We all want more worship leaders than we have. More worship leaders mean that we can take a break from the stage if we need to and recharge. More worship leaders mean that we have much needed variety (and diversity) in songs, styles, and even approaches, thus allowing us to engage more people. More worship leaders mean that family moves, unexpected job transfers, and unforeseen circumstances don’t leave our teams decimated. Having more worship leaders is a very good thing.
Having led worship teams at different churches of various sizes over the last eighteen years, I know that more worship leaders is not an easy thing to come by. But it’s not impossible. Here are six ways we can insure our worship teams have plenty of leaders:
Be Secure In Yourself.
It’s a hard thing to give away worship leadership. After all, it’s possible that someone could come along who might be a better singer, or a better musician. Fear of this sort is the enemy of multiplication. If you’re leading a worship team, then you’re there for a reason - and it’s not to hog the stage. God loves the kinds of worship leaders who will reproduce themselves.
You can cultivate this kind of security by weaning yourself from people’s approval or praise of your set. Do you get too up when people of influence like your set? Or too down when they don’t? Then you likely have a security problem. Wrestle with that problem by finding your worth in your identity in Christ instead of your platform. Pray Scripture about who you are in Christ so much that it’s written on your heart. And relentlessly pray for your other leaders - prefer them and defer to them. I even pray that I would not be my lead pastor’s favorite worship leader!
2. Co-lead With Up-And-Coming Worship Leaders.
Having new people lead is risky. Your lead pastor might not want to use new leaders because it threatens quality and consistency, even though your lead pastor might want the benefits of having a diverse group of worship leaders. But you can mitigate that risk by co-leading. Here at my church, new leaders lead one song. Then they move on to two songs, etc. That way, if their song doesn’t work, then I have the other songs to “prop up” the set.
Leave open spots on your schedule so that you have space for new leaders to lead. I tell my site/venue worship leaders to lead about 50% of the time; use the 50% for other leaders and keep your 50% so that you can co-lead with a new leader if necessary at some point during the month.
Oh, one more note: never pair two inexperienced worship leaders together.
3. Challenge Your Small Groups To Worship.
Chances are your up-and-coming worship leaders are inexperienced and leading from your stage will only net them limited avenues for growth because they’ll lead one or two songs a month. Worship leading is a craft. The more we do it, the better we get at it, provided we have proper training and coaching along the way. If your church’s small groups embrace worship, that’s a perfect opportunity for new leaders to cut their teeth. Small groups are notoriously kind when it comes to mistake-laden worship sets!
Furthermore, word gets around when a worship leader is killing it in a small group. The buzz about that leader will make its way to you. You’ll hear about it even in a big church setting! Once you’ve listened to them lead (by visiting their small group!), it’s an easy step to have them start leading with you on the “big” stage.
4. Make Transparent Pathways For Involvement.
No matter how small (or especially large!) your church is, you just don’t know everyone who could potentially lead worship. It has to be easy for the newcomer to figure out how to get involved. Whether that’s a church-wide Worship Leaders’ Class or a regular spate of auditions, get the word out there so that people who don’t know you can self-select into an appropriate opportunity. Furthermore, make that pathway known to your worship team members, so that they can recruit as well.
5. Never Stop Recruiting.
You never have enough worship leaders. You just don’t. Circumstances are fickle - you may think you’re set with your four worship leaders and bands. All of the sudden, a round of layoffs occurs at the big factory down the street and your other leaders and musicians have found employment elsewhere. Back to square one.
You never have enough worship leaders. Even if you don’t have any open spots, you find a way to include new folks.
This is obvious, but we often forget it. Pray worship leaders into your church. God loves to answer those prayers, especially if you’re the kind of person that will give them space to lead.
These are just a few ways to create a culture of opportunity and development in your churches. But remember: when we release people into worship leading, we experience a joy that surpasses leading worship ourselves. Why? Because even (especially!) in this case, it’s better to give than it is to receive.
Question: How have you developed new worship leaders?