How to be a worship leader - 6 steps

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.

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.

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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 other 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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12 comments on “How To Be a Worship Leader: 6 Steps to Get Started Leading WorshipAdd yours →

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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 if it wasn’t for god it would be impossible to even have that position.

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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!!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

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

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