What does it take to be a great worship leader?
If I polled pastors and worship leaders across the world, I’m sure we’d see a common thread of common skills necessary to fulfill the role with excellence.
We’d talk about heart and passion. We’d talk about vocal ability. We’d discuss musicality and band leadership. We’d talk about leadership—the ability to lead a team, grow a team, and maintain momentum. We may even agree on discipleship—the ability to reproduce other leaders.
But what if there were other disciplines and skills that sustain a worship leader beyond mere leadership savvy and musical talent? What if there was something deeper than just have a “passion for worship” or a “passion for God?”
I’m going to outline a few of these. Having led worship for most of my life now, I’ve noticed that talent can get you started, but it’s not enough to sustain years of faithful ministry. If it’s all about your talent, the stage won’t be big enough. Your audience won’t be engaged enough. Your band won’t be talented enough.
A worship leader who leads well is one who follows Jesus. One who never stops pursuing. One who builds the Spiritual disciplines in their life to keep them close. Essentially, an effective worship leader is one who maintains a posture of loving Jesus more than worship.
Here are a few of those disciplines:
1. Memorize Scripture – Knowing songs is a great first step. But knowing Scripture will make you a worshiper. It gives you understanding into who God is, what He’s done and how He moves. It provides context to the gathering of God’s people.
2. Get to Know People – Well, depending on the size of your church, you may or may not get to know everyone. But you need to hang out with more than just your friends. You need to sit and listen to the heart of the 85-year-old woman who doesn’t like your music. You need to hang out with the student who sits outside the sanctuary during worship. You need a heart for people. Without a heart for people, you’ll hate to lead worship. You’ll enjoy it for a season but will dry up when you realize it is ALL about loving people.
3. Study Preaching & Communication – Most of what makes a worship leader effective in leading a room is what happens in between the lyrics. It’s what happens in between the songs. That’s where trust is formed, connection is built. Good preachers are constantly refining their delivery and studying ways to deliver unchanging truth in a way that connects with a changing audience. The combination of delivering truth and public speaking is an incredible skill for a worship leader to develop.
4. Going Deep & Shallow – Wait, what? Yes, that’s right. Deep & shallow. As a worship leader, you need to go deep with God. You should be a student of the glory of God—reading theology books, pressing in, pursuing more of Jesus. But that doesn’t mean you have to wear sackloth & ashes, open up the service levitating, and speak in hushed tones all the time. You need to relate to people. You need to meet people on their level and take them with you. It’s not enough to just have your “worship time.” Smile, relax and take people with you.
5. Share the Stage – Some of us need to stop grasping the platform so tightly. We’ve found our identity on stage and have a deep-seated fear of letting it go. At any moment, all of us need to ask, what if I was no longer here? Would the ministry continue? What if I worked behind the scenes, equipping others to lead? Would I be OK with that?
What would you add to this list? What are some skills you’ve had to develop to help you lead more effectively?
This article originally appeared here.