Dear worship leader: before you tell us…

In July, I wrote an open letter to worship leaders. As I said, it was probably a bit of nitpicking. You can read it here (and see the worship leader’s response here). Well here I go again.

Sometimes you may preface a song with these words:

We’re going to sing this a bit differently from how you are used to singing it.

Here’s the thing. A fresh arrangement can bring new life to a song that has got tired and familiar. And a new melody can freshen up an old hymn: for example, Steve and Vicky Cook’s fresh melody for ‘Before the Throne of God above’ has probably allowed thousands of people to enjoy that hymn who would never otherwise have heard it. So please, let’s use our God-given creativity as much as possible and let’s keep out of the tired, lazy ruts of ‘how we’ve always sung this.’

But can I make a plea? Before you let us have your new arrangement, can you try to be sure that it’s going to help us rediscover what we are singing? Just because an arrangement showcases your lead guitarist’s new Fender does not necessarily mean that it adds to the congregational engagement in worship. It might even get in the way. Maybe it’s best kept for another occasion.

So before you tell us about the new arrangement that we are going to use, can you check why we’re using it?

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