I recently wrote a paper for class on this and am currently navigating this in my job as well. This weekend we have a Christmas concert at my church and we have several people involved who are not believers.
A couple days ago I twittered this: Anyone have an opinion about whether non-Christians should be involved in church services (i.e. playing in the band)?
I got a ton of responses, but here were some of my favorites:
- Jennifer Hudson: How can you LEAD worship if YOU aren’t worshiping? Every member of a “worship band” is a worship leader in my opinion.
- Kyle Campos: I don’t know another leading position in the church we consider putting non-christians in. Strikes me as odd.
- Brett Aljets: We’ve had several, kind of a philosophy if you will. Seen God really work in and through that ministry.
Here are some thoughts of my own:
It is fairly obvious that non-Christians are not able to truly worship God without having been made alive in Christ through the Spirit’s work in their life. But, I do not think that should have an effect on whether or not someone can be a part of leading Christian believers in a time of worship.
A distinction must be made here between leading a congregation and facilitating a time of worship. A worship leader uses teaching and personal examples to draw the congregation into a time of worship, while a member of the worship team is playing a song or songs that create this time. The only position that should be off-limits completely from non-Christians is the leading aspect of worship times in church gatherings (read worship leader, as opposed to band member). I say this mostly because of the language the Bible uses when it refers to church leaders (which worship leaders definitely are) and the need for them to be leading lives worthy of their calling (Eph. 4:1-3).
As Christians, we use many things that were not created for the purpose of worship (Psalm 150), in our worship of God. How then is a non-Christian being involved that much different? I can think of few better ways of introducing a musician to Christ than by allowing them to be involved in playing the music that a congregation will use to worship.
At worst, having a non-Christian being involved with a worship team and leading a congregation in song is inauthentic. At best, it just might save a musician for eternity.
My main concern here is that we too often treat this issue as black and white and I don’t think we can because there is no direct Biblical mandate. Should a professing Christian who is living in sin be on the stage? If you say no, then don’t go to any church in America because that stage will be full of sinful people.
So we’ll let sinners, maybe even people who have committed “big” sins on stage, but we won’t let non-believers on stage? Is our biggest worry that someone from our church might see that heathen guitar player cussing in public or at a bar?
In the end I think using discernment and discretion is key. This doesn’t mean every non-Christian should be involved or that they should be allowed to stay involved consistently if they have no interest in what the church is about. But definitely, non-Christians should be able to play a role in our church gatherings. It may be the very way the Holy Spirit will use to draw them to the Father.
Despite my strong opinion on this, I hope we can have a conversation about this in the comments from both sides.
(Photo: Boaz Crawford)