What Is a Worship Leader?

These must be examples of what worship leaders are, right?

I must say that I have been amused by the various titles for someone who directs music in a church – song Leader, music director, music pastor, minister of music, worship leader/pastor, magnification pastor, and the list goes on. I have seen everyone from a willing soul announcing a song number to the guy in a mid-life crisis in skinny jeans with holes in them.

I was in music ministry for over two decades. I will be the first to tell you that millions of people are better than me in this field, but I did have a few “successful” years in the journey. I consider those to be years when I personally learned how to worship with all I am and see a church begin to do the same. In that season, I learned a few things about what a music ministry should look like.

So, the question of the day is, “What are characteristics of a good ‘worship leader’?”

  • One who passionately worships even if he/she must do it alone. I remember many Sundays when my heart was so full, but I felt that few others were feeling it. I often said, “Though none go with me, still I will follow.”
    One who points others to Jesus. I have watched many worship teams over the course of several years. Some were great performances. They were seamless. No apparent mistakes by vocalists or instrumentalists. When they were done, I felt like it was just a bunch of people who sang and played. There was no time to allow the Holy Spirit to move because they had a schedule to keep. No worship team member could share something God laid upon their heart. It was empty. The Messiah wasn’t magnified because the music was.
    One who teaches the church biblical worship. The “worship leader” does not have to preach, but he/she can teach truth in a way that exalts Christ and edifies believers. I watched our worship pastor and team lead us in a wonderful time of musical worship. Our lead pastor does the same thing. Those on stage grasp the concept, and it’s not about one person. The one person whose gift has impressed me is Mark Clarke, Music and Arts Pastor at Point Harbor Church in Chesapeake, Virginia. Mark has served there since 2006 and has done a remarkable job in mixing worship music to engage a congregation that is very multi-racial. He is African-American and is extremely versatile. I notice that he worships personally as he is on stage. His worship is so authentic that people want to join in. His comments between songs and support from the lead pastor have led Point Harbor to be a very unique place. I have contacted Mark on a few occasions, and he is always gracious.

The bottom line is that worship leaders can come in all shapes, sizes, ethnic backgrounds, etc. Not everyone has this gift and calling. Some possess the basics but need to remember that worship is a journey that, if you are going to lead, you must be at the forefront, guiding by example. Lead people to Christ. Lead them to biblical truth. Sacrifice style, performance, and egocentrism at the altar. Lead them in the kind of worship where the devil knows he is not welcome.


13 thoughts on “What Is a Worship Leader?

  1. Good post, Matthew. I’m feeling really frustrated with our worship music right now. It would be downright comical, if it wasn’t so darn maddening. Our pastor really helped to bring things together, but he’s been gone for a while now.

  2. Truthful line: “The Messiah wasn’t magnified because the music was.” Let’s magnify The Messiah! I’m praying that today you experience Great Joy, my Brother!

  3. The picture chosen was hilarious, I had a good laugh due to it comical nature but friend, behind the comedic lesson holds such truth. As a worship leader, we cannot invite the congregation into places where we have never been. Our worship life must be saturated with Holy Spirit that when we stand to lead, it is palpable.

  4. This is not a complaint, but just introducing another side to leading worship. I used to love the praise and worship at my church. Our current music director does a wonderful job and he really loves the Lord. He and the pastor seem to be in harmony as the anointing of the Holy Spirit is evident upon both.

    The problem is that the sound man cranks up the volume to just below concert level, (at the instruction of our pastor who seems to be hard of hearing). As such, I have to stuff Kleenex in my ears because it literally hurts. On a side note, I have been around emergency vehicle siren’s for the past 30 years and have grown to hate loud noises.

  5. Your absolutely right. Worship ministry can be dangerous to ourselves and others if we do not keep our minds renewed with theses truths and our relationship with God first always. It should never be a form of entertainment but a leading of people into their own personal worship with the Lord. Only then can the Holy Spirit move.

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