Is the Church Treasurer Really the "Worship Pastor"?
Why word choice may undermine tithing and other acts of worship.

Editor's Note: Dan Kimball originally wrote this piece for his blogVintage Faith. He allowed us to publish an edited version here as a guest post:

I have become very aware of the power of words—and the power of defining words. In the Christian culture we have created, I don't believe we can ever assume we mean the same thing anymore when we say terms like "gospel," "Jesus," "salvation," "inspired," "evangelical," "evangelism," "missional," and so on. I have learned (sometimes the hard way) that you need to ask someone their definitions of terms with specific meanings to understand how theirs may differ from yours.

One of these terms is "worship."

I question how we have overwhelmingly defined "worship" to primarily mean music and singing, often to the detriment of other acts of worship, such as giving.

If you were to ask most teenagers and young adults what comes to their minds when they hear the word "worship," it's likely singing. We have pretty much defined worship this way to them over the past 20 years. Now, it's true that we worship when we sing. But that is only one aspect of worship. We have subtly taught a reductionist view of worship, limiting it primarily to music and singing as what defines the word and practice.

It's easy to understand why. What do we call the person in a church who leads the band or singing? It is normally the "worship pastor" or "worship leader." When our music leaders say, "Let's now worship," that is when the singing begins. Christian albums are called Best of Worship or Worship Greatest Hits, reinforcing the idea that music is the primary—or even only—form of worship. I just read on a Facebook post how a group was bringing in a guest to "lead worship" and, of course, this person was a musician. We constantly reinforce this notion of worship as singing by our constant and casual association of the term with music and singing.

When we think of Sunday gatherings of the church and when worship happens, we generally do not think of the teaching or the sacrifice of people who are worshiping by volunteering time in places like the children's ministry. When a sermon begins or when the offering is received, we rarely say, "Let's now worship," like we do when the singing starts.

I recently attended a college-age gathering, and after the time of musical worship ended (I personally try to always say "musical worship" ), a person stood at the front to announce it was time for the offering. The person referenced it as a time of sacrifice by giving finances as an act of worship. The word sacrifice really stood out to me as being defined with worship.

There are times when "worship" occurs without any actual physical sacrifice, but when you study the whole of the Bible, you will see that worship often involves the sacrifice of something. After the first 11 chapters of Romans teach on the act of Jesus and His sacrifice for us, Romans 12:1-2 tells us to "offer our bodies as living sacrifices."

This kind of sacrifice includes all areas of our lives, and it is costly. For instance, we may want something, but because it may be sinful, we choose to refrain from it, aligning our ways to God's ways instead.

The Old Testament was filled with times of coming to worship and sacrificing something. Generally, it involved something costly to the worshiper (such as animals or grains) to show a valuable sacrifice offered back to God, who owns everything anyway. We read in 2 Samuel 24:24 "I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing."

Here's what is intriguing: We often primarily define worship as singing, but singing doesn't cost us too much in terms of sacrifice. We mentally and emotionally bring ascent to our thoughts as we sing and focus on God. But are we really sacrificing something? I may be wrong, but it seems pretty easy to come into a room, sit, and then "worship" by singing.

I am glad we have times of worship in church involving singing. We can worship in major ways as we sing. But it is probably one of the least sacrificial–or costly–ways we do worship.

When we begin to think of worship in a sacrificial sense, what does that look like in today's world? Two of the most sacrificial things seem to be our time and, most of all, our finances.

At the college-age gathering I attended, I watched the bags passed around for the offering. Maybe one out of every twenty people put anything at all in the offering bags. I fully understand that people give online, and people may give bi-weekly or monthly, so this isn't an accurate representation of how much actually was given that morning. Still, it's interesting to watch these differing dynamics play out: It is easy for us to worship God when all that is required is singing a few songs. It is difficult for us to worship God by giving financially or giving up some of our precious time.

This leads me back to why we use the title of "worship pastor" or "worship leader" to designate the person who leads an area of worship that doesn't cost us too much.

Why don't we switch the title to the person who leads or oversees an area that people generally sacrifice the most–finances? That's usually the church treasurer. Isn't that person the one who truly oversees the most sacrificial worship of the people of the church?

I raise the question somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but I am curious—does anyone else think we've unintentionally reduced the power and true meaning of the word "worship" by generally assigning the title to the person who leads the music?

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations

Comments

Displaying 1–8 of 8 comments

Emily

December 01, 2011  12:17pm

I enjoyed this article, mainly because I am our church bookkeeper/accountant person (whatever you want to call it) and I have always had a hard time believing that what I do is actually ministry. Most of the time I am locked away in my office doing spending reports while the other staff are praying, practicing guitar, working on the weekly teachings, etc. My usual human interaction is when either a) the senior pastor needs me or b) I made a mistake on something (or c....someone needs help with their computer haha). So reading an article like this lifts my spirits a bit. I showed our worship pastor, who is wonderful by the way, this article, and he agrees with most of it. Not sure what else to say...really enjoyed it thanks.

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Chuck

November 04, 2011  8:34am

Dan, I am one who has grieved over how we have indeed reduced worship to music. IMO the CCM industry has contributed to this misunderstanding in a big way by marketing their music as "worship music." As such, over time the words "worship" and "music" have become virtually synonymous. Now we have "worship pastors" and "worship leaders." Nashville and Brentwood should not define worship to the church. What we need is to rediscover a proper theology of worship.

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Steve

November 01, 2011  7:51pm

Derek - trained at a "good and faithful seminary"? you are joking, right? the seminaries of today hardly represent the training received by NT Evangelists - they are more like the Pharisees who are given much knowledge, but the primary focus is not on training in love and righteousness! "Knowledge puffs up but love builds up!"

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Derek Roberts

November 01, 2011  1:46pm

I find it disappointing that many evangelicals have diminished the understanding of the Pastoral Office and doll out the term to anyone other than those who have been duly called and ordained to be Servants of the Word, which historically (and with good, Biblical reason) are those men who are trained for three to four years at a good and faithful seminary and then called to be the Pastor of a church with the duties of publicly preaching the Gospel and giving out the Sacraments. Such assigning the term "pastor" to "worship leaders" and "treasurers" only confuses people in the pew and diminishes the unique gift of what it means to be a Pastor / under-shepherd. Every congregation should basically have an understanding that it has only one Pastor / Pastoral Office (which is fulfilled only by those God prepared and sent to them for the unique duties of properly dividing the Word of Truth and bearing witness to the mystery of our faith in good conscience, etc. – see the Pastoral epistles).

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Barbara

November 01, 2011  12:30pm

I actually agree with you on this article. When we worship it is a sacrifice, at our Church our time for offering is Worship in Giving. This is a time for the church to give a sacrificial offering to the Kingdom, to help them understand it is not just in songs as most of us were taught. When we do worship our Father we should give up self and worship Him in spirit and in truth...John 4:21-24

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Gary Tamming

November 01, 2011  11:22am

I tend to agree with this emphasis. For years, just before the offering, our church always tells visitors that the plate is for members and regular attenders and that they should feel free to let is pass by. I have always balked at this. Why not say that same about prayer, confession, singing, etc. Why is our financial worship isolated in this way? I do understand the leadership is trying to distance themsleves from churches/preachers that have misused this part of worship. Nevertheless, I have always felt it an odd way to transition into our financial act of worship and puts this part of the worship in a different category.

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Joseph Kawele

November 01, 2011  10:12am

Yes, the modern church of today is likely to face confusions because of increased titles in the church contrary to those that the Lord Jesus Christ put therein is resulting in such confusions. Every christian has the freedom to worship God as long as it is done in Spirit and truth, as such there is no limitation to say if one is a treasurer therefore cannot lead a worship group,NO. That's why the Bible says too much knowledge is dangerous for it can distort the truth of God. Thank you.

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Ric Reed

November 01, 2011  10:01am

While Dan has an interesting point... he's also subject to a slight semantic slide. We are not worshipping when we tithe, help others, feed the hungry, and the like. We are praising/thanking God. After all, most Christians have grown up enough that we know we can't buy our salvation. It is given to us through Christ's sacrifice. No amount of gift giving will get us there. Our gifts are all thanksgiving. Worship, on the other hand, is about us connecting with our Creator, our Redeemer, our Comforter (the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). While part of worship is the Thanksgiving Gift of our time, talent, and treasure, it is a very small part. The greater gift in worship and connecting is ourselves, our heart, and our prayers. So, in response to the question, I don't think we've reduced the word worship. I do, however, think that some folks have inflated the word "tithe" and "gift".

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