How To Be a Worship Leader: 6 Steps to Get Started Leading Worship

When I was 15 years old, a leader in my youth group passed around a clipboard asking if we were interested in becoming a worship leader.

It was my understanding that the cool kids in youth group were on the worship team, so why not join the club?

I look at my misguided motives after more than two decades of leading worship and realize that God can pull you into his calling in a variety of creative ways.

Fortunately, this is not the only way to start if you’re wondering how to become a worship leader. That’s why I’m going to give you some practical steps you can take if you feel God has called you to the exciting, life-changing ministry of worship leading.

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1. Find OUt If You are Called to be a Worship Leader

This is a simple first question to ask yourself. But I don’t think you need to answer it right away. The fact that you are reading this article is a good indication God is calling you.

Still, be aware that it may not be your purpose. Worship leading is not for everyone.

The best way forward is to knock on the door. God (and perhaps those around you) will make it clear if this is not your calling. If it’s not, no worries — God has something better for you.

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2. Build Your Skills

So let’s assume you are called to lead worship. Where do you start? It may seem obvious, but you need to become proficient in your instrument and/or vocal ability.

Nothing tests your skills like leading a group of people in worship. There are no do-overs, or at least there shouldn’t be.

I touched a musical instrument for the first time just two years before I started leading worship. And I’m pretty sure I had never sung in front of anyone.

I wasn’t ready.

I remembered the first song I led from piano. I struggled to get my fingers to the right keys on the keyboard while singing some version of the tune. I’m sure it was dreadful.

Luckily, God doesn’t require musical mastery before we start leading worship. But he does want us to take our craft seriously. Psalm 33:3 says “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully with a shout of joy.” (NASB)

Here are some of the most effective ways to get ready to start leading worship at your church:

Get some instruction. If you can afford it, get lessons. Learn the basics of your instrument and learn music theory. Knowing the building blocks of music will help you tremendously down the road. I also recommend getting vocal exercise materials such as those found at Vocal Artistry. Your voice needs to be worked out just like any other muscle.

Hang out with worship leaders. One of the best ways to pick up worship leading skills is to build relationships with people already doing it. Take advantage of every opportunity to be around them, jam with them, and be on their worship teams.

Study the masters. Find a song you love by a big artist like Hillsong or Chris Tomlin. Dedicate yourself to learning the song. Look up the instrumental parts on Youtube, then try playing along and keeping up with the recording.

Practice. The more comfortable you are with your voice, instrument, and the songs, the more freedom you’re going to encourage when you lead worship.

3. PUT YOURSELF UNDER AUTHORITY

As a worship leader, you are under the authority of the senior pastor, youth pastor, and other worship leaders in your church. Accept their leadership.

With this attitude in your heart, approach the people in charge and say you are willing to help with worship in any capacity. Keep in mind that they might say you’re not ready, or ask you to do something else entirely.

Sometimes God puts us in lowly positions to see how we handle it. Only then does he release bigger things.

4. Speaking of Lowly Positions, be Faithful in the Small Things

As someone who has trained up many young people into worship leaders, I can say I spent most of my time with people who proved their commitment. They showed up on time, practiced outside of group rehearsal, and demonstrated eagerness to learn.

I’ve also flat ignored a few “aspiring” leaders who wanted to be on stage but didn’t want to put in the time. Luckily they are the exception.

Great worship leaders often start as instrumentalists or vocalists on teams that others lead. I can’t think of a better way to become a worship leader than to serve under someone who is doing the thing you want to do.

As the leaders see your dedication, they will promote you.

5. Seek Opportunities to Lead Worship

You may come from a church with an established worship team for your adult, high school, and junior high programs. Perhaps there’s no room for you.

That’s OK. What about the children’s ministry? How about the senior citizens in your church or a neighborhood mid-week small group? Chances are they don’t have a worship leader. What a great place to gain some experience while serving a potentially neglected segment of your church.

6. Be Reliable and Available

Ninety-five percent of becoming a worship leading is just showing up. Be consistent, week after week, year after year. You’ll see doors fly open everywhere you go.

Conversely, if the pastor and leadership can’t rely on you to show up prepared to lead, doors will shut.

But when they open, a worship leader’s favorite word should be “yes”. If someone asks you to do something, just do it.

There were countless times I led worship for a seemingly small event and someone there asked me to do something bigger. That’s just how it works. No shortcuts.

So if you really want to know how to become a worship leader, it’s pretty simple.  Keep at it. Be persistent. It will pay off.

Now You Can Start Your Worship Leading Journey

I hope I’ve given you some really practical and helpful tips on how to begin worship leading at your church, small group, or another ministry.

Yet, maybe I’ve been a little too practical so let me end with one thought.

None of this will help you if you are not living a life of worship. It’s really hard or impossible to lead worship if your life is not consistent with what you’re singing.

So with that I bless you in your worship leading endeavors. I’d love to hear about your journey. Leave a message in the comments below.

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Featured Image: Greg on the Run

31 thoughts on “How To Be a Worship Leader: 6 Steps to Get Started Leading Worship

  1. Very good teaching and resource for song leaders. Thank you. I am serving the Lord in that capacity now since I was saved 38 years ago. I just love to sing even before I became born again. I was asked to do the vocal first and I’ve felt the touch of God many times… Worship in solemn music is like praying. Joyful singing is either magnifying God or lifting others in worship.

  2. Hi Deborah, I would probably get a smartphone and Spotify Premium, and a portable bluetooth speaker. I think Spotify has a lot of background tracks you can sing over. Another option would be to look up the instrumental track on YouTube and play that through your smartphone to the bluetooth speaker. Then you and your group can sing over the music. Or, most retirement homes have a piano, so you could find someone who plays and use that for accompaniment.

  3. Thank you for great “starter” info on being a worship leader -but I think I need to be more specific – I want to form a group to sing worship songs in nursing homes, seniors citizens buildings etc.
    I need to know where do I get sound tracks, what type of musical box I need and so on – I’m also a senior but with a passion for doing things for other senior citizens – so any help that you can give me would be very appreciated. God bless

  4. I’m already a worship Leader in my local church but I still found your tips very helpful. Especially where you talk about being available and reliable, always saying yes to opportunities that arise. Thank you so much. God Bless You

  5. Amen to your blessing Tim.
    Thank you so much Tim for these wonderul and powerful tips. They’re really of great help. I’m willing and ready to follow every bit of it and I know the journey will certainly pay off!
    God bless you more 🙂

  6. Hello, I really enjoyed your steps on becoming a worship leader. I just have a couple of questions. I’ve been on my church worship team for the past 5 years and I’ve been called to worship I truly believe. I notice the same people and leaders on the team singing or leading every week and I’m hardly ever scheduled. They know my heart for worship/leading and I feel like they don’t take me seriously. The same people singing/leading is not insipiring to me I want to do more and express my ideas and want to sing more. I’ve taken our worship academy and spiritual development classes and I’m always inspired by my own worshipping at home. So I just need some help on how to handle the situation because I don’t want to come off rude or pushy. I love our team but we just don’t communicate very well together and we don’t spend enough time with one another personally. Thank you I hope what I’m saying makes sense. I just feel led to amp up the volume on our team. It’s not about us ITS ALL FOR GOD!

  7. Thanks for your thoughts! Yes, I think anything we can do to involve future worship leaders is a good idea. I really like the acoustic worship session idea!

  8. Great article, what caught my attention was the fact that you’d only been playing for 2 years before leading. I hadn’t thought of leading worship for a church until after learning and then playing acoustic guitar for my church- in less than one year! It IS possible to do great things if that is what God has in mind for you. I would like to add to your list to do not be afraid to ask for input and counsel from those who shepherd you for their advice and input. For example, ask your pastor for advice on how to proceed if you felt a call to work within the church setting. My pastor (and our worship leader) was able to provide me great input as a person who served on various teams/ministries (not just the praise and worship team) when we were with our church. I’m glad I found your site. I hope to look around at more of your resources, not just this article.

    Lastly, I wish I had thought to offer guitar practice/worship opportunity to whomever was interested after worship service at our church earlier. It was a great opportunity to help others who are also interested in leading through worship one day. Maybe you could offer this at your church! I’ve also hosted an “acoustic worship session” in my home for anyone interested in coming over to play worship songs together.

  9. This is incredible! the information explicated here is of paramount importance to me if not to all worshippers .I thank God for the author and vow to utilise these etiquettes.God bless.

  10. Thanks for these tips! I’ve already experienced everything you’ve mentioned including reluctantly saying yes to leading worship at a radio station’s morning staff devotional time. I’m not confused about my current skill level and now neither are they! 😂 I bombed a song I could play pretty well but being asked to lead worship in Israel in 6 mos., I knew I needed to take some lumps and learn some humiliating lessons that will ensure my heart is in the right place to help usher worshipers to the throne room of grace! Your advice confirms my experience and I look forward to the opportunities to be a good servant! Thanx again!

  11. Thanks a lot I hope and believe that if its God’s will I will be a worship leader the are really helpful. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with me as I embark on this journey

  12. WOW! Amazing advice. Thank you so much. Some of us are blessed with voice but leading is a problem and i have always wished and wanted to song lead but i will be patient even in the place where i am at to learn from those that are already there. Thanks a lot. God richly bless you.

  13. Thank you so much for the great advice, I must say that I am sure now that I am on the correct path with my Worship music as a guitarist, I was taking guitar lessons from one of our Church Worship team members, she knew my aim was to just become one the band members but did not force it on my side and took her time teaching me. Then last year the 17th September 2017 one Sunday morning I was asked to join in the band as none of the guitar players was available, I obviously grabbed the opportunity, even though it was nerve wrecking, it went not bad anyway, since then they added me to the group as only a guitar player, I have recently started singing along also and they gave me a mike and all, I am still learning but do not miss out on any of the Praise and Worship practice sessions weekly and I do not miss any Sunday service for that matter, since I stated with them, I do love Chris Tomlin’s music and do practice his songs on my own time a swell as the songs we play in Church, I strongly believe that this a Calling from God for me because I can relate to all the steps you have written. That is why I was googling about Worship Leading because I can feel that this is my next step as some of our current Worship leaders is busy leaving or moving out of our town, I play and practice next to my senior pastor every Sunday and take all the advice he gives me and work hard on it, just cant shake the feeling that very soon I will be asked to lead the Worship.

    Kind Regard,

  14. Thank you for the great advice on Worship leading. I love singing but never had the opportunity to worship lead. Our church just started last year and I’m currently doing the sound board and backup singing. I guess God has been telling me “Wait!”. I’m preparing myself for worship leading now so I’ll be ready when the time God says “You’re ready”.

  15. Thank you Sir. I appreciate the teaching I will go over it again and again.
    Am personally struggling with open doors ,what do advice

  16. Hey David, I’m glad this post helped. I think it’s really cool that you stepped in and used whatever ability you have to get started leading worship. The Word says not to despise small beginnings. So even if you feel like you don’t know everything, or you just play G shapes, you are proving to be faithful with what you have. The Word also says anyone who is faithful with little will be trusted with much. So keep at it, and if I can help in any way, let me know.

  17. Tim, this is really great. I accidentally stumbled upon this site looking for good songs for praise and worship. I am on deployment right now and it became aware to me that there was nobody to lead worship at our chapel service. Some folks knew I had some formal training and experience playing the guitar and asked me to step in. I warned them that I’ve never sang and played in front of anyone, but that I could play if someone sang. Well, long story short, nobody else wanted to sing either so I just kind of took over and incorporated “newer” worship songs into the lineup. I am feeling like God placed me here for His purpose, but I’m finding myself limited by my voice range (and frankly feeling weird about always playing G shapes). I don’t know if God is calling me to volunteer for a worship team when I get home, but i’m starting to consider it. The advice is wonderful and I look forward to continuing browsing this website. Many blessings to you.

  18. Yes, I think we all feel like what we are doing is small compared to the worship “stars” we hear about. But our calling is no less important than theirs. Thanks for sticking with your call to lead worship.

  19. Even though I’ve been leading worship for 4 years or so, I know I’m never above learning & improving. I loved what you said about being “faithful in small things”. God knows us better than we know us, & sometimes when WE think we’re ready, He KNOWS we aren’t. God weighs motives. So trusting in HIS great love and wisdom,& humbling ourselves to be in a “lowly” position can be just the next needed stepping stone to move into our calling. Thank you for the reminder!!

  20. Thanks for the comment Brad! That’s great that you are doing your best to serve where needed. You know God’s calling you to lead worship when you’re not seeking it, but you do it to fill a need. If you’d like, we can hook up via Skype or phone sometime and I can give you some pointers!

  21. This is a huge help. I volunteered my time as a guitar player after the person who was leading worship left and we were just singing to the audio tracks. I have not had a microphone in front of me yet because I’m not the greatest singer, but more importantly, I struggle with playing and singing at the same time. However, I’m feeling more and more called to do so, and I’m sure the microphone will be in front of me soon. I appreciate this site, and I’m glad I stumbled across it because I have ZERO idea on what I’m doing. I’ve played guitar for over 20 years, but when I say I’ve played guitar, it means I own one…or five…and I like to strum a little. However, I am willing to do whatever God is calling me to do, and if that means I have to stumble through a Worship set to glorify Him, then so be it. Thy will be done.

  22. Thank you for sharing. I will put these points into practice and i pray and hope to grow by grace.

  23. this will surely help me a lot as i start my journey as a worship leader❤❤❤

  24. i think those who are worship leaders should really take it serious because god is the one that placed them in that position and gave them that gift.so if it wasn’t for god it would be impossible to even have that position.

  25. I had been worship leader for like 2 years or more and when I was just starting, sometimes I question God ‘why me?’ I am not a good singer… or has a good quality of voice. But then sometimes I’ll think that we don’t have to ask God these questions. God sees something in you that He knew that you are called to be a worship leader. Instead of asking of ‘why me?’ just say yes and be prepared. God bless!

  26. What clear practical tips for those getting started. I wish I had had this when I started at 15. I had no clue what I was doing! God had much in store for me though, it’s been amazing to see what He has done over the years. Thank you for your willingness to help and share your wisdom.

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