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Glenn Packiam: Prophetic Worship Leaders

I was at a conference earlier this year where a lady did a beautiful spoken word piece about the sorrow of losing her mother to cancer. Immediately, it put all of us in touch with our own grief, with the sadness in the world, without resorting to sentimentality. When we give voice to grief, we are protesting the line that those in power feed us, telling us all is well and all will be well. Grief is permission to say, “All is not well!” (I wrote in “LUCKY” that to mourn is to protest. And Jesus joins us in it.)

Prophetic worship leaders can be the chief mourners before he or she becomes the lead worshipper.

3. Prophetic Worship Leaders can give rise to hope.

The role of prophet worship leaders is not simply to be descriptive (saying what God is like) or prescriptive (calling people to respond to Him); we are also to be imaginative: we awaken people to see something new, something that has not yet come to be, so that hope fills their hearts. The temptation is to try to be precise: Tell me exactly what heaven is like or what new creation will look like or how God will bring about restoration. But the language of hope, Brueggemann writes, is in poetry because it is meant to evoke and inspire not inform.

My friend, Jon Egan, does an extraordinary job of this. He writes songs that inspire a vision of freedom that is “already and not yet,” so that though it is “yet to come”, we are invited to live into it “as though it is.” I could list a number of Jon’s songs that do this, but the one that comes immediately to mind is one inspired by Ezekiel’s vision of dry bones. It is not typical that worship songs include a bridge about dry bones walking and dancing and coming back to life! Yet the vision, set to music, inspires hope. Gungor’s “This Is Not the End” is another example of this, awakening us to believe that one day we will “open our eyes wide, wider.” And I have to mention All Sons and Daughters’ anthem, “All the Poor and Powerless”, that helps us see the Great Reversal that is coming because of Jesus and His Kingdom.

What are some ways the worship leader can be a poet-prophet in your context?

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Glenn Packiam is one of the associate senior pastors at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the lead pastor of New Life Downtown, a congregation of New Life Church. Glenn earned a Doctorate in Theology and Ministry from Durham University in the UK. He also holds BA in Theological/Historical Studies and Masters in Management from Oral Roberts University, and a Graduate Certificate in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. Glenn and his wife, Holly, have four children.