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The 4 scopes of worship and worship leading

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If you don't carefully study worship, and more specific - worship leading, you might think "worship is worship is worship". However, if you are a worship leader you do need to be a bit more specific in your understanding of worship. Just as the saying 'medicine is medicine is medicine' is not completely accurate, esp. if you are a doctor, so too is the statement about worship.

There are generally 4 scopes of worship and/or worship leading. And for our purposes here, the scope reflect the area of influence or what groups are involved in the act of worshiping in those scopes. The purpose of breaking worship down into these scopes is due to the fact that each scope requires a different approach to leading and in many cases it requires different skills and even resources.

One thing

Although there are diffent skills required for each scope, there is one  prerequisites that applies to each and every scope - being a true worshipper. You can't lead what you don't experience. There have been many 'worship leaders' throughout history who have mastered all of the 'skills' of worship leading, and have developed great choirs, great orchestras, written beautiful music, and created great emotional experiences; however, they were missing the one aspect of worship leading that you can't just 'practice up on', the act of being reborn and actually engaging in the act of worship. If you cannot definitely and wholeheartedly affirm that you have had the experience of new birth and personally know the one whom you are worshipping, then seeking to develop any additional skills in this area are futile, and possibly even detrimental to your eternal well-being.

The Skills

There are a number of skills that go into being proficient at worship leading throughout the 4 scopes. Although the list could go on and on, here are several primary ones to consider...

  • good theology - it makes it much more difficult to lead in any of the scopes if you don't know what you believe
  • artistic skills - having skills and proficiencies within whatever 'art form' that you use to lead makes it MUCH easier to lead
  • leadership skills - leading worship is an act of leadership, each scope reqires different levels and types of leadership

In each of the scopes there are differing levels or aspects of these skills required to be an effective worship leader.

The Scopes

While there could be a valid point for breaking down worship leading into just 2 scopes (personal vs corporate), for those leading worship it becomes problematic due to the fact that many worship leaders then tend to focus on only the corporate aspects of worship and do not give the attention needed to personal worship - both in their own lives and in the lives of the people they are leading. There has also been a tendancy in many worship leaders to not understand the unique differences between personal and corporate worship, and the skills required for each. On the other end of the spectrum many worship leaders forget that those who are part of the 'corporate' worship experience also have a personal worship life and both corporate and personal worship need to be present and complementary. One doesn't replace the other and the two should not at battle for the individual. Because of this the following break-down of worship scopes is recommended:

  • personal - private, individual worship
  • family - immediate family
  • small group - small groups of non-family members; usually connected by some other connection
  • congregation - the  entire local church body (or large sub-groups of it)

Scopes and Skills

For each of the scopes there are different skills (or skill levels) required to be effective as a leader.

There is nothing miraculous about matching up proper skills to proper scopes. It is just basic understanding of what it takes to do a particular job. It is also not anti-biblical to pursue and develop skills related to worship leading. Throughout the Old Testament there are many examples of what appear to be mundane details about how to do even the simplest thing (like the several verses that specifically deal with what to do if your ox gores someone else's animal). Our God is a god of order. There are also many examples where the position of worship leadership is something that takes skill and effort - beyond just the 'feel' of the initial calling.

You must have both the calling (and by implication - rebirth) and the training/instruction to do the job of leading.

In the days/weeks to follow we will address specific, practical ways to learn those skills in each of these scopes.

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