the baby and the bathwater

Leading Worship COE style
March 10, 2008, 7:02 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I was given a copy of a note that has been circulated by the Bishop of Gloucester to all the clergy in this diocese. It was entitled ‘Leading Worship’. I found it really interesting, and thought it was worth sharing. Of course you need to get into more traditional anglican mode, which is of a vicar, with an organist playing the hymns (maybe now and then with a music group playing some songs).

I think it may be worth looking at some of this again in future posts?

1. What is the task of the leader in worship?
– to work with the Spirit to bring the worshippers through Christ to the Father.
– to draw the liturgy into unity and the congregation into community
– to ensure that there is a sense of welcome and inclusion
– to be sensitive to those who may be lost, confused or on the margin

2. What is required of the leader of worship?
– prayerfulness
– openness
– a handful of confidence and a pinch of reticence- but just sometimes a pinch of confidence and a handful of reticence
– preparation – including familiarity with the text
– being at ease in one’s body
– serious intent – a desire to draw into the mystery of God
– sensitive antennae
– warmth, joy, more warmth, more joy
– love of the Lord and love of liturgy

3. Some first questions early in preparation
– for whom is this service principally intended
– what is the nature of this community
– in what season is it set
– what is it’s particular emphasis or theme?
– how long should it be
– how confident will the congregation be about it’s worship
– does it need high or low profile leadership

4. Some questions as the service order comes together
– does this service feel like a joyful celebration of the people of God
– will the service have a sense of wonder and reverence
– what will be the balance between my leadership and the input of others and between what an individual speaks and what the congregation says, sings or does
– will the elements of penetence, intercession, thanksgiving and praise be present
– will the gospel of Christ be proclaimed
– what will be the teaching element in the service
– what expression will there be of welcome and of fellowship

5. Some final questions
– are there any ‘stage directions’ i need to have given
– will questions about standing, kneeling, sitting be clear
– are there any questions about visibility, furnishings, sound that need attention
– where do I need to stand! and to sit
– will my one-liners help draw the worship together or destroy the flow?
– have I allowed time to pray before people arrive and to stand at the door and greet people before we begin

6. A rogue question
-how much of this applies in a very informal service, perhaps not even in a church


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

As a former Gloucester boy who, since leaving, has ‘joined’ the Anglican church and is now preparing to be ordained into it’s leadership ministry, I’m fascinated by this. Firstly, I would never have recognised it as having come from Gloucester Diocese, although my memory of that is poor, and secondly, I wouldn’t have immediately assumed it was an Anglican enterprise at all. How fascinatingly exciting!
For me, it’s an excellent summary of what a ‘worship leader’ should consider in preparing for every act of worship that they are involved in leading. I especially liked point 2.3!
I honestly can’t think of anything that’s missing, although I would, perhaps, wish to see a greater emphasis on responsiveness to the Spirit’s promptings, I think it’s excellent!
Please excuse my surprise!

Comment by ornamentalsheep

Didn’t know how else to ask this question – I’d like to post this on my own blog with some reflection on it. I will, of course, link to your blog. Is this okay? If not, please let me know!

Comment by ornamentalsheep


No worries. It’s in the public domain now anyway…and it would be great to get some other discussion on it.

I will be doing some writing on it myself as I found it very thought provoking!

It will be interesting to have your perspective on it as clergy!

Comment by Neil Bennetts

Thanks for this posting.
I will take your permission to Richard to be general and add it to my Liturgy site also.

Christ is Risen!


Comment by liturgy

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