Worship leaders have tremendous influence on a church. You can preach powerful, thought-provoking, divinely-inspired sermons, but people won’t be humming them on their way to work the next day. We want worship leaders who are fully equipped to pastor the church in worship; who model for us how to respond to God’s presence.
And while many pastors and church planters have been worship leaders themselves, there are many who have not. So how can they train someone in to fill this highly important role?
Well, there’s good news here. Because, while musical ability is certainly a part of a worship-leader’s essential skill set, much of what makes for a really effective worship leader happens off the stage and behind the scenes. So once you’ve found someone who can play a few chords and carry a tune, here are some ways that you can train them to lead worship really well, even if you aren’t musical.
Teach them Vineyard values for worship.
The Vineyard was born in the context of a group of folks who were getting together and writing simple songs directly to Jesus, and we shoot for that same kind of accessible intimacy and honesty in worship today. Teach developing worship leaders how to direct themselves to God before they try to engage in worship. There are plenty of excellent books and articles for you to use. Here are a few:
- This classic article on intimacy in worship by John Wimber
- This article about Vineyard worship values from Vineyard Worship
- To Know You More by Andy Park
Try talking through some of these with your worship trainee. Discuss how Vineyard values can play out in the specific context of your church, culture, and geographical area. Talk through how they could help people enter into intimate, authentic worship at your weekly services.
Teach them think theologically about leading worship.
A good worship song is not a theology textbook: it doesn’t need to cover every intricate aspect of your statement of faith. But it does need to reflect a correct understanding of what we believe about God and his Kingdom.
So make sure your worship trainees understand Kingdom theology, and sit down and analyze some songs together. What message do they actually communicate, and does it line up with our beliefs? Then help them think through all the songs they play regularly. Do they only engage with one or two aspects of God and our relationship with him? Teach them how to cover a broad range of topics that reflect the rich vastness of God’s character.
Teach them how to partner with the Holy Spirit.
The difference between playing music and leading worship is partnership with the Holy Spirit.
The difference between playing music and leading worship is partnership with the Holy Spirit. Talk your worship leaders through how you do this. After a service, ask them to tell you their observations of how you followed the Holy Spirit’s lead, and then explain to them why you did what you did. Help them think through ways they could respond to what God is doing in worship.
Then, give them lots of opportunity to practice. Small groups are great for this, because they have more freedom to try things out and make mistakes than they do up on a stage in front of a larger group of people.
Teach them to serve.
Worship leaders can sometimes have a humility problem. The perceived prestige of having a platform and a microphone can be an unhealthy draw for some. So teach your worship leaders to serve in low-profile ways first. Service is a form of worship—show them how to be worshippers by mopping floors or changing diapers.
Service is a form of worship
If you want more ideas for how to train a worship leader, check out this recording of our webinar about it from earlier this summer.
And don’t miss our upcoming webinar with a panel of experts from Vineyard Worship on Friday, September 9th, at 3pm. Register here.