The Million Dollar Question

About a year and a half ago, a well known Christian author and speaker came to my town for a speaking engagement. Through a series of circumstances I still can’t quite explain, I was asked to lead worship for this major event.

It was a bit surreal for me when I was essentially asked, “Hey, will you lead worship at the baseball stadium right before this famous author talks?” I said yes without hesitation, then I set about putting together a worship team for that night. My wife plays bass, and she always gets first crack at it, so that was a no-brainer. I asked a friend of mine who leads worship and performs a lot of folk music if he’d play the acoustic while I played the electric. All we needed was a drummer.

That was a problem. I was in a band at the time, and we even played some Christian venues, but the drummer had never made a profession of faith as far as I was aware, so I didn’t think it was the right thing to invite him to be on the team that night. So I talked to another friend who plays drums, and he accepted.

I was concerned that the drummer in my band would be upset when he found out I didn’t invite him to play, but as it turned out, he was out of town for that week anyway, so a potentially awkward conversation was avoided. But even so, I felt strongly that non-believers shouldn’t be leading worship, and I also felt strongly that playing on the worship team in any capacity is leading worship.

This is an issue that divides some people. It’s also the subject of a great post by Ronnie Martin at the Gospel Coalition. The post is called Should Unbelieving Musicians Lead Worship? Ronnie writes:

The conversation starts going clockwise around the conference table, which thankfully, I’m at the end of. One guy says “Yeah, I have a drummer who’s not a Christian, but he’s only playing drums, so I don’t think it’s a big deal”. Another guy says “As long as they’re not singing the words, I think it’s totally fine. I mean, it’s not as if they’re leading or anything.” The next guy agrees and adds, “You know what, I think it’s a great way to evangelize unbelievers and get them into church”.

“Is it?” I mumble incredulously to myself, as I nervously wipe a drop of caramel mocha racing nervously down my chin.

Read the whole post for Ronnie’s thoughts on the issue, backed up by scripture. It’s an excellent read, well worth your time.

PS: Oh, and for the record, the drummer I didn’t invite that night was baptized this past Sunday. And the drummer who filled in is now in another band with me. So happy endings all around! 🙂

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