The role of a worship leader

The role of a worship leader

Who qualifies as a worship leader? This is a question frequently raised in discussions at workshops on worship leading. Worship leading usually falls on people who are skilled in music or gifted with a good voice. But more than skills and personality, the worship leader’s role extends beyond “performance”.

The worship leader plays a vital role in inviting and encouraging the congregation to worship. Enthusiasm, authenticity and charisma are qualities that will help the worship leader engage the congregation to fully and honestly participate in the worship experience.

While we recognise that worship is an expression of praise, it is not the main point. Worship is about our relationship with God. A conversation exists in this relationship. Together with praise, lament, confession, intercession and gratitude are also expressed. The worship leader facilitates this dialogue through prayers and music. In praying, the worship leader prompts the congregation to respond. With instrumental music, meditation or reflection is inspired. In singing, the worship leader brings everyone together to sing a corporate “alleluia”!

Worship leadership becomes exciting when one’s concept of worship is broader than just music style preference. Factors that encourage congregational singing are linked to culture, mission, spiritual formation and discipleship. When all of these are considered, singing together allows congregations to expand in the breadth and depth of their understanding of the worship.

This is not to be taken lightly because we are talking about the spiritual nourishment and care of the congregation. In other words, the congregation’s spiritual formation is also at stake.

This points us to the worship leaders’ resources. Is there enough music and prayers for the congregation to express praise, say sorry, give thanks, or express lament? What about songs of loving our neighbour? Should these be set in either traditional or contemporary style? The worship leader (and the committee or worship team) ought to take stock of the church’s repertoire, determine what might be lacking and figure out what fits the church’s context.  Resources may be vast, but planning requires thoughtful, prayerful thinking.

If you are a worship leader, how much thought have you given to these issues? Remember that your role is to inspire and nurture the congregation towards a deeper reverence and connection with God and the community.

Judith Laoyan-Mosomos is the Director for Worship & Church Music at the Methodist School of Music and a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.