What Defines a Successful Worship Leader?

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Everyone wants to be successful.

Notice I didn’t say rich, or famous, or anything like that, but successful. Being successful can look like loads of money and attention, but at its core, being successful is about accomplishing something you were trying to do.

But what does it look like to be a successful Worship Leader? How can we define success for a Worship Leader? I doubt it has to do with how many people clap along on Sunday or even how many Crowder tunes we’re able to squeeze in a setlist.

These are important and helpful questions to ask, but I think first we’ve got to have a healthy view of the purpose of a Worship Leader.

I’m personally a big fan of how my friend Bob Kauflin defines the purpose of a worship leader in his book, Worship Matters (pp. 54). Here’s what he said, with the same formatting he used to help make it easier to digest:

A faithful worship leader magnifies the greatness of God in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit by skillfully combining God’s Word with music, thereby motivating the gathered church to proclaim the gospel, to cherish God’s presence, and to live for God’s glory.

Talk about some meat. A good chunk of the rest of Bob’s book is devoted to mapping out each of these phrases, but I think it gives us a great perspective of what it looks like to be a Worship Leader.

With this purpose in mind, what are some things that we can use as markers to identify successful Worship Leaders and even success in our own ministry? I don’t think theres a definitive list, but here’s my crack at a few things we can use to see that we’re successful as Worship Leaders:

Our CHURCH Understands That WORSHIP is MORE Than a Time on Sunday.

I’m not sure we can qualify our efforts as successful if our church understands worship as a time during a gathering on Sunday mornings. People seem to naturally gravitate to this idea, especially if we don’t teach against it. We have to intentionally teach our church family about the holistic nature of worship.

By holistic, I mean how worship is every part of our lives. I’m talking Romans 12:1 kinda stuff. I think we’re successful Worship Leaders if our leading causes people to worship at work on Monday and at their PTA meeting on Tuesday night and at their kid’s soccer games on Saturday. Our church families NEED to understand this for their own spiritual health.

Our SONGS Clearly Magnify JESUS Through the GOSPEL.

When we take time to examine the words that we’re singing, what kind of picture are the painting? Do they paint a picture of a shallow relationship with a far-away God who does nice things for us, or do they tell the story of the Gospel and lift high the name of Jesus?

This is something I’ll do regularly, as a way of checking myself and ensuring that we’re always heading in the right direction. I think it’s ok to sing songs that speak about us and our relationship with God, as long as it is framed within the centrality of Jesus and God’s great love for us. Our songs NEED to be focused on Jesus, His cross, and the Gospel.

Our PEOPLE Are More Important Than Our PROGRAMMING.

This one can get tricky, because I think a lot of us (myself included) can be fooled into thinking our job is primarily programming focused. Wrong. Our job as Worship Leaders is completely people focused.

Why do we lead songs on Sunday? To help God’s PEOPLE worship Him together in song. Why do we program cool elements into our gatherings? To help God’s PEOPLE better engage in the Gospel story. Everything we do comes back to serving God firstly, but also serving our church family.

We can’t let our attention become entirely focused on programming and details that we forget the importance of pastoring the people God has placed in our care. This isn’t just the church family, but also your teammates, fellow worship leaders, and others in your ministry. Our people NEED to come before our programming desires, always.

Our TEAM Sees Themselves as SERVANTS.

This speaks deeply to the culture that we are building on our teams. Do your musicians see themselves as rock stars* or feet washers? Does your tech team think they are ignored slaves* or door holders? Before anything else, our teams should understand and know that their main role is to be a humble servant of the Gracious King.

Entitlement and pride are nasty things to uproot, especially when its spread among several team members. The best thing to combat that is humility and service. Honestly, this is simply a shift of PERSPECTIVE. We are tasked with leading those in our ministry, including their perspectives. Let our teams be marked by humility, gratitude, and servants willing to serve Jesus.

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Download a Free Underscore

Download a free underscore for worship: piano sheet music and MP3s in every key. There’s nothing like it on or off the Internet!

Find Hymns That Match Your Favorite Worship Songs

Which hymns go well with Bethel’s Goodness of God? Search at HYMNDEX.COM.

YouTube Worship Playlists!

From Worshipflow editor Don Chapman:

I like to listen to Youtube videos/podcasts as I drive around and have wished I could find a good, current playlist of all the top worship songs.

I can’t find any! So I made my own on the Worshipflow Youtube channel!

You’ll find playlists for the top CCLI, Praisecharts and CCM radio hits updated every week.

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