Worship Leader Blog
I believe I am about to get hired at a local church, so I am going to share some of my thoughts on my job using this blog. I am keeping things anonymous because unfortunately I cannot trust most churches to remain professional about their internal processes. Of course, I won't share anything that is gossip, or that is without grace, etc. I will always say things that could only be taken the right way. But I figured I would chronicle my experiences here.
22 November 2021
Up to this point, negotiations have been going well. However, this church seems, to me at least, to have an unhealthy alliance between itself and Celebrate Recovery. Celebrate Recovery is a good thing, but I have noticed some things that appear to suggest a trend where someone is being made part of church leadership who is in charge of their Celebrate Recovery meetings. As well, I am being told that providing music for Celebrate Recovery will be part of my expectations here. I don't mind doing so when school permits, but I feel like this is not typical of most churches.
The fun part of dealing with people is that I don't think I can fully share the concerns I have about the church becoming entangled with Celebrate Recovery. I have been in other 12 step programs, and I recall lots of things in the 12 traditions that strongly suggest that 12 step programs do not get entangled with churches or other organizations. But Celebrate Recovery is billed as a church ministry.
As well, the format of Celebrate Recovery gives me concerns. I'm glad they have music and pot luck, but many aspects of Celebrate Recovery seem to mimic the church and not your traditional 12 step programs. Which makes me wonder: how many people attending CR will not attend church because they feel like they already get their needs met at CR? If we are Baptists, do we not believe that the Bible calls out the church itself, not para-church ministries, as being part of one's healthy spiritual life in Christ? I do not suggest CR would harm one's walk in Christ so much as I wonder if people may be inclined to think CR attendance checks the box for church attendance.
But because I have nothing to prove that CR and church becoming uncomfortably intertwined is bad, I cannot say it's wrong. And I can't tell the church that I can't do it on that basis. So because I want to get experience, I have really no other option. I have to accept this job if I want to gain experience. In my mind, I don't like this, because I envision myself staying at the same church forever, watching it grow and cultivating it, not staying long enough to gain experience and then leaving when a better position opens up. But the part about CR causes me concerns that almost approach the level of being reason to refuse to accept this job.
I had also asked that I be called and used as a worship pastor, not just worship leader. I want to help people spiritually (think pastor as in pastoral counseling). I hope I can get this. But my concerns about the unhealthy level of entanglement with CR mean that I will stop asking if I can be called and utilized as a worship pastor. At this point, I am inclined to just accept what they offer.
But I don't say this in a vacuum. I've seen people in para-church organizations take over the leadership of churches before. One recent example comes to mind with ACBC. I know of a church that would refuse to accept recovery-oriented programs like Celebrate Recovery and 12 steps because they had someone who was a member of ACBC on their leadership. Indeed, it's been 3 years and they still haven't hired a worship pastor. The person from ACBC is on their worship pastor search committee. I hope it's just a coincidence, but the overly-conservative Pharisaical nature of ACBC and its influence on its members to become like it, that's probably not a coincidence.
So I think the first fun part of trying to gain experience in worship leading is having to shut my mouth and not raise even a polite, reasonable question on some matters. Not because my concerns are invalid. Not because I'm antagonizing anyone. Not because I'm necessarily wrong. Mainly because apparently "going along to get along" is considered more godly. The Bible does say we should strive to keep the unity of the peace in the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:3), but God wrote this through Paul, who brought a very valid complaint to Peter in a public confrontation. So I think the problem is that some churches try so hard to "keep the unity" that dissenting opinions are silenced. This could result in people leaving over disagreements, for example.
Are we all sheep? You bet. I'm not any better than anyone else. I have my own problems. I like to argue, a tendency I am asking God to help me with. But I think the problem is more how things are handled.My mentor, a seasoned 20+ year worship pastor veteran, told me to just shut up and take the job. And I plan on doing this. But why should this become necessary? Your guess is as good as mine.