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Worship First; Technical Excellence Second

worship leader

Selecting a worship leader means more than assessing tech skills, or even music skills.

One of the most fruitful worship leaders I know is a 58-year-old mediocre singer who’s DEAF in one ear. He leads a racially diverse worship ministry of over 100 volunteers in a church of 2,500 people.

Another worship leader I know is 65. He’s taken a very dated service to a well done, technologically savvy worship expression with one of the best social streams I’ve seen. He rarely leads a song but has developed dozens of young worship leaders in a church of 500.

I know worship directors that don’t play guitar or piano, yet they lead the whole worship ministry from a soundboard or drum set, in churches of more than 3,000 people! Most senior leaders think too small when imagining their next worship leader. Their goals are typically someone young with exceptional stage presence, high anointing, and low cost.

It’s been my joy to help multiple churches find their next worship leader. I received probably 100 phone calls in the past five years, pastors asking for help to expand their idea of “I need a worship guy.” What if I told you your next great worship leader would be a much better worship pastor than a worship performer? What if I told you they might do things that build God’s kingdom in ways that don’t translate well to YouTube or on live streaming? What if I told you they would need to be paid a significant living wage, but in return might produce disciples tenfold?

I appreciate that each church has a unique journey and this advice might be something for 5 or 10 years down the road. This very well might be the time you need a solid chief musician on stage, but consider the idea that the right person may not fit the persona of a typical worship leader.

Let me conclude my conclude my point with a not-so-unrealistic choice in hiring a worship leader:

Candidate A is an A+ stage savvy worship leader. This person is anointed, brave, bold, and a worker bee. Impressively, he or she makes the weekend “happen.”  This candidate knows all the latest tech. On the downside, they are prone to burnout or moving on to a bigger church.

Candidate B is a C+ stage savvy worship leader that develops dozens of A, B, and C-grade worship volunteers across all positions for years and decades. This person, too, makes weekend “happen”, but it’s a little messier and the technical aspect sometimes breaks down. On the downside, this person may not be the hippest, and might wander off in order to plant a new church.

Who do you choose?