Non-communicant member leading praise

Discussion in 'Worship' started by 71CH, Apr 13, 2017.

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  1. 71CH

    71CH Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi everyone,

    Would you allow a non-communicant member of your church to be on the Sunday morning praise team? For example, a middle school student who is not yet a communicant member of the church, but Lord willing will be in a future date. Why or why not?

  2. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    slightly tongue-in-cheek... What exactly is a "praise team?"

    There are certain individuals--ordained men--who are tasked by heaven with the high and holy duty of "leading praise," along with leading God's people in the rest of their worship endeavor: prayer, Word and Sacrament, etc. Leading in worship is a function flowing from the act of ordination. It is "ministerial," and we have officers of the church for that purpose.

    What I'm getting at is a criticism of the idea, principles, and language already present and lying behind the thread title and question asked.

    In other words, for the congregation to be "led" in some aspect of worship by those who are unordained (and, in the case of women, unordainable) is already challenging the historic Reformed and Presbyterian understanding of everything that should be happening in the formal summons of the congregation for a stated worship service--between the Call, and the Benediction that dismisses them.

    So, what extra difference does it make if a non-communicant member is employed in the work of leading, to which few (or perhaps none) of the present leaders are called? As I read the situation, it is quibbling over matters that are on the other side of a divide that marks a departure from the norm.
  3. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Is the norm in the OPC to not have such praise teams, unlike the PCA to which I have been exposed and hear about, which norm is to have a "praise team".
  4. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I can't say what you will find in this or that OPC, though I might guess we're a bit more staid on average than the PCA. I think we've been gently mocked by this or that PCA-group over this reputation of ours. <shrug>
  5. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    I guess my church is not a normal PCA church; and I consider that a good thing, a compliment, a bonus, a plus, a blessing, or however you want to put it.
  6. Joshua

    Joshua pilgrim

    We have men, women, teenagers, children, toddlers, and infants on our praise team every Lord's Day. The Pastor usually leads it.
  7. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member


    Please update your signature per the rules at the Signature Requirements link in my sig below so that we may properly address you in the future.
  8. jwithnell

    jwithnell Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I suspect in most Presbyterian circles, a term and function like praise team has been uncritically adopted from broader, non-confessional circles. The whole congregation comprises any "praise team" under the direction of the elders.
  9. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Not so tongue in cheek - what is a "praise team"? - Is it the rock band with lead and backup singers? What is the role of the child in the "praise team" - if it is banging on the drums or serving as a backup singer, I'll be the liberal here and say that I don't see the problem with that. (I understand that some here would have problems with the 'drums' part, but that isn't the issue in this thread. Plenty of other threads on that issue).

    As a side issue, it might be that the original poster would find better options in Smyrna, or Lost Mountain, or a little further down the road in Dallas.
  10. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

    It depends on what is meant by which part of the praise they're leading. Ideally, prayer, reading of Scripture, and preaching are done by the pastor or another officer, but it's possible that a congregation wouldn't have an officer who is skilled at, for example, leading in singing. I think it would be okay to have even a non-communicant member lead in singing, as long as someone else is announcing/providing commentary about the song and they are just starting/carrying the singing. However, you wouldn't want to mislead anyone into thinking they're in authority in doing so. Having them start from the midst of the congregation or the back with a strong voice could help avoid any miscommunication.
  11. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I agree that a "worship leader" should be a person fit for spiritual leadership and appointed to that task. A non-communicant member would not qualify.

    But... I suspect you are not asking about a leader. Rather, there are people who assist the leader and congregation by providing musical accompaniment, or passing out song sheets, or running a projector, etc. Now it gets trickier. Does the church clearly distinguish between those who are worship leaders and those who may have a particular role in serving the church's worship time but are not leaders?

    As long as the church has been careful to make a clear distinction between worship leadership and just helping out with a necessary function (as an usher would, maybe), I think it's good to get young people involved. The problem is that many churches, even if they don't intend to, unwisely make everyone with a special role in the music look and feel like a leader by placing them up front like a celebrity on stage.

    I would not want to subject a middle school student to the temptations that come with this. Make certain that if this student serves, it does not happen in a way that includes any sense of leadership or celebrity. If that's hard to do given the way your church treats its praise band, protect the student by saying no.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2017
  12. jwithnell

    jwithnell Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Why does a congregation need a leader in singing? Unless you're talking about someone selecting the tune for a psalter selection, then getting everyone started from the same pitch. If you mean someone up front waving his (often her) arms around, I just don't get it.
  13. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Senior

    Why is a middle schooler leading in singing in a church?

    I'd say no.
  14. Gforce9

    Gforce9 Puritan Board Junior

    The most excellent thing I have read in awhile.....thanks, Rev. Buchanan! May our ministers faithfully lead us to the Throne of Grace each and every Lord's Day.......
  15. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Maybe he's the only one in the building that can carry a tune?

    But I don't think we've established that he's leading the singing. My question (and Jake's) about what the praise team does hasn't been answered.
  16. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Junior

    You seem to be assuming an EP position - which I don't think applies to the OP's situation.
  17. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

    I think it'd be the same for hymns or other songs even though she said Psalter selection. I'd even say from my experience that it can be helpful to have a strong voice leading even with accompaniment, but singing a capella without someone carrying the singing can be... painful.
  18. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Junior

    I was noting that it is far more common to have "someone up front waving his (often her) arms around" - or even more common, to have the aforementioned"praise team" facing the "audience" and singing, thereby "leading" the congregation to join in... I am thinking that the latter (i.e., Edward's "rock band") is the setting considered in the OP.
  19. jwithnell

    jwithnell Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Nope; it's just the best reason I could think of for such a position.
  20. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    In one PCA church that I am acquainted with, they had the pleasure of receiving new members into the congregation. Imagine the surprise when these new members were the people who not only have been leading worship for a long time, but actually choosing the songs sung by the congregation each Lord's Day. I am flabbergasted by this. Having lay leaders in public worship is problematic enough, I can't imagine how avowedly confessional Presbyterians could not see any issues with that. The congregation in question, as far as I understand it, sees itself as on the "conservative" side of the PCA as well.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2017
  21. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Assuming the claim is true, conservative doesn't automatically mean confessional and reformed.
  22. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Based ONLY on the information presented, I don't understand your concerns. If they were believers who were transferring membership, I don't see any problems with them getting involved in the church in areas where they are competent prior to completing a new members class and joining.

    If you have issues with the songs chosen, that would be a separate issue, independent with the membership one.

    And now let me tell you a real shocker. We've had men preach from the pulpit that are not only not associated with the local congregation; they aren't even a member of North Texas Presbytery. Your same arguments ought to apply.
  23. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    If visiting preachers are ordained to the ministry by a confessional church and approved by the session it's an entirely different situation. I have no problem if a visiting pastor is consulted over the Lord's Day liturgy and leads in singing.

    Perhaps I can clarify my concerns. My point about choosing songs is not particularly about the choices themselves. I'm EP but the PCA has more then two centuries of believing otherwise and I don't expect that to change. However, if the "singing of psalms [or songs] with grace in the heart" is a public means of grace, then it ought to be ministered by church officers. Singing has a teaching and admonishing function (Col 3:16), something usually reserved for church officers when it relates to public worship. Even granting that the "worship leader" is not a minister of this means (despite it often being called a ministry) but merely an aid, it's hard for me to see how choosing the songs and thus setting the liturgy and the content of that teaching and admonishing is not a ministerial function. It's not too different from having a visitor to the congregation choose the text for the pastor to preach on. Wouldn't this be more appropriate for the ones who were ordained by the church, before God, for the care, teaching, and oversight of the congregation?

    We can also look at it from an accountability point of view. Surely few things in the church are as great a responsibility as managing that which occurs in public worship. If this lay leader was to sin or err grievously in the performance of their duties, who would they be responsible to? As non-members, they aren't actually answerable to the session, but can merely be dismissed in a rather business-like fashion. Money-changers in the temple.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2017
  24. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    I'm not sure I'm ready to concede that point, subject to further edification from my betters here.

    I've tended to consider the means of grace as being hearing the word and hearing it preached, the sacraments, and prayer.
  25. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    My understanding is that it has usually been viewed as a part of the ministry of the word (WCF 21.5) rather than a separate means in and of itself. If it is not a means of grace, what would you say that it is? Surely singing is meant to be edifying to the congregation, no?

    Here's the relevant part of the WLC:

    Is it an ordinance? Well WCF 21 would suggest that its part of the ministry of the Word as such, but more particularly the DPW would suggest that it was understood as an ordinance particularly even while being a part of the overall ministry of the Word:

  26. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I don't agree with a praise team. Our pastor is the leader. We have a woman who stands on the side of the room and sings. She has a strong voice and helps carry the tune especially if we sing a song we don't know, but she doesn't lead the songs.
  27. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    No, it is to worship God.

    I don't see anything in there about singing.

    WCF 21 is about worship of God.

    Singing? BCO 50-4 lists it as such.

    Not a document of the PCA, although useful as to the traditions of the church.
  28. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    Ok, let me make an attempt to break my understanding down more clearly.

    Those two purposes quite obviously are not opposed to each other. worshipping God strengthens our own faith. It is rather strange to posit one to the exclusion of the other. Again, Col 3:16 and, of course, many places in the Psalms themselves indicate that singing also edifies us. The chief end of all the ordinances is to bring glory to God even as they are means of grace for us.

    True, I posted that to show Westminster's understanding of the means of grace and then cross reference it with WCF 21. It is not meant to be exhaustive since it says "all his ordinances; especially..." and then WCF21 indicates that reading, hearing, preaching, and singing are comprehended under the ministry of the Word.

    Are you engaging with me in good faith here? This is enumerating the parts of the ordinary worship of God, i.e. the ordinances of God for worship. You say that singing is worship but not a means of edifying the the body. WCF 21 lists the preaching of the word and the sacraments as parts of worship. Are they not means of edifying the body either? WLC 154 notes that these ordinances are the ordinary means of grace. ("The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to his church the benefits of his mediation, are all his ordinances").

    If so then it falls under WLC 154 quoted above, which indicates that all the ordinances are means of grace.

    Of course not, but it was composed by the Assembly alongside the Standards and as such is useful for exegeting the original meaning of the Standards to prevent us from drifting into subjective and convenient interpretations.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2017
  29. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    In his work on the Christian Sabbath, Nicholas Bownd does not refer to psalm singing specifically as a means of grace in his section on psalm singing, but he could have since he includes as means things like meditation and conference. Bownd learned this pastoral theology from his father in law Richard Greenham. "The pastoral theology taught by Richard Greenham in his parish seminary (also maintained by Nicholas Bownd his stepson) revolved around the means of grace.[1] The primary means which are mentioned throughout Greenham’s Works are preaching, the administration of the sacraments and prayer, to which are added in his catechism, discipline and affliction (which bring together “exercises for coping with adversity: self-examination, prayer, fasting, repentance, reading of the Word, and meditation on the future life”).[2] Another means for Greenham is meditation, which Bownd champions at length and to which he added conferencing (Christians conferring with one another to discuss the faith).[3] And the main thing—the “great means of the means”—whereby all these means of grace are made available to the people of God is the weekly gatherings on the Christian Sabbath or Lord’s Day.[4]
    [1] John H. Primus, Richard Greenham, 127, 129.
    [2] Ibid., 147.
    [3] Ibid., 147–149. Bownd, True Doctrine of the Sabbath (1606) 383–418, critical text (Naphtali Press, forthcoming) 370–396.
    [4] Richard Greenham, 150–177.
  30. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    While it's difficult to find many explicit statements that singing is a means of grace in the older writers, when you read of the benefit of singing psalms in the congregation, whether in Thomas Ford, John Cotton, Nathaniel Holmes, Cuthbert Sydenham, the prefaces to the Genevan or Scottish Psalters, etc, it's hard to see it as anything but that in conception. If it is a gospel ordinance which instructs, admonishes by the Word and lifts our voices to God in thanksgiving and supplication as prayers, both of which being acknowledged means of grace, how can it not be so also?

    Glen Clary actually preached a whole sermon on singing the Psalms (and by extension hymns if you are not EP) as a means of grace:
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2017
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