Christianity 201

August 25, 2010

Worship Leader Strategy

For a blog that was created to avoid the topical tangents of my other blog, I do, in fact, end up talking about worship many times.   Maybe that’s not a bad thing.   Even if you don’t sing or play an instrument, to what degree are you known as a ‘worshiper’?

The other day my mother mentioned to me in a phone call that even though her voice has aged, on a recent afternoon she wanted to sing a couple of songs to the Lord.  She got the concept that He was the audience.   She wanted to give Him that gift.

Doug Thorsvik writes the blog Strategic Song Selection which is read by other worship leaders.   What follows isn’t a regular post, but a special page he created in April ’09 on the subject of worship leaders having a well-planned strategy behind what they do.

As part of the Air Command and Staff College seminar I completed when I was in the Air Force, I took a correspondence elective course titled “On Vietnam”. The big idea I took away and the lesson that has stuck with me is: tactically the U.S. Military had little trouble winning individual battles; however, strategically the U.S. ended up losing the war. Following those tactical defeats, our opponents strategically delayed the war through regular peace table talks until the lack of popular support for the war in America ultimately forced an end.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the military terms tactical and strategic here are brief definitions and examples:
Tactical: 3. of or pertaining to a maneuver or plan of action designed as an expedient toward gaining a desired end or temporary advantage. (Dictionary.com) Example: Desserts and junk food stimulate the taste buds with fleeting satisfaction.
Strategic: 4. Military. a. intended to render the enemy incapable of making war, as by the destruction of materials, factories, etc.: a strategic bombing mission. (Dictionary.com) Example: A balanced and nutritious diet makes good overall health and well being possible.

I wonder . . .

  • Does our approach to planning and choosing songs for individual worship services emphasize the tactical at the expense of the strategic?
  • Are we winning the battles, individual engaging church worship experiences, but losing the war, growing worshippers of depth, substance, and endurance?
  • Do we choose songs to serve believers at all times and for a lifetime, or is our concern limited to individual Sunday worship services?

Paul uses military concepts in Ephesians 6:10-18 as he talks about the armor of God. The passage is rich with potential applications using songs. For example, when he says: “18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests,” I would say strategic use of great prayer songs can help prepare believers to do just that.

What exactly does strategic song planning look like? A starting point is recognizing the difference between being tactical and strategic. It’s easy for the tyranny of the urgent (the next set list) to overshadow being strategic (taking a longer view).

Read more at Strategic Song Selection