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Should pastors be learned in worship and music?

In the first issue of The Artistic Theologian, Kevin Bauder asks the question: “Should pastors be learned in worship and music?” He argues in the affirmative by presenting a series of nine propositions:

  1. Pastors Lead by Example and Teaching
  2. Pastors Must Teach the Whole Faith
  3. The Faith Centers upon the Greatest Commandment
  4. The Great Commandment Is About Worship
  5. Worship Involves Affection
  6. Affection Grows from Imagination
  7. Affection Results in Expression
  8. Worshipful Expression Employs Music
  9. Worship Music Must Be True

In short, part of a pastor’s responsibility to lead and teach involves in the areas of worship and music. Bauder concludes,

Pastors bear a heavy responsibility. They oversee the flock of God (Acts 20:28). They participate in building God’s temple (1 Cor 3:10). They labor in God’s field, the church (1 Cor 3:8–9).

Pastors lead churches. Their tools of leadership are their example and their teaching. As they teach, they must neglect nothing of God’s counsel, but must communicate his entire purpose to their churches.

God’s ultimate design—his purpose in both creation and redemption—is to fill the moral universe with worshipers. The true worshipers of God are those who come to love him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. In order to love God so fully, they must imagine God rightly.

True worshipers must also express their worship ordinately. One of the principal mechanisms through which right responses are both shaped and expressed is hymnody, which combines the arts of music and poetry. Hymnody is a powerful tool of teaching and response.

All of these matters fall under the pastor’s purview. He cannot simply shrug off the responsibility by asking someone else to assume it. Since he is responsible for the church’s worship, and since the church’s worship is so greatly influenced by its music and poetry, the pastor must be sufficiently learned to make discerning judgments about these areas. A pastor who cannot judge these matters wisely will not be able to lead his flock to love God rightly. He will be like the preacher who never studied Greek or Hebrew—always forced to rely upon somebody else’s work, and always at the mercy of somebody else’s opinion. His ministry will always be secondary and derivative. He can hope only to be a faithful echo rather than a thoughtful voice. Useful as such echoes may be in some settings, pastors need to find their own voices. Let them be learned men: learned in Scripture, learned in theology, learned in worship, and learned in poetry and music.

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4 comments on “Should pastors be learned in worship and music?
  1. Excellent word about an area of critical need. Academic institutions cannot shoulder the full responsibility for making sure pastors grasp this need, but they can certainly make a huge difference over time.

  2. Scott Aniol says:

    Certainly true. It has to start in the churches, doesn”t it? And at young ages!

    • Scott, I believe at issue is whether the pastor “gets it” to whatever degree, and the question of whether he should be “learned” in worship and music. Kevin Bauder”s arguments are well taken, and the fact is that the local church generally follows the way the pastor leads. This is the case whether the pastor is, in fact, learned in worship and music, and thus comprehends the power of his own influence, such as those indicated in the nine propositions, or if the pastor views worship and music as little more than an opportunity to pitch the church as the cool place to be. To me, the stark challenge is how we influence the pastor to help him see the need to learn and grow in this area of worship and music ministry. For the pastor being molded through seminaries or other graduate training, this fomation can take shape. For others perhaps through conferences, books, and media resources. We need models of pastors who percieve these needs. Surely the Great Commandment demands this.

  3. Scott Aniol says:

    I agree!

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