Part 02: Words
I’ll continue to relay to you some of what I’m reading from Pastor Christine Longhurst’s course on Leading Well, January 2015 – from my mother’s notes. It’s really good stuff!
Tom Long of Princeton Seminary writes about the fact that we live in a culture that doesn’t trust words. Partly because the can be slippery, used to conceal, distort or deceive.
Why bring attention to this? It’s another reminder to leaders about the worship services we lead, and to consider how much we use words, and why we use them. Even where they are originally found is important.
I’m a supporter of the ‘less is more’ principal when it comes to using words during my music and worship leadership. I’m trusting that the Holy Spirit is actually involved and present doing the real spiritual work behind the scenes. But a few words may actually help, as inspired by the Spirit, to lead and direct the corporate group of worshippers to a unified place.
So here is Longhurst’s list of ideas for avoiding idle or unhelpful words.
- Before speaking, ask yourself if words are really necessary
- If they are, draw attention to the why instead of the what
- Use scripture as a key element in your transitions
- Use prayer - and I would insert liturgical prayer as a suggestion – written or ‘proven’ historical, poetic prayer - although Spirit inspired spontaneous prayer is obviously so important and appropriate too.
- Respect the texts of the songs you are singing – and I myself often pray verbally the lyrics of a song after or before we’ve sung it.
- After all these qualifiers, if you are going to speak, make the spoken words count
- Utilize SILENCE and SPACE.
Longhurst refers to Janice Springer’s quote from Nurturing Spiritual Depth In Worship, and I somewhat agree with it, that ‘we use so may words in church to cover the realization that though we know all about God, we do not know God’. This to me is a worthy challenge to consider carefully the words I choose to speak. Also, and more importantly perhaps, it a call to accountability.
Do I know about God? Yes, I think I know some, after a lifetime of being surrounded by faith and church, and a 10-year career as a music pastor. But do I know God, especially at that moment of corporate togetherness, leading and worshipping, hopefully doing so in Spirit and in Truth. That’s what I need to account for.
So may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, oh God.