Worship Leader Roundtable Reflections

  Each Fall for the past eleven years I have conducted roundtables for worship pastors/music ministers across our great state.  I have come to look forward with great anticipation to these gatherings of fellow musician – ministers for many reasons.  The fellowship is always encouraging, and every year it seems I see some new faces – some who are new to our state, and some who have just been unable to participate in past days. It is just good to gather again with familiar faces and to welcome new friends to this sweet fellowship that is Tennessee Baptist Church Music and Worship Leaders.  It is also beneficial to share with one another those experiences of blessing and challenge that take place in our individual ministries.  My prayer is that this time spent together encourages each participant through understanding of that common bond, as well as through the gain of new insights, new resources, new ideas, and the reminders of foundational truth upon which we build our ministries of worship leadership.


This year’s focus of discussion and sharing was congregational song with a preliminary invitation for those gathering to share a song or two that is meaningful in their congregation’s worship, and to tell why they believe those songs are effective in that regard.  Since I attended all of the roundtables I was interested in both the variety of songs and in the repetition of certain songs and composers.  While the day of walking into most any Baptist church and expecting worship singing to be about the same is long gone, I was both interested and encouraged that there are common expressions, old and new, among our churches.  We discovered that we are using a variety of hymnals in those churches where hymnals are still used, and that we are using several various resources for new materials, whether these are supplement to the hymnals or the sole source for those who project words on a screen.  Next week I will actually send the list of songs and resources mentioned in these roundtables – (NOTE: if you were unable to attend, but would like to respond with a couple of songs that are particularly meaningful to your congregation’s worship, that they sing well, feel free to reply and I will add them to the list).  For now, however, I want to simply list for you some of the characteristics that we noted in the songs mentioned in the roundtable gatherings.




Carries the message of hope

Doctrinally sound

Theologically rich

Good poetry

Scripture references

Simple – singable

Quickly learned

Dramatic contrasts

Can become their own expression

Includes the big picture

Lets the congregation tell its story – express their hope

Written for the congregation rather than platform personnel

Dynamic refrain



Really says something

Facing the storms


Fits the moment


Applicable to Christian season – year

Strong melody

Can be adapted to various styles

Somehow captures what we are wanting to express



It should be obvious in reading this list that some of these characteristics contrast with others to some extent, and others are similar, though stated in different ways.  Of course that is a reflection of both various congregations represented and various songs listed from each.  We were reminded through these gatherings of some balances that we, as worship pastors, are called upon to bring to our people:


Trinitarian emphasis – Father, Son, Spirit

Singing to God – singing about God

Singing to one another – singing with one another

Psalms, hymns, spiritual songs

Familiar – new

Celebration – Lament – comfort

Ministry to all generations

Encouragement – prophetic challenge

Spiritual formation

Freedom of expression – guided thought

Individual – corporate expressions


I was grateful, though not really surprised, at the depth of reflection among our worship pastors, and the commitment to give of their best.  I believe there was a strengthened realization of the challenge that is congregational leadership in singing.  Our discussions took us from the highly practical issues of accompaniments, distribution of music, and technical issues to the profound theological implications of worshiping in the presence of the cloud of witnesses and heavenly beings as we sing.  There was plenty of laughter and a few moments of silent pause as these ministers conveyed special moments of ministry with the congregations they love and serve.


I am so grateful for the spirit among our worship leaders!  It is surely a gift of the Holy Spirit.


Blessed again,


Explore posts in the same categories: Choir Ministry, Church Music, Congregational Singing, Leading Worship, Music Ministry, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Worship Leader Relationships, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship theology

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