I actually grew up using the term “Christian hair” as a somewhat deragatory, yet playful descriptive term for the over-eager bouffant coiffure of the professionally religious. Think Benny Hinn meets Roy Orbison meets an oscilating fan and a gallon of Aqua Net. On steroids. Bingo! Christian hair.
Now the scene has changed. And while the aforementioned variety of Christian hair can still be spotted occasionally in the seventy+ crowd at Denny’s and on TBN, there’s a new ‘do taking the hip church scene by storm. It’s equal parts, “heck yeah!” and “did you mean to do that?” I affectionately call it “The Pete Wilson“. For full disclosure: I totally love Pete Wilson. His blog is fantastic. His ministry is biblical, powerful, and Spirit-led. And his hair does things my thinning mane of glory dreams about as I sleep. Further, he’s a Senior Pastor – not a worship leader – so he’s out of bounds for this discussion. And yet…
Fellow Lead Worshippers, help me understand… What’s with the hair? I’m not talking about simple personal style choices here. You can effectively lead worship with almost any kind of hair… spanning the panoply of the style choice rainbow. From the sleek simplicity of Carlos Whittaker to the crazed fro-tee combo of David Crowder. And yet…
I’m in a minefield here. I can feel it. I’m asking deeper questions about heart conditions and motivations which are not so deftly disguised as style questions. Skipping stones off the surface to see what lies beneath. Fellow Lead Worshippers, help me understand… Without an accusing tone – without any self-righteous pride – and without a sense of smug superiority masquerading as humble opinion – some of what’s happening in our contemporary churches makes me go, “hmmm.”
Several years ago I was asked to be the Worship Coordinator for the national youth convention of a conservative church association. As our Board discussed some of the feedback that had come back from the previous convention, we were literally asked to consider hiding the worship team behind a screen, so the focus could remain on the Lord during worship. We politely declined the request – but the fact that it was suggested I think establishes a POINT A for the extreme conservative position when it comes to contemporary worship leading: We would prefer no contemporary leader at all (“After all, there’s no ‘Worship Leader’ position in the New Testament…”), but if you must be up there, please lead quietly… and off to the side.
POINT Z on the style scale is usually found in the “Seeker Sensitive-ist” of contemporary churches. And I don’t use that term with even a hint of negativity. Rather, as a means of identification. These are churches who have invested a healthy sum of resources into a projection system and theater lighting that rivals even the hippest of pop-culture bands touring today. Here’s an excercise for you. Look at the picture at the top of this post for 10 seconds and see if you can positively ID the scene as a Country Music concert or a high-tech contemporary worship setting. Go!
It wasn’t until I spotted the bouncers in the front of the stage that I was sure this was an entertainment venue and not a contemporary worship setting. Although, if Tomlin was leading, the bouncers MIGHT be necessary, so… Well, point made.
On the style scale between the ultra-conservative POINT A and the hippest of techno-pop POINT Z churches, our church is probably at about the QRS level. A mix of hymns and choruses and creeds and prayers, both loud and quiet, both tender and rocked out. No suit coats. No designer jeans. No Christian hair… and no Christian hair. We sometimes wear Levi’s. We like to dim the lights when we use video clips. But no lasers. No fog machines. No flashpots or strobes. We are trying to be authentic in our worship, honest and complete in our presentation of Biblical truth, and welcoming to both the seasoned church attender and the non-church types who are simply curious about Jesus. We think this neighborhood will connect best to about a QRS on the hipness scale.
And I guess there’s my question for those of you farther down the alphabet. For you XYZ types. Are we trying to inspire the Church to focus their attention on the Lord? And if we are, how exactly does the hip hair and the designer jeans and the breathtaking lightshow NOT distract the worshippers? It’s an honest question.
Before I became a worship leader by occupation, I attended an amazing church – a large church with several thousand attending each weekend. Their ministry had a HUGE impact on me as a worship leader, not because it was flashy, but specifically because it was not. It was authentic. It was excellent musically. And it was SIMPLE in it’s presentation. Lights down before the service. Lights fade up as the service begins. Simple wash of the platform. And then worship happened with deep reverence and genuine humility. And just regular guy hair.
I don’t claim to have a corner on the market of what is the BEST way to lead worship. I’m just a dude leading a group of Jesus-loving artists who lead a Jesus-loving congregation. And I always watch what other leaders are up to. I learn from you. Constantly. But I wonder sometimes why you do the things you do. If you saw me, you’d have a pile of questions, too, I’m sure. So from one brother to another – from one Levite to the rest a y’all with a ton of grace- help me understand the grandiosity and the flash.
Where does your ministry fall on the style alphabet? And more importantly… WHY?
“leading worship with awesome hair :: God, humility… and lasers” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.