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Should We Allow Student Worship Leaders?

student worship leaders

Savannah, age 18, from Covina, California, submitted this question about student worship leaders:

How do you feel about high school students leading worship, both in the high school ministry and in adult services?

Great question, and one that high school students who are interested in worship leading should be asking.

Likewise, worship ministries should establish a plan to train up young leaders.

I absolutely think high school students should be leading worship in youth ministry and when appropriate, in the adult service.

However, there should be a progression to how this happens. I’ll take you through the process that I went through starting as a high school worship leader, and how I’ve worked high school students into leading worship for youth and adult services.


Worship leading is a spiritual gift well as a skill developed over months and years.

As a young person who wants to lead worship, seek opportunities to increase skill in smaller settings. It’s a lose-lose situation if you try to start too big too fast.

Neither you as the young worship leader nor the congregation benefits when you jump into a bigger role than you can handle.

I don’t know of any first-time driver who should motor from Seattle to L.A. as a first driving experience. (That was for all of you who like metaphors.)

Fortunately, there are plenty of smaller opportunities in any church.

High school students can lead their peers in their youth group. But that’s not the only way to start.

You could lead worship for elementary and junior high students. Perhaps there’s a retirement home or adult seniors group in the church that would appreciate a student leading them in worship.

I started leading worship at age 15 in youth group. We had no worship team prior to that, but an influential youth leader took it upon himself to start one.

It was the definition of starting small. Many Wednesday nights it was just me and a piano. As time went on, we gained a drummer, guitarists, singers, a bassist and so on.

We started to play for youth camps as well as being consistent in leading the youth in worship.

From there I was invited to be a singer for a Sunday service. Then I got to play piano for a Sunday. Eventually, the youth worship team was invited to start leading worship once per month for the Sunday night adult service.

You’ve probably guessed my point by now. You must be faithful in the small things before you are worked up to larger opportunities.

Plus, these beginning responsibilities build your skill and discipline as a worship leader.

Isaiah 28:10 says, “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (KJV).

In other words, there’s no shortcut to becoming a skilled, mature worship leader capable of providing leadership to an adult congregation.


It’s true that young worship leaders should start small.

But many who start early, plus have maturity, an anointing and talent, can reach an appropriate level sufficient to lead in adult services.

That was the case for a young worship leader in my church.

We started a youth worship team. She signed up to sing. Though only 13 at the time, she showed a lot of potential.

By age 14, she became the primary worship leader for the youth group. She showed up to practice, chose the worship list, and did many of those more tedious tasks relating to leading worship.

After leading in youth group for over a year, the natural next step was for her to start participating in adult services.

However, she was not ready to lead an entire adult worship time by herself—yet.

So I had her lead one or two songs on a Sunday when I was the primary leader.

We call this co-leading at my church. It’s a chance for a very young worship leader to get a taste of leading the adult congregation without having to lead the entire service.

There is so much more to leading a worship service than just singing. You must lead the worship team, create the worship set, deal with transitions, hear what the Spirit is saying, gauge the audience and so much more!

This is a lot for a younger worship leader to become proficient in all at once, hence the value of co-leading with an experienced leader.

This is a unique experience for the older worship leader too. It’s a chance to mentor a young person in a real-world situation. Some of the best training I’ve given is during these co-leading services.

Perhaps co-leading isn’t the right model for every church, but it has worked for students (and older, less experienced worship leaders) at my church. Whether you are a high school worship leader or part of the church leadership team, experiment with this method and see how it goes.


There are some instances when high school students can and do lead the adult worship service and take on the role of lead worshiper.

This is totally fine. In fact, it’s great as long as the student has gained the skill and humility to do so.

Often this happens in smaller churches where the student is the most talented and anointed individual in the church. God has placed him or her there for that purpose.

We can’t forget that Daniel was a teenager when he stood up for God’s law in Babylon to his own peril.

David had honed his worship abilities in the pasture lands and was anointed Israel’s lead worshiper at a very young age.

Don’t underestimate the purity and power a teenager can bring to worship. God doesn’t.

This article originally appeared here.