Q & R: A Worship Leader asks …

Here’s the Q:

I know you probably won’t respond to this but just wanted to thank you immensely for your work and especially your latest book Faith After Doubt. It has brought me so much encouragement and put words to the experience that I have lived so beautifully. Just wanted to throw out a question.  Do you think it is possible to do Harmony work in a Simplicity/Complexity Church setting?

I love my job as a worship leader and my wife loves her job as a youth director but there are certainly times where the duality of the words I’m singing in worship rub against my yearning for harmony among all faiths in the name of love. Working with students has been super rewarding for my wife and she has found ways to teach a harmony message as the undertow or current of our ministry while teaching bible stories that have been historically taught through the lens of simplicity or complexity..

I hope any of that makes sense..

I love the idea of not judging those in simplicity but can I actually serve them from a place of harmony and do it with integrity..?

I’m sure you get a lot of rambling emails so you can add this to that pile.

Thanks again for your work Brian!!

Thanks for your note. It’s interesting that you ask about worship leaders and youth pastors. Many worship pastors are artists – attuned to beauty, which leads them more quickly, I think, into stages 3 and 4, perplexity and harmony. Similarly, youth pastors are working with adolescents who – many of them – are entering stage 2 and moving toward stage 3, complexity and perplexity. Meanwhile, their parents are often trying desperately to keep them under  control in stage 1, simplicity.

I think people in simplicity and complexity profoundly need teachers and leaders who are in harmony. Those leaders need to understand their people — to accept them where they are, to speak to them in the framework they can understand, but to gently and creatively lead them forward.

For a worship leader, you can reflect this in the way you pray, in who you quote, and in the songs you choose and don’t choose. Sometimes, it will mean that you rewrite some lyrics. Sometimes, it will mean you need to compose some new songs. You’ll find great help in finding new music that will invite your people forward here: https://convergencemp.com/. And you should know of the good work of Aaron Niequist, available here: https://theeternalcurrentpodcast.libsyn.com/ and https://www.anewliturgy.com/.

As for youth pastors, there’s a saying I learned in youth ministry: “More is caught than taught.” I think youth ministers have a profound influence simply by being an example, at close range — elbow to elbow — of a deeper and wider approach to life and faith. Several youth pastors have taught the four stages to their youth groups, to give them an idea of the work that needs to be done in each stage.

Sometimes, senior pastors or boards want to run a tight, stage one ship. Where that’s the case, eventually you’ll run into trouble, which should be expected and handled graciously when it comes. But in the meantime, you can a lot of good. In many churches, senior pastors and boards are eager to move forward … and having forward-leaning worship leaders and youth leaders can be key into making lasting change.

The key, as in everything, is to always act in love. God bless you in your good work!

For folks interested in Faith After Doubt – you’ll find it here.