What is a worship leader? blog

What is a worship leader?

By Marisa Sorenson

What is a worship leader? They are the leader of musical worship during a church service. It sounds obvious, right? But what does a church worship leader actually do? Do they only sing? Do they have more responsibilities?

If you’re considering a worship leading major, here’s a glimpse into what your life might be like as a church worship leader.

When you arrive at church, the pastor comes on stage and starts preaching immediately, right? Nope. Typically before the sermon, most churches have a time of musical worship. And the person setting the tone for that time is the worship leader.

Interested in seeing what a worship leading major can help you achieve? Download a free, award-winning Hearts on Fire worship album, created by North Central University students and alumni. 

So who is a worship leader?

Someone who can effectively guide a congregation in a focused time of music. It is the worship leader’s mission to help prepare the hearts of audience for the sermon.

Worship leaders play a major role in the success of a church service. Many qualities set worship leaders apart from the rest of the musicians. Here are 7 qualities of church worship leaders that you will grow as a worship leading major.

A skilled musician

A worship leader doesn’t need to be proficient in all musical instruments, but they should definitely be experienced and skilled with more than one. They should be able to recognize the elements of the sound their music team is creating and adjust those elements as needed to reach the desired tone and momentum.

A visionary

Creativity and adaptability are two of the most important qualities for a worship leader. Congregations expect to be engaged in the worship experience every week. A visionary is able to maintain passion and keep bringing a fresh feel to the services.

Worship leader clapping during a service.

Someone who creates and furthers culture

Every church has a unique culture because every congregation is comprised of many individuals. The dynamics vary wildly, and it is up to the worship leader to figure out the culture. They have a hand in shaping and guiding the culture through the musical choices they make.

Someone who coordinates with a theme

The worship leader does not choose the theme of the sermon, but they help coordinate the music to match the vision of the speaker. Subtle nuances in the sermon can be amplified through the songs selected by the worship leader. Song choices can impress the message of the sermon on the listeners.

The goal result of this, for worship leaders, is that songs will emphasize the sermon and help to emblazon the message on the hearers.

Someone who can build teams

A worship leader is not a solo act. Rather, they are the foundation of a team. They create a culture and an identity for the team they lead.

Communication and organization are essential skills as they work to inspire the musicians they lead. The best worship leaders know when to step back and lead from behind, encouraging individuals of the team to step up in their positions.

Someone who will foster relationships

Aside from team building, the worship leader is responsible for fostering and developing relationships with church members and fellow leaders in the church. They are not limited to musical subjects only, but are also seen as mentors and shepherds to the members of the congregation.

Someone who is Christ-centered & Holy Spirit-guided

The worship leader is a key contributor to the church, and they are responsible for their personal relationship with Christ, maintaining a sensitive ear to the nudges of the Holy Spirit. They weave Biblical truths into the music they make. They pursue Jesus and seek to become more like Him both on and off the stage.

Worship leaders take ownership of their faith, stepping outside of the musical world to communicate and coordinate their musical abilities with other factors of a church service to help fellow believers explore a deeper relationship with Christ. They participate in and promote the mission of the church with passion and integrity.

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