The Spiritual Worship Leader - April 2019

By P. Daniel Buford     Back in the day we didn’t call them worship leaders; they were song leaders. Perhaps a matter of semantics, they did the same thing but in a different era.

Lloyd Rigmaiden was the song leader in my home church. He was a butcher by trade and the presence of some shortened fingers showed the occasional contact with the tools of his trade. When he signaled for “verse two,” sometimes his altered fingers gave conflicting signals. But I remember him leading such songs as “The Haven of Rest,” “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” and “Victory in Jesus.” He led the songs like he meant them. He did!

We had a good congregation with many good people. As I grew older and began to question some things, I asked my dad, “Who is the most spiritual person in our congregation?” I knew a few people testified with anointing, the intensity of their words moving the listeners to worship, praise, and conviction. Some women worshiped with abandon, dancing in the Spirit, slinging bobby pins across the floor or gliding in graceful, waltzing motions across the front of the sanctuary. Some of the men would leave their seats, get out in the aisle, and run and dance in the Spirit. Some of the folks would sing as a solo or in groups and it seemed the glory of God would rain from Heaven. One or two individuals would at times give forth a message in tongues and often would interpret it, to the edification of the congregation. Surely it would be one of these people.

But Dad pointed my attention to our song leader, Lloyd Rigmaiden. I was taken aback, because I had never seen him engaging in the “spiritual” exercises in our services. He just led our songs. He selected the songs and directed us as to what verse to sing or repeat. He didn’t even choose the key; the pianist just started in the key the hymn book gave. Him? Spiritual?

And then Dad told me a story. One time a man in the church had fallen into a sin that was made public and brought shame to him and his family but also to the church body. The pastor called a board meeting and prayerfully asked the members for input regarding the man’s future with the church. Some on the board said, “Disfellowship him. He will drag the congregation down.” Other board members said, “What about what the Bible says about a little leaven leavening the whole lump? If he stays around he will contaminate the rest of our members.” Someone else commented, “If we let him remain, what will the young people think—that we condone his sin?” Lloyd Rigmaiden spoke up in his quiet and mild manner and gently said, “Let’s pray for him, love him, teach him, and try to restore him.” 

Then Dad quoted to me Galatians 6:1–2: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

Dad’s answer put some things into proper perspective for me that day. And now, years later, that perspective still rings true. God has “reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation: to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (II Corinthians 5:18–19). Paul taught what Lloyd Rigmaiden practiced. Perhaps they both understood God’s heart regarding the individual who trespasses against Him. Phrases like restore such a one, ministry of reconciliation, and bearing one another’s burdens are not just words, they are actions and life styles. As we make a safe way home for the wayward person, our congregations become a sanctuary in more than just name, they fulfill the function.