Pastors: How to Find the Right Praise and Worship Leader
Being the right praise and worship leader for your church is a key consideration for most Pastors and Leaders in church. Put the wrong guy, or girl, in this job, and your life can be made a misery. Get it right, and your church will begin to flourish even more.
So Pastors, be very careful when you select your worship leaders. It may not be the guy with all the musical talent and it may not be the best looking girl or the one with the big voice. What you really want is God’s choice, and while I cannot hope to make that choice for you, I can help to steer you in the right direction…
Pastors: How to Select the Right Worship Leader
1. Select leaders of ability:
Just because they can sing or play, does not mean that they can lead an entire band. Your prospective leader should show leadership qualities in other areas, such as secular work, cell groups, evangelism, kid’s ministry, etc. Being a worship leader is exactly that: leading! So a great musician is not necessarily a great leader.
2. Select leaders of some musical ability:
They don’t have to be musicians or singers, but man it helps! You will find that if the person leading has a good knowledge and feel for music that the worship will tend to flow a lot more. Again I stress that the best musicians are not always the best leaders, even though they know the music side of things well. However, having a good knowledge of music and how it fits together in worship is a huge asset.
3. Select leaders who are teachable:
Great leaders are teachable. If they are not, you don’t want them, and it doesn’t matter if they are Mozart or Beethoven! You have to trust them, you have to work with them and you have to live with the consequences, so do yourself and your people a huge favour and chose humble, teachable leaders.
4. Select leaders who take responsibility:
If something happens and the worship is not all it could be when I am leading, then it is MY FAULT! I don’t blame the piano player, the singers or the pastor. It is my job, my passion and my joy to lead the worship, and my responsibility when anything, small or large, goes wrong. This pretty much ties in with the teachability thing, so look for leaders who care passionately about leading others into worship. Passing the buck is not on in the worship team. The buck stops with the leader.
If a worship leader really bombs out in worship, then I take it very personally as worship director, and move to deal directly with the problem. Don’t blame others, but be responsible.
5. Select leaders who love what they are doing:
It is not enough to be good at it, they must be passionate about leading people into worship. As a leader, I love, and get a huge amount of joy, out of seeing others lead into worship, to a greater and deeper experience with Jesus. This takes on a whole new perspective when, as is often the case with big churches, the worship leader is paid. If anyone does this for the money alone, I believe they are PROSTITUTING their gift. If pay is there, fine, but let us never see this as a motivation. Jesus did not die on the cross to give us a job!
6. Select leaders who lead by inspiration:
There is a school of thought these days that leaders upset everyone because they are strong leaders. They make sure everything is done their way, or the offenders are out! They force their opinion on others and make them obey. I don’t believe these are strong leaders; these are dictators! True leaders inspire others to follow. They are firm where they need to be, but usually smooth over offenses by leading with humility and gentleness. They don’t offend the whole music team, they inspire them. These are the worship leaders you want.
I would hesitate to place someone who is not musical into the role of worship leader, because it makes it so much harder for them. That is not to say it cannot be done, but be careful. Believe me; it is easier to not appoint someone than it is to remove them from to job.
Praise and Worship Leaders: How to be the Right Leader
Here’s a quick word of advice to worship leaders: YOU ARE NOT GOD!!!! I’m one of you, so I can say things like that! You must never operate out of fellowship with the pastor. If you disagree, then you should defer to him, even if he is wrong. However, this does not preclude offering your opinion. Whatever happens, you need to be subject to him, and if you cannot be, tender your resignation and move to a church where you can serve with a clear conscience.
Here are some suggestions on how to serve your pastor:
1. Have a real desire to serve the pastor:
Tell him you want to serve his vision, not your own. You have desires and visions in the Lord, but you will never put those before the pastor’s vision, because he is the leader of the church. I can testify that, as I served Bill Newman and ignored my own desires for success in music, the Lord opened the door to allow me to realize my own dreams, through Bill’s ministry. If you have a dream, make yourself subject to Godly Leadership, and watch the Lord bring it to pass!
2. Ask what he wants:
Does he want special songs that fit with the message? Does he want a specific style? If the congregation is above 70, chances are they don’t want rocky music. If they are young families, they may not be happy with all to wall hymns. Does he want open worship? If your church or your pastor is uncomfortable with certain things such as open worship, singing in tongues or hand raising, you’d better find out before you lead worship!
3. Ask about the format of the meeting:
Where is announcements, offering, etc? What type of song does he prefer for these? Discuss options with him and mention specific songs.
4. Ask about music being played behind prayers:
Some pastors love it, others hate it. If you have visiting ministry, ask them what they prefer, because not everyone is the same. You are there to serve, so do your best to do all that is required of you.
5. Ask how much talking he wants:
You are not there to preach, so ask if a prayer of, say, 30 seconds or the reading of a passage of Scripture is appropriate. Pastors hate having their meeting hijacked by the worship leader!
6. Ask how much time the pastor wants you to take:
AND KEEP TO TIME!!! Whatever the Spirit may be doing, do not dishonour your pastor by going over time. If God is about to cut lose in worship, ASK the pastor if he wants to continue or stop.
7. Never criticize the pastor:
Even if you feel he has made an incorrect decision, never criticize the pastor to others in the music team. You are there to serve, and if you feel his decision stopped the move of God, let God sort it out.
8. Remember, you are responsible for how the worship goes:
The buck stops with you, so if the worship time is poor, don’t look to blame the drummer, the guitarist, the organist, the singers or the overhead operator. The fault is yours. Deal with it, and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
9. Be an inspirational leader, not Hitler!
As mentioned in the pastors section, there is a school of thought going around that real leaders are strong and offend everyone. “It’s my way or the highway, dude!” This is, I believe, poor leadership. If you have to constantly force people to obey you, then you are out of your league. You need to lead by inspiring them to follow you, encouraging them when they fail and rebuking them with humility and grace when they disobey. This is not being soft, or trying to be popular, but in my experience really good leaders are popular, even in the face of unpopular decisions. By the same token, if someone refuses to tow the line, strong action may need to be taken. I have a chapter later in the book on Band management to tackle such issues.
I have been on stage several times when, in my opinion, worship has really bombed out. On one occasion, I was merely playing bass, and thus could not influence proceedings, but once or twice with Bill Newman I have come and apologized to him for my worship team missing the mark. He consoled and encouraged me, but I tell you when I walked out on stage the next night I was making doubly sure that the band was on the ball and the mistakes did not happen again. Accept responsibility, then change it!
You see, if you want the many, many great things that come with being a praise and worship leader, you have to be prepared to take the difficult times as well. If something goes wrong, don’t persecute yourself. Examine it, find out what went wrong and change it. Feeling sorry for yourself cannot be part of leadership, because it makes you useless to both your pastor and the Lord.
So inspire your people and lead them with confidence, because your pastor had confidence in you when he appointed you. Don’t let him down, and don’t let yourself down. Study the above points, make them part of your leadership life, watch God give you the privilege of leading folks into His presence and also bringing the best out in your troops. Remember, you are anointed, special and tremendously privileged! You are a praise and worship leader!