What Does a Worship Leader Do?

(photo from http://markdroberts.com/?p=531)

Bob Kauflin from the Worship Matters website posted a 17-part series (that’s right, 17) about “What Does A Worship Leader Do?” a few years back.  Kauflin admits that he struggled a bit with the title, “worship leader”…

I’ve gone back and forth over whether I should use “worship leader” in the title of this series. Among other things, using the term can communicate that:

1) the only time we worship God in a meeting is when we’re following the “worship leader” up front

2) congregational worship must be led by a musician

3) worship leaders have some special access into God’s presence that the congregation doesn’t have

4) this is a role that God has commended in His Word.

I don’t believe any of the above statements are true.

I am a “Minister of Music” which is the title preferred by my church and myself.  The term, “Minister of Music” adequately describes what I do.  I am first an ordained minister and I minister through the sacred avenue of worship.  I believe that this particular title is over-used and incorrectly used today.  Many times you may hear someone describe themselves as a “Minister of Music”, but they are not ordained.  Moreover, many churches use out-dated and incorrect titles for their Minister of Music like song leader or hymn leader.  If I am a Minister of Music, I do more than just lead the songs and hymns.

Additionally, what about those who are titled “Pastor of Music & Worship”?  Some of you that read this blog may have this title.  If so, what is the background behind this title?  I believe, as Kauflin notes, God is indeed our One, true, worship leader.  After that, the Holy Spirit works in the heart and mind of the Pastor and staff to organize and lead worship.  Can you be a “Pastor of Worship”?

Kauflin writes:  As far as using the term “worship leader” in the title – While I prefer terms like “music pastor” or “congregational worship leader,” I decided to use the term “worship leader” simply because most people can identify with it. I’m aware that some have voiced strong feelings against using the title. Don Carson shared this in aninterview with Tony Payne, although I heard him say something similar in a class I once took from him. “I would abolish forever the notion of a ‘worship leader’. If you want to have a ’song leader’ who leads part of the worship, just as the preacher leads part of the worship, that’s fine. But to call the person a ‘worship leader’ takes away the idea that by preaching, teaching, listening to and devouring the word of God, and applying it to our lives, we are somehow not worshipping God.”

Kauflin defines the title “worship leader” as this: An effective corporate worship leader, aided and led by the Holy Spirit, skillfully combines biblical truth with music to magnify the worth of God and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, thereby motivating the gathered church to join him in proclaiming and cherishing the truth about God and seeking to live all of life for the glory of God.”  Moreover, he writes, “a worship leader skillfully combines biblical truth with music”.

When we begin using titles and labels, we must make sure they are correct in Scripture and in functionality.  In my region, I know of zero full-time worship leaders.  I know many people who have other full-time jobs (in our out of the ministry) who lead worship for events and worship services in addition to their “real” job.  In my field, the term worship leader does not cover all that I do.  It would be comparable to us calling our Pastor a “preacher”.  He does more than just preach.  I do much more than lead worship: leader children’s music, youth choir, adult choir, praise band, plan worship, lead worship, organize musicians, lead rehearsals, etc.

There are 17 blog posts about this.  Much more is covered in a greater way that I ever could.  Check it out and I hope you find something useful from it.

Part One (at the end of each article, there is a link to the next post–17 posts in all)


2 thoughts on “What Does a Worship Leader Do?

  1. First of all–GREAT job on all this!

    I can’t believe it’s 17 POSTS long… I’m still working through the first!

    I’m going to link to this over at the site I run that helps people lead worship by using loops, and I think it will be a reference series I come back to quite a bit!

    Thanks, Dennis!

    • Thanks for reading and thanks also for the comment! 17 posts long is unbelievable but Worship Matters is an awesome resource for worship leaders. Lots of great stuff!

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