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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