Last week in two separate posts I addressed the issue of pastoral oversight in worship and music. I agreed with Michael Lawrence’s article that pastors should have oversight in these matters, but I also insisted that this means that pastors must be equipped to do so.
In response to those posts, I received an email from Steve Thomas, pastor of Huron Baptist Church in Flat Rock, Michigan, affirming what I had written. I has already known Pastor Thomas to be an excellent model of the kind of thing I was advocating, although as he mentioned to me, he didn’t receive training in music, liturgy, and the nature of worship in his ministry training, and thus he had to learn himself later. He said,
I cannot remember any class—either in college or seminary—specifically devoted to matters of worship. But we can all rise above our background, whether through formal training (such as the opportunities you suggest) or through the sheer hard work of personal study.
I have already posted some of what Pastor Thomas does to prepare his church musicians for upcoming services, and that still serves as a wonderful model.
But Pastor Thomas has recently taken an additional step to not only lead and prepare his church musicians but also inform and educate his entire congregation regarding why he plans and orders his services in the way that he does. I’d encourage you to take a look at this blog that he prepares for his congregation called “Worship at HBC.” Each week Pastor Thomas posts a new order of service (no later than Tuesday evening), and he encourages his people to review the order of service, using it in family worship by reading/singing the selected hymns, reading the sermon text and other Scriptures, and praying for the service. He also annotates various portions of the service so that the congregation will know what is going on.
For our church, I often send emails to the congregation on Mondays will the next week’s Scripture passages and hymns, but Pastor Thomas has gone the extra mile with this excellent resource and provided a wonderful example of how an educated pastor can plan, lead, and inform his congregation about their corporate worship.