What are we looking for?

Post a Comment » Written on October 13th, 2012     
Filed under: Core Values, Culture, Leadership, Local Church
Today’s post is written by Geoff Twigg, Adjunct Professor at North Park University in Chicago. Geoff is a pastor, singer/songwriter, worship leader and ministry consultant, and serves the ECC as a member of the denomination’s Commission on Worship.

As I write, we’ve just witnessed the second debate (this time, between the two vice-presidential candidates) and there’s about a month to go before the election. Some of my Facebook friends are already posting comments about the nature of the discussion and begging for no more political commentary. Personally, I am not able to vote in the US, and I always keep any opinions I may have completely private.

However, it has struck me continually – having been in the US since 1994 and witnessed several elections – that the nature of the discussion is always rather shallow and spin-oriented. You might know that in the early days of American Federal politics, candidates would travel to small towns and cities, engaging in conversation and debate with local businessmen and farmers for hours at a time, and a full and frank exchange of views was witnessed by anyone in the marketplace.

I don’t think the exchange we saw this week or last was full or frank; I think it was a very well-orchestrated show of soundbites and rehearsed one-liners, where each candidate was tested on the skills of televisual appearance and suave presentation, snappy answers and subtle quips. Those are, apparently, the abilities the press, politicians and pundits want to see proven in order to gain popularity for their candidate. It seems those are the skills we need to see in our most senior ruler and the cohort that surrounds the Oval Office. I find that worrying.

So why am I mentioning this on a blog about worship and worship leading? (Come now, beloved reader, you must be used to my comments seeming to be irrelevant!) I’m writing about this stuff because when I look at the advertising for worship leader positions in the nation’s churches I am distressed to see how many are asking for a video clip along with a CV or resume. Even the ads which say ‘no theological education necessary’ or ‘musical literacy not required’ will ask for a headshot or (more frequently) video evidence that the person applying for the lead worshipper position “looks the part” (as we used to say).


Really, why do they want to see me or any other candidate leading a song before they consider whether I might lead their congregation in worship? I realize that, while “Man looks upon the outward appearance… God looks upon the heart”  (1 Samuel 16.7) and therefore what we look like to humans may matter in some ways. Nevertheless, I fear that this need for visual evidence of my acumen may be more associated with the perpetual narrowing of our cultural conscience. I’m worried that we take fewer things seriously and consider even each of those topics in less depth as time goes on.

Come on, people, reassure me. Tell me it’s not so, and that we have (perhaps just beneath the surface) a rich, considered and morally sound dimension that will undergird the church as we march on through these troubled days.

Or join me in prayer that we will find a way, in church and in our public debates, to ask the right, tough questions of one another and listen carefully to thoughtful answers.

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