What is a worship leader and what does he or she do?
Within our “WELS circles”, the worship leader is the pastor; as it should be. He is ultimately responsible for the spiritual care of his church’s members. He is their shepherd. But in today’s culture, the term “worship leader” now defines a person that assists the Pastor, primarily in the area of music, and is usually a volunteer. This role has become more prevalent as contemporary and blended worship styles have increased in popularity, but it can also be helpful to the Pastor to have a close worship partner, particularly a Lay person, for traditional services as well.
The term “worship leader” is perhaps not the best term; some people refer to this position as “lead worshiper”, which I like a little better, or, “worship coordinator”, which is the term that my local church uses and is in fact my title.
I will define the role of this person based on my own personal experiences. In the general sense, roles may vary depending on church size, doctrinal beliefs, congregational support and your own gifts and abilities.
Here are some of the functions that I perform in my role as the worship coordinator:
- Worked with the Pastor to develop a plan to start using contemporary music in worship. This included the development of a worship template, or an “Order of Worship” that we follow on blended Sundays.
- Choose the contemporary music for use in worship with the Pastor’s review and approval*.
- Participate in the choir, the band and schedule practice times*.
- Pray for your Pastor, your musical team, your church and your Synod*.
- Be the administrator for your CCLI or equivalent copyright license.
- Stay abreast of new contemporary Christian music.
- Help to run the audio-visual equipment.
- Help with liturgical writing and responsive readings to be used in worship.
- Create videos for use in worship.
- Participate in the children’s message ministry.
- Fill-in as guest preacher when needed.
I have placed a star next to items 2-4 because these are the most important tasks.
As you can see, it is a critical position and a position that requires close coordination with the Pastor and it also requires the person to be in the scriptures and in prayer as much as possible. I don’t claim to be a model worship leader by any means, but I offer these thoughts for those of you considering this calling. If you want a role model, consider guys like Kenaniah or Asaph:
Kenaniah the head Levite was in charge of the singing; that was his responsibility because he was skillful at it. – Chr 15:22
He appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord, to make petitions, to give thanks, and to praise the lord… They were to play the lyres and harps, Asaph was to sound the cymbals… – 1 Chr 16:4,5
Or, let Christ himself be your role model and be an imitator of Christ.
In the end, this position is all about works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.
Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men. – Eph 6:7
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version, Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of International Bible Society