A Theology of Worship Administration
Worship and the Mission of the Church
We are here for a reason. When we set about to form a theology of the mission of the church, we must come to an understanding of what that mission might be based on a guiding authority. It might be a current philosophy of a current “successful” church. It could be an historical understanding that has stood the test of time. Our source might even lie outside of Christian tradition, derived from the philosophies of people. None of these sources will serve this study–we will look to the most authoritative source. The mission of the Church (the New Covenant Family of God’s Chosen People) is clearly stated in scripture in several ways in several places. Let us go directly to the words of Jesus for a pair of clear statements.
Mark 16:15 NKJV
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
Matthew 22:37-39 NKJV
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
We call these two scriptures passages the Great Commission and the Great Commandments. Beginning here, we will seek out ways to form an earthly administration of this heavenly truth. In this lecture I will attempt to answer these questions and propose principles as to how such ministry can be effectively led. Effective leadership is never random; there is always a practical plan.
And what is the purpose of this plan? It is found in Psalm 66 and in the title of this lecture.
Psalm 66:1-2 NKJV
Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth! Sing out the honor of His name; Make His praise glorious.
To “make His praise glorious” means a maximum effort. We hold nothing back in artful excellence, in well-chosen instrumentation and voice, in sublime subtlety, in form and content, in power and passion, in dynamics from the softest pianissimo to the most forceful fortissimo, and from the sweetest intimacy of quiet strings to the most exuberant exclamation of brass and percussion. Glorious praise, multi-faceted just like Him, detailed in the tiniest particle and the grandest proportion, this is what He deserves. This is the “Glory due His name!” This is what we must administrate!
Defining the Mission of the Church
The Great Commandments and the Great Commission define the mission of the church.
We can re-state these commands to crystalize our mission: Love God. Love People.
From a practical, task-oriented approach we can say this: The Mission of the Church is
- To minister to God,
- To minister to the Church, and
- To Minister to the World.
Getting even more specific we can define these words in terms of action:
- We minister to the Lord with Worship and Obedience.
- We minister to the Church with Fellowship and Discipleship.
- We minister to the World with Prayer, Witness, and Compassion.
Our mission is clear. How can we go about fulfilling this mission? What part does the ministry of worship play? How does the worship ministry fulfill these points of mission? The Great Commandments and the Great Commission, loving God and loving people, can only be done by the power of the Holy Spirit within the lives of believers. As Paul said, we are the earthen vessels, the “jars of clay,” as modern translations say it. The Spirit is the treasure within us; He does the work!
2 Corinthians 4:7-8NKJV
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
Although all points of mission are of equal importance, ministry to the Lord in Worship is the first among our points of mission because our relationship with God must come before our dealings with people. Why? Because our worship-life is the source of the power needed to do any sort of ministry to people. It takes spiritual power to do a spiritual work.
The Anointing of the Holy Spirit is the biblical term for the flow of this power. In the Old Covenant, when God chose something or someone, they were marked with a certain oil made only for this purpose. This anointing oil signified that the person or thing was “holy unto the Lord.” In the New Covenant this practice was spiritualized so that each believer has an anointing. These are ministry gifts from God’s hands to our lives.
1 John 2:20; 27 NKJV
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. …But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.
God’s purposes in distributing ministry gifts to the church are the fulfillment of the mission of the church–Love God; Love People.
Ephesians 4:7-8 NKJV
But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.”
The purpose of the administration of the worship ministry is the management of these gifts. We are called:
- To encourage those gifted in the Worship Arts toward a spiritual life,
- To organize their various ministries in the preparation and presentation of our worship services, and
- To perpetuate these giftings from generation to generation.
The Partnership of Skill and Anointing
The ministry of the worship arts is a dynamic duet of human skill and divine anointing. We must come to understand the partnership between skill and anointing. God gives certain people the ability to learn to do something. We call these innate abilities talents. There is no substitute for talent. Talents usually immerge in childhood. When an individual is blessed with opportunity, teachers can develop those talents into skills. As these skills develop, the student grows in ability. Music education in all its forms is a wonderful ally to music ministry. Children’s choirs are an essential part of these skill development processes. When musical talent blossoms into musical skill young singers and players need to be involved in the worship ministry. Proper Worship ministries administration will see to it that next generations of talented, skillful people have opportunity. This should not be left to worldly systems alone. The world does not know how to deal with the skill/anointing partnership. The church knows how to develop the “earthen vessel” and the treasure within it.
Leaders of the Worship Ministries must properly group these talented/skillful ones: They exist in three major groups:
- Vocalists: singers with high or low pitched voices with good senses of pitch and rhythm,
- Instrumentalists: rhythm players (keyboard, guitar, bass, drums), and band/orchestra instruments, and
- Technicians: audio, video, recording, stage design.
Individuals in each group must be life-long learners. Good musicians (singers and players!) never stop learning! All vocalists and instrumentalists should become music readers. Do not be taken in by the false musical pride that says “playing by ear” is more spiritual than playing by notes. Notation was invented in the church for the purposes of transferring music from person to person and from generation to generation. The original name for notes was “neumes,” the same root word for Holy Spirit, meaning “the breath of God. The leadership of the worship ministries of the church should know enough about vocal and instrumental music and the technical support of them to lead these ministries effectively. This is good stewardship.
Administrators must construct a schedule based on what I call the “Preparation = Presentation equation.”
This means that the amount artistic presentation expected from the ministry must be matched by the amount of preparation required to produce such art. When these two factors are not in proper relationship, as in there is more music expected than the team can prepare in the allotted time, this will greatly hinder the team. Godly artists value preparation as well we presentation. When there is an inequality here, the ministry will be dysfunctional in some way.
This is an example of ineffective administration. This imbalance is not at all functional. It can only lead to poor artistry, ineffective ministry, and repeated turnover of personnel. No artist worth his/her salt wants to present less than their best work, especially in the name of the Lord!
The ministry of the worship team is sustained by the private spirituality of the team members.
The promise of Jesus about the power of private prayer in relation to public worship is essential to effective public worship.
Matthew 6:6 NKJV
But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
Regular, Secret Place interaction with the Lord in prayer and Bible reading is essential. The Refiner’s Fire and Launderer’s Soap are our means of progressing in our holiness before the Lord. Our anointing deepens as we spent time with the Lord each day. Administrators of Worship Ministries must also lead private worship by encouraging and facilitating the Secret Place ministry of team members. The private worship ministry of musicians and other worship arts should also include continued study of their skills.
The structure of the Worship Ministry should have clear lines of responsibility and communication. Here is a sample Flow Chart.
The Worship Leader is primarily responsible to the Pastor. He/She leads the three ministry teams. There should be on-going processes of preparation as well as regular rehearsals of the planned music. Rehearsal should be carefully planned so as not to waste the time of the vocal, instrumental, and technical teams. Chaotic rehearsals of partially planned songs are not healthy. As the Bible says, “God is not the author of confusion.”
The primary attitude of the Worship Team is one of humble servanthood. We are not stars. We are servants of the Lord and of His People. There is no right of succession, no process of waiting your turn to lead, as we must all collaborate gracefully. Only then will the Holy Spirit help us “make His praise glorious.”
Dr. Stephen Phifer