The Worship Leader

the worship leaderImage courtesy of phanlop88 /

My church is currently in the process of selecting a new worship leader.  We have had two different people so far come visit the church and play with the worship band.

I don’t know what is going on behind the scenes as the church leadership interviews each candidate, but I am reminded about what is important in a worship leader.

Obviously, you want someone who can sing well and probably play an instrument or two, but that person isn’t so difficult to find.  No matter how nice they are to listen to, before a church hires them, there are other things that need to be considered, that I think are equally, if not more important than how well they can sing and play.

Christian Life

Anyone that is leading in the church should be someone who seeks to follow God and His word.  That is the utmost qualification.  Whether you’re looking for a senior minister, a worship minister, a life group leader, or a kindergarten Sunday School teacher, any seriously-considered applicant must have a relationship with Jesus.  No ifs, ands, or buts.


A worship leader isn’t someone who simply sings and plays an instrument.  A worship leader is leading the people of God into worship.  If a musician isn’t worshiping God, they shouldn’t be a worship leader.  Now, I understand that we don’t always feel very worshipful, but a worship leader should be someone who is regularly worshiping God.


I am going to spend a little more time on this one, simply because most people will agree with my first two qualifications, but less will consider this important.

Ozark Christian College has three different degree plans for music ministry.  One of the degree plans, Bachelor of Music and Worship, at this time requires 139 credit hours of study.  Forty-five of those are music and worship related classes.  Twenty of those include college orientation, grammar, writing, psychology, teaching, physical education, and speech.  The seventy-four that are left are Bible and Bible-related classes such as evangelism and missions.  This music degree has more credit hours in Bible than it has in music.

If someone is going to stand up in front of people and teach about God, even if it is in song, I expect that they know what they are talking about. My hope is that when a church is looking for a worship leader, they ask candidates the same questions they would ask of a senior minister. I realize that not everyone in a church believes the same things, but I do not want someone who disagrees with or misunderstands fundamental ideas of the faith, such as who Jesus is, sin, and redemption.

The worship leader needs to be able to choose songs that are theologically sound.  There is something about music that sticks around for a while.  If you sing a song in church, it is likely that you will find yourself singing it later in the week.  Maybe you’ll download the song and listen to it over and over.  If you’re anything like me, once you’ve heard a song enough times, you can go ten years without hearing it, and when you finally do hear it again, you can still sing every word.  Music sticks around.  It needs to be truth.

These days, Christian music is given a lot of grief about not having any theological depth.  We need music in the church that teaches theological truth, but this isn’t even what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about those songs that are just wrong.

The very first song I noticed misusing scripture was one based on John 12:32.

“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself” (NASB).

It really is a nice song, singing about how he will lift up Jesus and that lifting up Jesus will cause others to come to Jesus.  Evangelism at its best.

Unfortunately, the writer of this song failed to read the rest of the passage in John 12.

“Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.  And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”  But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He would die.  The crowd then answered Him, “We have heard out of the Law that the Christ is to remain forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must by lifted up?  Who is this Son of Man?”  So Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you.  Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes.  While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.”   John 12:31-36 (NASB).

Jesus was not talking about a figurative lifting up.  He was talking about His crucifixion!  So this song and others like it are essentially singing about crucifying Jesus.  But if someone simply read verse 32 without studying the verses around it, he or she would not even know it.

I think this is a minor example, since the song isn’t really teaching anything that is theologically inaccurate, even though it is misinterpreting the scripture it is based on.  But it is a reminder to pay attention to the songs you sing in church and on your own.

If you are a worship leader, or if your church is in the process of hiring a new worship leader, be sure that you look for more than just a good musician.

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2 Responses to The Worship Leader

  1. Thank you for sharing this post. I hope you find a new worship leader that fits you and your congregation's needs. I have been going to the Universal Life Church for some time now and really like how they operate.

    1. Jake, we have recently hired a worship minister. I've not had any direct interaction with him up to this point, so I can't say with absolute certainty that he fills all these qualifications, but so far, I've been pleased with him!


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