A Response to Mark Gungor


Last week a friend of mine shared Mark Gungor’s post titled Attention All Worship Leaders. Musicians and Singers.  In it, Gungor identifies four “big problems when it comes to music” in the church today.  While I agree with some of what he says in the post, I believe he’s completely off base in a major way when he talks in big terms about the role of music leaders in the church.  Some of what he says is, well, just down-right disheartening and, to be quite honest, I’m glad I don’t attend his church – and if I did, I think after reading this post I would have to seriously reconsider whether I did or not.

My major disagreement with him starts fifth paragraph of his second problem.  He writes,

In my church, musicians are on the stage for one reason: They can sing or they can play—period.  They are not pastors, apostles, prophets, evangelists or teachers—they are musicians. They hold no special status like that of an elder or deacon. Quite frankly, their spiritual status is of little matter and in some cases, not required at all.  We don’t put the musicians on our platform through a spiritual filter anymore than we would ask that of the construction workers who built the building.    We do not hire a construction worker based on the condition of his heart, but on the status of his skill.  So it is with our musicians. (emphasis mine)

I can not disagree with him more.  The spiritual status of the musicians on his stage are of primary importance.  Gugnor’s position here reflects a key misunderstanding of the role of music in worship.  Let’s assume for a second that everything is about the music.  If that’s the case, then Gungor’s position is perfectly defensible and even understandable.  If what you are looking for is people to lead and perform music, then, yes, find the best musicians you can find regardless of their character.

But, if you are looking for worship leaders to lead people then character is the utmost importance!  Here’s the point: worship leaders are not called to lead musicthey are called to lead people.  Now that doesn’t mean they have to have “special status like that of an elder or deacon,” nor do they have to be “priests of worship” or have a special “anointing” or “power”.  What they do need to understand, though, is how to relate to people.

If you think I’m misunderstanding him, read these excerpts from his post:

It is always ideal and preferable to have a committed believer lead the music; one who understands who God is and what it is we are trying to do.  But at the end of the day they are up there for one overwhelming reason: They have musical skill….Again, our singers and musicians are up there because they can sing or play—period, not because they have some unique Old Testament version of an “anointing”. (emphasis mine)

Don’t misunderstand me – I’m not suggesting that you can put someone on stage with no musical skill who has a deep walk with the Lord, because both are needed.  What I am saying, though, is that musical skill does not trump one’s walk with the Lord or their leadership ability (though one’s walk with the Lord should certainly trump musical skill, contrary to what Gungor says).

While he’s got plenty of other statements in his blog post that I disagree with, my point here is not to go line-by-line in rebuttal of his position.  I will ask this final question, though, and I’d honestly love to hear (or read) the answer…  Gungor writes,

[C]onsider this: Many (if not most) of the musicians you hear on Christian recordings are not believers in Jesus at all.  Some of them, frankly, are quite accomplished heathens and pagans (I know—I’ve met them).  You think when you hear that big string section on your favorite worship CD that they are all committed followers of Christ?  Hardly.

I’d like to know who he’s talking about here – which artists that I listen to are accomplished “heathens and pagans?”  I’d honestly like to know.  This is not something you can say without actually backing it up with some truth.  And I’m curious, has Gungor called them out on their “heathen and pagan” practices?  Does he pray for them?  Has he challenged them?  Has he brought other believers in to hold these people accountable since due to their hypocrisy they will actually suffer even more in Hell than if they just lived in open rebellion to God?

Again, Gungor’s position is, at it’s heart, a basic misunderstanding of the role of the worship leader in the church.  If leaders are called to lead music then, yes, he’s spot-on in his arguments.  But leaders are called to lead more than music.  They are called to lead people.  And that, Mr. Gungor, is a completely different role than the one you apparently desire at your church.

If you’re looking for proper perspective on the role of the worship leader, I would recommend avoiding Gungor’s post and instead reading the post entitled 4 Characteristics of Great Worship Leaders by Laura Singleton.

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Book Review: Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope by Trevin Wax


Counterfeit Gospels is one of those books every Christian leader – and every Christian should put on their “required reading list”.  It pulls no punches and will probably convict (offend?) everyone who reads it at some point within its pages.  Trevin Wax tackles one of the most important questions the Church is struggle with today: namely, “What does it mean to be a Christian?”  The heart of Christianity is the Gospel, but there is so much uncertainty and disagreement among Christians leaders (and Christians in general) over what “the gospel” is, it leads to disagreement over what it means to be a Christian.

Wax identifies a three-pronged approach to understanding and sharing the gospel: The Gospel Story, The Gospel Announcement, and The Gospel Community.  He identifies six different counterfeits in this book: The Therapeutic, The Jugmentless, The Moralistic, The Quietist, The Activist, and the Churchless Gospels, first identifying what the real Gospel is and then disarming each of these counterfeits.  I’ll be honest to tell you I was convicted during my reading of this book that I’ve fallen sway to varying degrees to some of these counterfeits, and I believe any honest believer would find themselves hard pressed not not find themselves in the same boat.  If you’re comfortable in your understanding of The Gospel and how you live your Christian life then this book probably isn’t for you, but if you want to honestly examine whether your beliefs measure up against the truths of Scripture then take the time to read this book and contemplate the truth found within its pages.  This is a definite 5/5 stars.

Book Review: The Principle of the Path by Andy Stanley


There are very few books I’ve read which I would consider live changing.  Outside of the Bible, there are only two or three books which I can say have had such an impact on my life I can recall the specific title of the book, the author, and how it’s impacted me.  Granted, there are dozens of books which have influenced my thought processes and beliefs, but books that I can say impacted the direction of my life?  Those are few and far between.

The Principle of the Path is a book which certainly has the potential be added to my short list.  I say “potential” because its impact can only be measured over time, so I won’t add it to the list just yet – but give me a a year or so and I think it has a very good chance of being on it.  This is the first book I’ve ever read by Andy Stanley, but hopefully it will not be the last.  His writing style and humor remind me of John Ortberg’s – one of my favorite authors (in fact, at times I found myself thinking I was reading the latest Ortberg book instead of some other author!)  I found the book so captivating I actually read it in one 24 hour period (don’t get too impressed by that, it’s less than 180 pages long, and it took me less than 3 hours to read the whole thing).

Here’s the basic thesis of the book: it is our direction not our intentions, that determines our destination.  And it is our attention that determines our direction.  Simple enough, really, and something I’ve thought about plenty of times.  Stanley argues that many (actually, most) people are in situations in their lives that they never intended to be in not because of bad luck but because of bad planning (at times I felt like was writing advice written by my father!)  He spends the first few chapters of the book setting out his argument for why this is the case, and then the rest of the book detailing how to apply it to our lives.

Here are two quotes that sum everything up pretty well: “We don’t drift in good directions.  We discipline and prioritize ourselves there.” (p150) and “Attention determines direction, and directions determines destination.” (p153)  His position, in the end, is sound, and I find myself relating to and understanding it fully.  Too often we blame our situation(s) in life on our circumstances, forgetting that our choices led to our circumstances in the first place!   Stanley encourages us to set down a course to guide our choices so we can better control our destinations.  Stanley does a great job establishing that the Principle of the Path is not a law which can be violated/broken  but is something that is at work whether we acknowledge it or not – and we can harness it for our good or bad.

This is a book I highly recommend reading, and one that, if you read in partnership with Search for Significance by Robert McGee, would help you understand to a greater degree yourself (including your thought process, beliefs, struggles, failures, triumphs, and even fears).  A solid 5/5 stars.

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