Today, I am going to make the case that worship leading is a practice. This interdisciplinary skill can be learned. Certainly some in the Body may be gifted in worship leading, some maybe for just a season of life. However, since worshiping is humanity’s primary purpose and the Church’s primary act, the act of worship leading can be learned at a basic level.
First, there needs to be a foundation for which one leads worship. As has been distinguished before, this includes primary theology and also ought to include secondary theology. There are many wonderful resources, some included at our Links page, that can assist someone in developing this foundation.
Through primary theology, one experiences the living Word in worship. This is a case for experience forming our understanding, or the rule of prayer forming our rule of believing (lex orandi, lex credendi). Through our reflection on this real and active experience, we can further understand the life and world we live in (secondary theology).
After having established a foundation through experience and reflection, one can begin to understand a basic rubric, or ordo, to worship. The leader begins to understand their role in gathered worship. The worship design, or liturgy, can be constructed (or understood, depending on the tradition) to be theologically sound, and the leader can know where how the worship progresses.
Then, after excellent preparation through practice, just as an athlete would, so too the worship leader may stand before the local people of God and lead the congregation in worship. Knowing that worship comes from God, the worship leader can be assured that it is not his or her work, but the work of the transcendent One who is also immanent within Creation and His people.
A Journey and a Process
Maybe you have considered being a worship leader before, or feel that you are called lead worship. Whether this is a life long calling or a seasonal calling, whether you are gifted or believe that this is the way God is calling you to serve his local body, you can learn the practice of worship leading. Now is the time to begin leading worship.
The two pillars we explored that set the stage for worship leading become the pillars of developing the skill of worship leading. We experience worship from a leader, or celebrant’s, position, and we reflect upon the worship and leadership after the event. We form our theologies and philosophy, adjust our actions, and lead again.
Worship leading is a practice. You can lead worship. It can be taught and it can be learned. We need elders who will teach worship leadership, and we need youth who will learn to carry on the worship of the one holy, catholic (universal), and apostolic church. If one has a calling on their life to lead worship, then we will teach them and if they are humble, they will learn what it means to lead worship.
Jason Palmer is the Administrator of TalkingWorship.com. Jason has a Bachelor of Science in Ministry with a Worship Arts Major and Music Minor. He has lead worship for evangelical churches for 7 years and desires to see worship leaders become confident in their calling.