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Introduction to Curating Worship

The following is the introduction for “Five Principles for Curating Worship” which is part of our Worship School curriculum. 

Having been involved in worship ministry for about 20 years, I have come across several roles and titles for those who lead worship in the local church; Worship Pastor, Worship Leader, Lead Worshiper, Music Leader, Music Director, Song Leader, and a host of other titles and combinations of those listed! I have also been involved in leading and consulting teams in churches and ministries across multiple denominations. This has given me a rich experience and appreciation for the body of Christ as expressed in multiple traditions, theologies, and doctrines, all with different approaches to how corporate worship is expressed. It might be easy to point out the flaws in each congregation in their views and expression of worship, but I have become more interested in looking at ways to encourage and equip as a way to build unity. As I reflect on my time and experience, I have been encouraged at how the Lord has moved, spoken, and been glorified in many ways, regardless of beliefs held, color of skin, standing or sitting or falling on their faces.
I find it helpful for those involved in leading worship to look at their role through a lens of  curating. The first time I came across this concept was in Mark Pierson’s book, The Art of Curating Worship. His book particularly looks at curating worship as an art, and he does a great job of helping the reader think outside the box of what we have known and become so comfortable with where it pertains to church services, worship gatherings, corporate worship, or whatever label you want to give “the gathered church.”

From Merriam-Webster:
cu·ra·tor, noun
:one who has the care and superintendence of something; especially
:one in charge of a museum, zoo, or other place of exhibit.”

Curator finds its origin in Latin, cūrātor and cūrāre, meaning “one who looks after… to watch over, attend.”

In its simplest form, you could say the term curate simply means “to care for.” We will look at a curator as one who cares for, selects, oversees, presents, and often interprets content. In a way, the curator of worship takes on several roles such as pastor, shepherd, director, and coordinator. As a curator of worship, it is important to recognize you may not be in the spotlight all the time or at all. You must be humble enough to recognize and empower others. The curator selects people, content, presentation mediums, and other components that will help with two things in particular; telling the gospel story, and inviting people into that story.

Two words that have become foundational for my philosophy in worship leadership is intentionality and authenticity. These ideas of being intentional and authentic will carry through all of the sessions on curating worship. Part of being intentional means being aware of context as we live and lead worship in community, and to be authentic is to be honest and true with ourselves and those we are in community with.

The following sessions will look at five principles that are helpful in our foundation and formation as worshipers of Christ, and then as curators of worship. Keep context in mind as we read, process, and discuss. A lot of the material may look differently based on tradition and expression, but the principles should stick however and wherever they are applied.


For Reflection & Discussion >>

Reflect on the different traditions and expressions of worship you have experienced and been part of. How have those experiences shaped you and your view of worship and leadership?

How might God be inviting you to see yourself as a curator in the worship ministry context you are involved in? If you’re not currently involved in a worship ministry, consider how you might be a curator as God continues to lead you in worship and life.

Meditate on Matthew 5:1-12. Read it through a couple times and focus on slowing down. Pay attention to what sticks out as you read it. As you’re reading, ask the Spirit to speak to you. Read it again. Don’t hurry. If something sticks out, stop. Don’t be afraid to pause and spend some time reflecting and listening to thoughts and stirrings as God may be trying to get your attention about something. Maybe you won’t get through it much more than once. You might get stuck on a verse or not be able to get past a single word. Be okay with that. Receive grace. Rather than focusing on getting through the text, breathe easy, slow down, and pay attention to the Spirit of God. Be sure to take some time during or after your time of meditation to write down some notes and thoughts of what you noticed, heard, and how God might be nudging you.

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