How the Worship Leader Leads
Guest Post by Josh Philpott
When I was in seminary I read Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great, and resonated with what he calls the “Hedgehog Concept.” In brief, the hedgehog is an animal that does one thing really well: when it is in danger, it huddles down and sticks out its spines, and thus avoids getting eaten by the fox. The hedgehog always wins the day because he defends himself so perfectly. An ancient Greek parable states, "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Thus, this concept of doing one thing really well applies to many aspects of life, especially some of the great companies that Collins highlights in his book.
More recently I’ve been thinking of the hedgehog concept in my ministry as a worship leader at my church. Since moving to Houston in 2012, I’ve made it my goal to do one thing well: I want to put the Word of God in the mouths of the people of God for the glory of God. This is exactly what Paul encourages us to do in Colossians 3:16, to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” How does one do this? “By teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, by singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
Worship leaders are called “leaders” mainly because they lead out in the singing, which is all well and good. But if “leading” is confined to music and singing then I think we’ve missed the point of what the New Testament says about leading worship services. My leading must take on a much more serious tone and biblical focus because leading in song is not the chief aim of Colossians 3—getting the word of Christ to dwell richly in the hearts of the church is. Fortunately, there are many ways to do this, chiefly by teaching and preaching, which Paul states first. Therein Scripture is unpacked and explained in great detail.
But in Colossians 3:16 Paul also provides some other ways related to the task of a worship leader, namely by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Singing, therefore, is a God-ordained way to get into the lives of people the rich, glorious truth of the Gospel. Indeed, music fit to truth is in itself God-honoring, rich, and glorious. The only problem with music is the lack of full development in expression that we have in preaching.
So if a worship leader is convinced that Paul is right in Colossians 3:16 (and he is) that he should do this one thing really well, what sort of man must he be to lead the church? Where should his focus be, and what should characterize his life?
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