For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5)
Giving Credit Where It’s Due
As a worship leader, I’ve often been credited with having ushered the church into the presence of God. Well-intentioned people have approached me after worship services to say, “Thanks for leading us to the throne today!”
While I’m sure such comments are intended to express sincere gratitude, and not to overemphasize my role as a worship leader to the point of messianic significance, I can’t help but inwardly cringe when I hear them. Why? Because such statements fail to convey the reality that our access to God’s presence has nothing to do with who happens to be on stage leading musical worship.
Therefore, I feel like it’s part of my job as a worship leader to tell you that I cannot usher you into the presence of God. I will never take you to the throne room. Only Jesus can do that. He is the Mediator between God and men. He’s the only One who can intercede for us at the throne of God. In other words, Jesus is your true Worship Leader, not me. I love how Mike Cosper drives home the significance of this:
“There at God’s right hand, Jesus is serving as a ‘minister in the holy places.’ This means that for every Christian, at all times and in all places, there has been only one Worship Leader—one who is worthy to enter that sacred space and able to endure the wrath of God in our places, making us able to ‘boldly enter in’ with Him and through Him. The songs we sing, the prayers we pray, the faith we confess—all of it is an echo and an amen to the perfect worship offered to God by His Son.” (p. 68 Rhythms of Grace)
Knowing that Jesus is our true Worship Leader assures us that, in Him, our worship brings pleasure to our Father in heaven, and that He is present with us as we worship Him together.
The Role of a Worship Leader
But if it’s true that only Jesus ushers us into God’s presence and a worship leader does not, then we must ask, what role does the musical worship leader play in the local church? I believe Bob Kauflin gives some very helpful insight about this in his blog series What Does A Worship Leader Do? when he says,
“An effective corporate worship leader, aided and led by the Holy Spirit, skillfully combines biblical truth with music to magnify the worth of God and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, thereby motivating the gathered church to join him in proclaiming and cherishing the truth about God and seeking to live all of life for the glory of God.”
In other words, my primary role on the Lord’s Day is to invite the congregation to join me in a spirit-and-truth response to the reality of God by observing the means He has ordained, but particularly through musical expression.
However, we should be wary of over-exaggerating a worship leader’s role, especially because it often displaces the person and work of Christ from His centrality in worship. I mean, sure, I can serve to construct biblically faithful church services. I can make sure we have functional equipment to use. I can also put the right people in place to serve the church through music and production. Those things, among many other things a worship leader might do, are certainly important in some sense. But in the end, the most important things about our worship—the things upon which all else rests—are the things that no earthly worship leader can do. They belong uniquely to Christ.
Therefore, on Sunday, as we gather with the people of LifePoint, we can be sure that God’s presence isn’t going to come because of any man’s skill or charisma. No, that will not do. We need something much better; we need the intercession of the risen Christ resonating through the corridors of heaven, bringing us near to the heart of the Father. So let’s show up to church with that in mind, banking everything on the One who has bridged the shadowy divide between a holy God and sinful humanity once for all.
Liturgy for Sunday, November 15, 2015:
Call to Worship: Psalm 34:1-3
Confession & Assurance: Hebrews 2:14-18
Benediction: Jude 24-25