom I thought was average in every respect. As he finished what I would describe as a sorry time of worship in song, the elderly gentleman to my side turned my way. With a glowing smile, he asked, “That was simply lovely, wasn’t it?” I wanted to say no, but the Holy Spirit caught my tongue before the answer slipped out. What I realized was that only one of us had been worshipping God during that time. And it wasn’t me. I was busy worshipping myself, exulting in my knowledge of worship, my experiences, my training, my background. Needless to say, God wasn’t impressed. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. (Is. 66:2b ESV) May God grant us grace to truly seek His reputation above our own each time we meet to worship Him.

For more on this topic, download the following free messages from the Sovereign Grace site:
Glad to Be a Doorkeeper by Pat Sczebel
Heart Attitudes for the Worship Team by Bob Kauflin


Bob Kauflin currently serves as the Director of Sovereign Grace Music for Sovereign Grace Ministries in Louisville, Kentucky.

What God Wants Pastors and Worship Leaders to Know

by on October 12, 2015 in —Defining Terms, —Worship and the Pastor

IMG_2467_FotorRecently I posted on What Pastors Wished Their Worship Leaders Knew and What Worship Leaders Wished Their Pastor Knew. Today I’d like to finish by suggesting a few things I think God wants both groups to know. These points certainly aren’t everything that can be said, but they might be helpful to keep in mind as we work together to serve our churches and bring glory to the Savior.

1. The church belongs to Jesus, not us. (Mt. 16:18)
Rivalry and disunity contradicts what Jesus came to do – make us one (Jn. 17:11, 21-22; Phil. 2:1-2).
If we think the other leader is taking away “our” time, the primary problem is the way we view our role.
Even though we’re on the same team, Jesus has appointed pastors to teach and lead in the church. At the end of the day, the worship leader should follow the pastor’s lead.

2. Our musical leadership and preaching are meant to flow from a life of worship. (Rom. 12:1-2; Heb. 13:15-16)
No amount of public fruit can make up for a lack of private devotion or the ongoing practice of sin.
If your devotional or family life is consistently suffering because of the time you give to public ministry, it’s time to take a break and get help.
God values our lives more than our gifts. He can use us, but he doesn’t need us.

3. We’re on the same team and have the same goal – to see God’s glory in Christ magnified in people’s hearts and lives. (2 Cor. 4:6)
Pastors use words while worship leaders use words and music.
In general, musicians need to remember to aim for the mind while preachers need to remember to aim for the heart.
The goal of our efforts should be to hear people say not, “What great worship!” or “What a great sermon!” but “What a great Savior!”

4. No leader will be effective apart from the the Holy Spirit working through God’s Word and the gospel. (1 Thess. 1:4-5; 1 Thess. 2:13; Rom. 1:16-17)
Neither our musical chops or our communication skills ultimately determine our effectiveness. God has established the means He works through and only He can bring the fruit.
We can’t add something to Scripture or the gospel and make them better than they already are.
What we win people with is what we tend to with them to. Rather than seeking primarily to make the music/preaching more creative, unusual, or innovative, we want to be faithful to make God’s Word and the gospel clear and relevant.

I pray that whatever role you serve in, pastor or congregational worship leader, you’ll find great joy in knowing that Jesus himself is building his church and the gates of hell – or challenging relationships with those who serve alongside you – will not prevail against it.


Bob Kauflin currently serves as the Director of Sovereign Grace Music for Sovereign Grace Ministries in Louisville, Kentucky.

What Pastors Wish Their Worship Leaders Knew

by

shutterstock_92514370_FotorThis past week I had the privilege of participating in the Cutting it Straight conference in Jacksonville, led by H.B. Charles, Jr. and hosted by Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church.

H.B. started this conference, now in its second year, specifically to influence African American pastors to preach expositionally. I was invited to be part of the worship track. H.B., along with his music pastor, Joe Pace, hopes to see more black churches singing songs that are theologically rich and gospel-centered. Not gospel like “black gospel,” but gospel like “Jesus bore our sins on the cross to purchase our forgiveness” gospel. While our cultural backgrounds are different, we share a passion to see the Word of God proclaimed in song in the power of the Spirit, and to see churches singing songs that enable the word of Christ to dwell in us richly.

For two of the seminars I was assigned the topic of “What Pastors/Worship Leaders Wish Their Worship Leader/Pastor Knew.” It was a little challenging because pastors and musicians vary widely in terms of their theology and practice. But here’s my attempt to pinpoint “What Pastors Wish Their Worship Leaders Knew.” Although this post highlights areas that might be problematic, pastors should regularly communicate support and evidences of grace in their worship leader before pointing out things that could be better. For the sake of this post, I’m using the term “worship leader” to describe a non-elder who leads the music during the gatherings of the church.

1. Pastors, not worship leaders, will give an account to God for the people in their church. (Heb. 13:17)
Pastors are ultimately responsible for the teaching and song diet of the church.
Pastors should know in advance what songs will be sung, and should play a part in choosing them.
If you want a pastor’s trust, you’ll have to earn it.

2. God’s Word to us matters more than our words to God. (Is. 66:2; Ps. 19:7-11)
Music ministry is Word ministry.
Don’t underestimate the value of proclaiming God’s Word passionately.
Seek to know your Bible better than your instrument.
Lead us to sing the Word, hear the Word, see the Word, and pray the Word.

3. We are what we sing. Therefore, choose our songs and lyrics wisely. (Col. 3:16)
You are discipling the congregation through your song choices and words.
For better or worse, our churches will remember more words from our songs they sing than from the sermons they hear.
Build a repertoire of songs that enable us to express the many varied aspects of God’s glory and the many appropriate responses, and make sure we’re singing them.

4. While song introductions can be helpful, the worship leader is not the preacher.
Your primary role is to enable the word of Christ to dwell in us as we sing, not to preach.
When speaking, typically less is more.
Choose good songs, and let the songs do the teaching.

5. Prayers are corporate conversations with God, not filler.
Don’t pray simply because you feel awkward or don’t know what else to do.
Use your prayers to speak for the congregation, not just yourself.
Model what theologically informed, engaged, Christ-exalting prayer looks like.
Don’t mix up the members of the Trinity, and don’t pray as though God has forgotten his name.

6. Your job is to support congregational singing, not overwhelm or replace it.  (Eph. 5:18-19; Rev. 5:9-10)
Make sure your sound man knows the value of the congregation’s voice.
If you constantly sing harmony, some of us will have a hard time knowing what the melody is.
Don’t assume your instrumentalists have to play constantly.
Pull back from your vocal mics sometimes, stop playing your instruments, and let us sing a cappella.

7. Truth matters more than tunes, but that doesn’t mean we should sing great theology to bad melodies or accompaniment.
Choose songs the congregation enjoys singing and can sing.
Occasionally try changing the arrangement, tempo, or feel of a song so the congregation can hear the lyrics in a fresh way.

8. Keys that serve the congregation take priority over keys that make you sound good. (Phil. 2:3-4)
We don’t come primarily to listen to you sing, but to lift up our own voices.
If you have to sing higher, try occasionally adding fills that heighten the impact and meaning of the lyrics we’re singing.
Congregations get weary if they have to sing a lot of high Ds and Es. If we’re singing F#s they’ll probably drop an octave or faint.

9. Don’t teach us so many new songs that we never learn them and so few new songs that we fail to benefit from them.
Learning about two songs every three months is doable. Learning 4 songs a month isn’t.
We have access to more songs more immediately than any time in history. Teach us the ones that we will feed our souls for more than a few weeks.
If your aim is to serve us, you won’t have to try to impress us.

10. Blaming sin on being an artist/musician doesn’t make it any less sinful.
Moodiness, over-sensitivity, procrastination, pride, irresponsibility, and laziness aren’t due to having a certain temperament but to indwelling sin.
Getting to know non-musicians in the church can provide perspective and encouragement.
If there’s anything in your life that might hinder or disqualify you from serving in your role, please let me know. I want to help you.

11. Your goal in leading isn’t performing, but pastoring and participation.
If the people in the church generally aren’t singing, you’re performing, not leading congregational worship.
Your job isn’t done just because you practiced. People have to actually sing.
Leading with your eyes open most of the time will communicate your care and help you gauge how people are responding.

12. You’re not the Holy Spirit, but you can depend on Him.
Music can’t open the eyes of our hearts, illumine our minds, our change our lives. But God’s Spirit can.
You don’t have to tell us to “sing louder” or “sing it like you mean it” or exhort us with “C’mon!” Give us doctrinal fuel and for our emotional fire and trust the Spirit will do the rest.
When you spend time in prayer asking God to empower what you do, you’ll lead more often with a humble confidence that is easy to follow.

13. Ultimately, Christ is our worship leader, not me or you. (Heb. 2:11-12, 8:1-2)
You don’t have to bring us into the throne room. Christ has already done that. (Heb. 10:19-22)
You don’t have to feel pressure or be anxious about leading us. Christ perfects all our offerings (1 Pet. 2:5)!
The more you point us to what Christ has done and is doing for us, the less we’ll see you and the more we’ll benefit from the ways God has gifted you.

If you’re a pastor and identify with some or many of these points, don’t keep it to yourself. More importantly, take your musical leader out for a meal and express your appreciation in specific ways. Then talk about what could be better. Who knows what God might do?

What would you add?

(Image courtesy of shutterstock.com)

Idolatry on Sunday Mornings, Pt. 5

By Bob Kauflin

We can’t help but notice the number of times God addresses idolatry in his Word. He hates it when we pursue, serve, or are emotionally drawn to other gods, which are not really gods at all. Idols enslave us (Ps. 106:36), put us to shame (Is. 45:16), and ultimately conform us to their image (Ps. 115:8).

But God’s intention is that we be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). Like the Psalmist, we should hate them and those who pay regard to them. (Ps. 31:6). Too often, though, we find ourselves to be the idolaters. Today, I want to share another idol that looms large when we worship God corporately. It particularly applies to musicians.

The Idol of Musical Excellence
Offering God our best has biblical precedent. (Ex. 23:19; Num 18:29-30) In today’s culture, that “best” is often defined as music marked by skill, complexity, or even sophistication. So four-part harmonies edge out unison melodies, orchestras trump upright pianos, and full bands with choirs replace solo guitarists. We become more concerned with making corporate worship bigger, better, and more involved. We balk at the thought of someone without extensive musical training and study leading congregational worship. In the process, we lose sight of what makes our offering acceptable in the first place.

Reggie Kidd, in his book With One Voice, pinpoints the problem: “In some churches the quest for ‘excellence’ is an idol, regardless of whether ‘excellence’ is defined by standards of so-called ‘classical’ culture or of ‘pop’ culture. Such ‘excellentism’ needs to be replaced with the quest to pursue the likeness of Christ crucified and him alone. As good as it gets this side of Christ’s return, we’re never going to get it completely right. There will always be a flat tenor, a broken guitar string, an overly loud organ, or a poorly placed hymn. But it’s okay. The cross means it’s covered.” (p. 101-102)

Does that mean we don’t need to be concerned about how we play, whether we’re in tune, or what songs we use? Of course not. God commends musical excellence (Ps. 33:3; 1 Chron. 15:22; 2 Chron. 30:21-22). Years ago, my degree in piano performance taught me (painfully) something about the value of musical skill and excellence. But in congregational worship, excellence has a purpose – to focus people’s attention on God’s wondrous acts and attributes.

In corporate worship then, excellence has more to do with issues of edification and encouragement than simple musical standards. Pursuing excellence wisely means continuing to grow in my skill so that I won’t distract those I’m seeking to serve. It means I might play fewer notes to allow more space for people to hear the words. It means I may have to sacrifice my ideas of musical “excellence” to make the truth more musically accessible to my congregation. It means I might not play at all sometimes so that the congregation can hear their own voices clearly ringing out in praise to God. Musical excellence, defined rightly, is a worthy pursuit. But like all idols, it makes a terrible god.

For more on this topic, download the following free message from the Sovereign Grace site: Understanding the Musician’s Heart by Eric Hughes


Bob Kauflin currently serves as the Director of Sovereign Grace Music for Sovereign Grace Ministries in Louisville, Kentucky.

Idolatry on Sunday Mornings, Pt. 4

By Bob Kauflin

I’d like to continue addressing a topic I began a couple weeks ago, that is, identifying the idols we may serve in our hearts even as we gather to worship God with His people. In previous posts we looked at music, tradition, creativity, experience, and liturgy. Here’s one more (well really, two).

Biblical Knowledge
I hesitate to include “biblical knowledge” as a potential idol. The reason I do is that we can wrongly pursue a knowledge of doctrine that is distinct from a knowledge of God Himself. We have to acknowledge this possibility or we easily fall into the error of the Pharisees, who took more pride in their “rightness” than in their relationship with God. We too, can be more impressed with the accurate theology in our songs than the fact that God has shown us mercy in Jesus Christ.

Doctrine and theology, humbly studied and applied, always lead us to fear, love, and worship God more, not less. For that reason, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for pursuing a knowledge of Scripture that didn’t lead to Him. “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40, ESV) As we grow in our understanding of and love for God’s Word, it should always produce a corresponding humility and godliness in us. How tragic that those who defend certain ways of worshipping God most vocally often disgregard the humility God esteems most highly. (Is. 66:2)

Biblical Ignorance
On the other side of the coin, we can exalt our ignorance of Scripture as we worship God, claiming that “words get in the way of worship.” At some point in the future I plan to share on the primacy of God’s Word in our worship. For now, it’s enough to say that when we don’t intentionally value God’s Word as the controlling influence and primary substance of our worship, other authorities rush in to fill its place. We are not more spiritual, nor closer to God, nor more mature if we think we don’t need words to communicate with God. God has always placed His Word at the center of our communion with Him, whether that be through song, prayer, or preaching. Through God’s Word we best come to know Who He is, who we are, and how we are to relate to Him. (Ex. 20; 1 Kings 8:9; Ex. 34:6-7; Josh 1:7-8; 2 Chron. 31:2-4; 34:29-33; Ps. 119; Ps. 19:7-11; Mt. 15:8; Acts 13:48-49; Col. 3:16; 1 Tim. 4:13)


Bob Kauflin currently serves as the Director of Sovereign Grace Music for Sovereign Grace Ministries in Louisville, Kentucky.

Healthy Worshipers Bunt

by Dr. David W. Manner

buntIn his search for the roots of violence, Mahatma Gandhi drafted a list to give to his grandson titled the “Seven Blunders of the World.” Number seven wasWorship without Sacrifice.

Paul focused on the divisions that segregate us. In the twelfth chapter of Romans he wrote, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – which is your spiritual worship.”

Paul used this image of the body to represent the whole person, including ideologies and preferences. Living sacrifice signifies an ongoing, constant, all-inclusive submission. To sacrifice is to surrender for the sake of something or someone else. It is the act of giving up, offering up or letting go. The antonym of sacrifice is to hold on to.

A bunt in baseball is designated as a sacrifice for the purpose of advancing another runner. Executing this sacrifice is called laying down a bunt. What a challenging word picture for the church as it gathers together in communal worship.

Worship Bunters…

  • Lay down their preferences because they love those with whom they worship more than they love those preferences.
  • Acknowledge that worship did not begin and will not end with the worship preferences of their generation.
  • Admit it is arrogant to assume their favorite worship and God’s favorite worship are the same.

Charles Thomas Studd, an English missionary who served in China, India, and Africa had this statement as his motto:  “If Jesus Christ is God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him.”


Dr. David W. Manner serves as the Associate Executive Director for Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists with responsibilities in the areas of Worship, Leadership and Administration. He is the author of the Worship Evaluation Blog.

The Worship Leader in the Pew: What to Do When Not on Stage

By Kristen Gilles

leader-in-the pewWorship leaders, is our worship genuine if we’re only modeling worshipful and thankful hearts when we’re on the stage? What about the weeks when you’re not scheduled to lead with the team? Have you considered how you can aid the worship culture of your church by “leading from the pew”?

Worship leaders (and for the sake of this article, I mean “everyone who makes music or leads liturgical readings from the stage”) must set a good example beyond their regularly scheduled service times.

  • We aren’t just worship leaders when we’re on a platform in front of our congregations.
  • Our role is not confined to an assigned instrument or microphone.

If we truly love our God and desire to worship Him, we will exhibit spiritual, truthful worship not only from the stage but when we’re standing in the gathered congregation.

If our attendance at our gathered worship services is limited to the times when we’re scheduled to serve, what kind of example are we setting for those we are called to lead? We’re likely sending them these messages:

  1. It’s not important to attend every time the congregation gathers to worship.
  2. We don’t need to participate in worship from the congregation since we’re only called to lead in front of the congregation.
  3. We’re so spiritual that we’re exempt from participating outside of our regularly scheduled service times.

If you do attend regularly even when you’re not scheduled to serve with the worship team, consider whether your worshipful participation in the gathered congregation continues to lead your people well.

  • Are you actively engaging in the worship service?
  • Do you sing out with all your heart?
  • Do you lift your hands to the Lord?
  • Do you sincerely participate in the liturgical prayers and Scripture readings?
  • Are you worshiping the Lord in spirit and in truth (whatever that may look like for you) when you’re not in the leadership spotlight on stage?

Our goal should not be to actively engage in worship from the pews in order to draw attention to ourselves. Rather, we should seek to continue leading the congregation in worship by modeling a worshipful and thankful attitude as we worship alongside them.

We should be eager to gather with the church and to worship our Great God together, whether scheduled to serve and lead from the front, or whether we “have the week off.”

Kristen Gilles is a deacon at Louisville’s Sojourn Community Church. Her new CD Parker’s Mercy Brigade is a story of faith, lament, comfort, healing and worship following the stillbirth of her son. Kristen blogs about worship with her husband, Sojourn’s Bobby Gilles, at mysonginthenight.com.

http://worshipleader.com/leadership/the-worship-leader-in-the-pew-what-to-do-when-not-on-stage/

Being Above Reproach

By Greg Brewton

above reproachAs a worship minister serving in the church, we must always seek to be above reproach. Our work is a holy work and deserves Christ-like leaders. It seems every month or so, I hear of a minister who has fallen and is forced to leave the ministry. I don’t believe a minister consciously sets out to destroy his own ministry by falling into sinful habits or practice. It is a slow drift that can be imperceptible at first yet takes a minister way off the path in a short while. Being above reproach is a constant fight on the part of the minister. We are in a spiritual battle for our ministries each day and if we do not recognize the spiritual warfare, we too will fall.

When thinking about how to be of above reproach, a good place to reference is Titus chapter 1. In verses 5-9 the Apostle Paul gives us a list of qualifications for elders in the church. Though every worship ministry position may not be considered an elder-type position, these verses should function as a checklist for the worship minister. Here is a quick listing of the characteristics of an elder: husband of one wife, children are believers, a steward of God, not arrogant, not quick tempered, not a drunkard, not violent, not greedy for gain, hospitable, lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, disciplined, holds firm to the Word of God, gives instruction in sound doctrine, respectable, not a recent convert, and well thought of by outsiders.

This list is really all about the character of the minister. The church leader must be free from sinful behaviors that would prevent him from being a Christ-like example for his congregation. The call to ministry is a call to holiness. Robert Murray M’Cheyne, well-known Scottish preacher from the nineteenth century said,

It is not great talents God blesses so much as likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God. What my people need most is my personal holiness.

Though no follower of Christ is without sin, those who are ministers in the church must be willing to live to the high standard that is set forth in Titus for an elder. Ministers who will not live above reproach should not go into ministry.

Here are 7 guidelines to practicing being above reproach.

  1. We must be under constant nourishment from Scripture. Ministers who do not spend daily time in the Word are already drifting. It’s a dangerous thing to think that we do not have time for God’s Word in our ministries. (Psalm 119: 11, 105)
  2. We must reserve time for prayer in our ministries. Perhaps the single most important influence we have as ministers is being a prayer warrior for our homes and ministries. (Ephesians 6: 18-19)
  3. We must guard our hearts. Be on the alert for improper thoughts or emotions we may have towards another church member or staff person. Never be alone with a person of the opposite sex that is not your spouse. If you think you are strong and above temptation, you will be the first to fall. (I Corinthians 10: 12-13)
  4. We must avoid the appearance of evil. Think about how an action or activity may appear to another church member or neighbor. It may be an innocent activity, but if it looks improper, perhaps you should not be involved. Don’t destroy your witness for something you think you have a right to do. This is being above reproach. (I Thessalonians 5:22)
  5. Don’t put yourself in places of temptation. You know how you are wired and where your weak areas are. Run from these places. If you are viewing pornography, you must escape this sin immediately. It will destroy your family and your ministry. Put in safeguards to prevent you from slipping in this area. (Hebrews 12:1-4)
  6. Get accountability. Sometimes ministers can be the loneliest people. We must have friends and build relationships with someone who can hold us accountable. (Romans 1:8-15)
  7. Never handle money at your church. Always get someone else to collect money or get money deposited. (I Timothy 6:6-16)

Being above reproach can seem like an impossible task outside of the work of Holy Spirit in our lives. I need to be reminded daily how weak and desperate I am in my own strength and how easily I can fall. We are called to be holy ministers for Christ. We can’t do this in our own strength. Every morning before we leave our homes we need to seek the Spirit’s power to live the life of a minister that is above reproach.

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Greg Brewton is an associate professor of worship and chair of the Department of Biblical Worship at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY

http://worshipleader.com/leadership/being-above-reproach/