Worship Leaders vs. Song Leaders

Posted: June 13, 2011 in Church, Uncategorized, Worship

One of the things I think God has been hammering into my brain lately is the difference between a worship leader and song leader.  While this may be oversimplified and maybe “song leader” isn’t an adequate concept, it’s a least a starting point to think about the differences:

  • A song leader leads from the stage.  A worship leader leads both onstage and off.
  • A song leader tries to get the crowd to sing.  A worship leader tries to get a crowd to worship.
  • A song leader presumes the crowd should “get into it.”  A worship leader realizes it is his/her job to engage the crowd and lead them into what worship is.
  • A song leader attends.  A worship leader serves.
  • A song leader is the star of the show.  A worship leader attempts to be transparent, so only Christ is visible.
I think the heart of this is that anyone with a modicum of talent can stand in front of a crowd, play a song, and attempt to get a crowd to respond.  But leading must be so much more than that.

First, your life offstage MUST reflect what you are attempting to convince people to do when you are onstage.  People can always spot a fake, especially if they encounter you outside of the church walls and realize that your life – your convictions, your behavior – do not line up with what you claim to believe.

Second, you have to know your crowd – personally and spiritually.  If they are not lifting their hands, if they’re not clapping, if they’re not singing along – ask the question:  Are you LEADING them to do so?  Do you ask them to?  Do you let them know what freedom to worship means?  Better yet, do YOU, as a leader, look excited to be engaged in the act of worship?  It’s too easy to blame the crowd.  It’s much harder to examine how you lead.

Finally, how is your own walk with God?  If it’s lousy, then your effectiveness as a leader often wanes because what your claiming to celebrate is actually elusive to you.

    “These people say they are mine.
   They honor me with their lips,
      but their hearts are far from me.” – Isaiah 29:13

We must begin leading in our own lives by leading ourselves into the act of worship.  If we do not make time  – on our own – to worship and pray and read the word of God, then we not only are suffering spiritually, but we are also denying ourselves the power that drives worship.

And anything less than worship is merely singing.


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