expressive worship

Good Singer or Good Worship Leader?

Music Pastors and Worship Leaders. The titles are not always synonymous with effectively directing a group of players to form a good-sounding set of worship songs for a Sunday morning service!

Couple that with thousands of churches everywhere that only have access to volunteers that may play just well enough to be called musicians, and the result is a mediocre service.

We had someone recently send us a “what-do-you-do-when” list of issues he is dealing with at his church. His first question was “What if you have a music leader who likes to sing but really doesn’t know anything about music or leading?” Sting singing “Sendin’ out an S.O.S.” comes to mind…

The people in charge of hiring a worship leader many times don’t understand that though getting a great vocalist is nice, it’s not the most important aspect of that position. A worship leader needs to know how to first of all, lead the congregation into a place of worship. (This is an entire discussion in and of itself!) A worship service is not the place to showcase their vocal ability.

Having a good voice is a nice feature, but I would rather have someone with an average voice who has a heart for worship and knows how to lead people there. Of course pitch is important – otherwise people will be distracted when trying to worship with them, but it doesn’t have to be a Grammy-caliber vocalist.

The leader also needs to know some basics about arranging music and leading a band. If it’s not possible to find this all in one person, you may consider someone else as a band director who has a writing/producing background to come alongside the worship leader to work with the band, write charts, etc. Then the worship leader is freed up to select songs, work on vocals, and focus on the flow of the service.

I know of a church who had as their worship leader an amazing pianist, singer and arranger, but when it came to leading the congregation there was something missing. She didn’t know how to make a connection with people and how to lead them to that vertical place of worship.

Part of this role, I believe, is a calling but the other part requires hard work and using the right tools and skills to improve and become a dynamic worship leader.

I highly recommend bringing your team to our next Expressive Worship Live event here in Nashville to learn these skills. You will learn how to better communicate with your congregation. But also, hanging together for two days will bond your group and build relationships, which makes for a tighter team all around.

Hope to see you here at our next workshop!

Worship Well & Often,
Amy Wolter, Live Music Producer

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Amy Wolter

Amy has vast and varied experience in music, from keyboardist to lead singer, from songwriter to producer. She fronted a nationally touring Christian rock band that garnered some top 10 CCM hits. Playing in a variety of venues and churches gave her a real understanding of what audiences and congregations connect with. As a member of her church’s worship team, Amy understands the challenges that come with this, and enjoys helping Christian artists and Worship Teams create freedom in the room to truly express their worship.

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  1. Tom Smerk says:

    Excellent article, Amy, and a problem that seems to be widespread. Three things to consider are (1) not to leave out anyone because of their lack of talent. They can be reassigned as a page turner or music librarian while another congregation member volunteers to offer vocal coaching to those in need, but everyone should be allowed to get involved. Get them singing or playing simple parts as soon as possible; (2) if you can’t find one person with all the necesary skills, then have two or three people form a team to fill the position. Make a list of what skills are important to a good worship leader, then assign different skills from the list to different people on the team. Have the meet on a regular basis to make sure they are working together and not against each other! and (3) Pray! If you are having problems with your worship service, the Lord is always willing to help. I know of a pastor that prayed daily for a good guitar player, then eventually, one joined the church!

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