But what if we thought of the service as a narrative? If the worship leader is to be a sort of spiritual guide, the service can be arranged in a way that re-enacts a Story. This is, in fact, how all the historic liturgies are ordered: They deliberately move the worshipping congregation from celebration to proclaimation to adoration to confession to thanksgiving to commission (or something like that!). Generally speaking, the service re-enacts the Great Drama of our Redemption, leading us to the place where we cry, “Holy, holy, holy,” and then, “Lord, have mercy,” and finally the great “Thank You!” as we receive the Eucharist (which means, the “Great Thanksgiving”).
A spiritual guide may interchange some elements or re-arrange the sequence; but he or she always has a narrative in mind—the Narrative of the Gospel, the life and death and resurrection and return of Jesus Christ.
2. Leadership is expressed as guidance on a journey.
Worship leaders are tempted every week to goad people into particular expressions of worship (“Come on! Shout to God!”), like a cheerleader at a pep rally. There is room, of course, for exhorting the people of God to respond to God in a particular way (Psalm 95 is a good example of this). But the word “leader” in our role as “worship leader” can get over-emphasized, and we can become obsessed with getting a particular response out of people. The temptation is only strengthened when the only thing that feeds our “worshipping imagination” are rock concerts.
What if the worship leader thought of her role more as a spiritual guide? Think of a good tour guide, orienting you to the sites and scenery, but getting out of the way so you can soak in the beauty for yourself. (There’s nothing worse than being surrounded by breath-taking veiws or being in an ancient cathedral with stunning artwork only to have it ruined by a chatty tour guide!) A good guide informs and instructs, then makes room for the people to enter and experience it for themselves. In a similar way, a worship leader can pick the moments in between songs to pray or read a Scripture or share a short exhortation, then get out of the way. Let the people behold the Beauty of the Lord for themselves.
What are your thoughts? What might it look like to think of our role as a spiritual guide?