Five Tips For Successful Worship Leaders

(The Third in a Series of Five)

By Suzanne Provagna

Tip #3 Remember Who You Are and What You Came To Do

As worship leaders, we have ministerial duties that require us to reflect the love and truth of Jesus Christ in all that we say and do. We are not perfect but as teachers or worship pastors, we will be judged more strictly by others. That’s fair. “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” James 3:1.

Remembering who you are and what you came to do will help you avoid falling into the ineffective personas listed below. Know who you are: A child of God given the privilege to be a worship leader. What you came to do: Help usher the congregation into the presence of the Lord.

There are three personas worship leaders can morph into and each one violates the truth of who you are and what you came to do. These are: The Unprofessional, The Performer, and my least favorite, The Cheerleader. Here’s a description of these three ineffective worship leader traps.

Well prepared and well-equipped musicians will help usher the congregation into the presence of God and not demand them to ignore dissonance.

The Unprofessional: The Unprofessional allows singers and players to be unprepared in front of the congregation. When a singer is consistently a quarter to a half-step off in pitch, it is not easy for the congregation to worship God. I know there are other considerations to take into account, but I’m still putting that out there. Well prepared and well-equipped musicians will help usher the congregation into the presence of God and not demand them to ignore dissonance. And yes, a mature worshiper will be able to worship God no matter what the sound is like, but that is not the majority of the congregation. We serve all the congregation. If you see yourself in “The Unprofessional” then commit to learning more. Next Level Worship offers amazing classes taught by Dwayne Moore. They are well worth the money and time.



The Performer: Talent is a gift given to us from God. We have all received different measures of varying talents and each one is precious and can be used to serve others. But if we move from being a worship leader to being a performer, then we will force our congregation from participating to spectating. What do you do if you or a team member has been blessed with a “Wow!” voice? If you were to put Barbara Streisand up on the platform beside you to sing, most people would hush from the pure brilliance of her extraordinary voice and musicality. But, if she smiled and said, “Please, sing with me; let’s worship God together with our voices.” You would probably open your mouth and sing. And the angels above would be singing praises to God with you! That’s ushering in the presence of God! That’s our extraordinary job!

If we move from being a worship leader to being a performer, then we will force our congregation from participating to spectating.

Well prepared and well-equipped musicians will help usher the congregation into the presence of God and not demand them to ignore dissonance.

The Cheerleader: This is my least favorite because it hurts the hearts of worshipers more than most realize. Picture this. A woman comes to church three days after her husband has left her and her family. The woman’s heart is shattered and she has shared her heartache with no one. She is crushed and it takes everything she has to get herself ready, out the door, and into church. It is her act of worship—to remind herself of God’s faithfulness . . . only to hear from the worship leader . . . . “Come on, you can do better than that! You can sing louder than that! Let’s really praise God with a mighty sound!”

Like the lady at the temple whom Jesus commends for giving the only coins she had, the woman in the story above gave everything she had by simply coming to church with her broken heart.

Stories like the above are happening all the time to people in our congregations—struggling marriages, addiction problems, recalcitrant children, mental illness, suicide, job losses, financial devastation, divorce, disloyalty, physical, mental, and sexual abuse—these are afflictions encountered by members of our congregation every week. Let us never forget it.

When we’re in front of the congregation it feels good to hear strong voices singing back at us but we must remember, it’s not about us. It’s about worshiping God and sometimes that means . . . simply coming to church. We should do our best not to offend anyone by demanding more than what he or she can give.

Maybe the best way for us to remember who we are and what we came to do is to begin our Sunday (and why not every day?) on our knees before our Savior, humbly asking for His guidance, His wisdom, and His presence to be with us and in the hearts of our congregation.

Prayer:
May the light of Jesus guide your music ministry as you pastor those in your congregation. May the Holy Spirit continually shape your heart and character with compassion and courage. May you trust in God your Father as your refuge and fortress in all things. Amen.

Suzanne Provagna is a public speaker and the author of Better Stronger Wiser: a collection of inspirational stories and Scripture-based coloring pages that apply the wisdom of Proverbs to the woman looking to become Better, Stronger, and Wiser.