Confessions of a Worship Leader

     I grew up in a family of musicians.  My parents, both devout Christians, taught me and my five siblings that faithful stewardship of the gifts God had given us involved participation in church music. And so, at the age of 10, I started playing on my first worship team. That marked the beginning of my life as a worship leader. I have since led and participated in many teams in a variety of settings and styles, and currently serve at Trinity Church of Boyertown, Pa. Over the course of the past 13 years, leading worship has become one of my greatest passions and, as God has made clear, one of my primary callings. In writing this, I do not presume to be an expert on the topic, but rather a humble servant who has learned–and is still learning–a few things whilst seeking to live out his calling. With that in mind, I would like to share some thoughts on leading worship.

     In order to lead others in corporate worship, we must understand that worship is a way of life. As a lifestyle, our worship comprises the ongoing act of offering ourselves as living sacrifices to God (Romans 12:1). We worship God by living Christianly, by responding to His call and guidance in faithful obedience and by attuning the affections of our hearts to Him who alone is worthy of all glory, honor and praise. Thus, our joining together as the body of Christ to study the Word of God, partake in the sacraments and sing songs of praise is merely a continuation of our worship in a corporate manner.

     With this understanding of worship, we as worship leaders must strive to cultivate our own rich, personal lives of worship. Each day we must seek the face of God, focus our affections on Him and practice spiritual disciplines. There is no substitute for time spent daily in the Word of God and in prayer. I cannot stress the importance of this enough; it is paramount to our task. A healthy personal spiritual life serves as the foundation from which we lead and guide others. If we neglect to tend to our own spiritual life, our leadership becomes inauthentic and less effective. The condition of our hearts and minds is of grave importance and ought not to be neglected.

     Aside from tending to our spiritual well-being and growth, we, as leaders, often have some sort of organizational responsibility, whether it is selecting music, choosing readings, writing prayers or determining order. Regardless of the specifics, this task necessitates prayer and demands discernment. Our planning sessions ought to be bathed in prayer, asking the Lord to bless our endeavors, seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit and lifting up both those we are serving alongside of and those we are leading. Doing so reminds us to lean not on our own efforts and abilities, but to depend on God instead. The specific components which we include should be considered fastidiously; each element should be inspected carefully and prayerfully so as to ensure that it is of sound theology and high quality.

     Whether you identify your preferred worship style as “traditional” or “contemporary,” it is my hope and prayer that these thoughts might encourage you in your own spiritual life and participation in corporate worship.

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