What Does a Worship Leader Do? In Closing…

I was going to entitle this post “Final Thoughts,” but that’s probably not going to happen. One of the reasons I started this blog was to explore this role in an ongoing way. But this does mark the end of the series on the role of the corporate worship leader. Really.

If you’re a musician who is responsible to lead others in praising God, I pray you’ve been served by this series. I’m grateful for those of you who have taken the time to post an encouraging comment, expand upon my thoughts, or ask questions. We need to continually ask ourselves if what we’re doing is lining up with Scripture.

On most Wednesday mornings I have the joy of meeting with the 19 men who are currently in the Sovereign Grace Pastor’s College. These men have moved to Gaithersburg, Maryland to spend 9 intense months of study preparing for future or continued pastoral ministry. Each week, one of the guys is assigned to lead us in corporate worship for about 25 minutes. We then take 15-20 minutes to evaluate how their leadership was effective, and where it could have been better. It’s always a rich time.

Some of the students have no musical ability. One is actually tone deaf. And yet I have each one of them lead the class at some point during the year. Why do I do that?

When it comes to exalting God, musical skill is a valuable, but optional, component. Yes, God often commands us to sing His praises. Yes, the longest book in the Bible is a book of songs. Yes, singing is referred to over 400 times in Scripture. Yes, but…

We gather to magnify the glory of Christ, not the glory of our music. We can still tend to think of worship and music as synonymous. They’re not. Anyone who knows the Savior, loves God’s Word, and has some gift of leadership, can lead a congregation in thanking and praising God for His character and His deeds. They can recount God’s mercies, describe His great power, and pray for God’s name to be exalted in our lives. They can share testimonies of God’s faithfulness, lead us in confessing our sins, and remind us of the glorious Redeemer who endured the wrath of God in our place. All of that can be done with zero musical knowledge.

Music simply helps us remember and respond to who God is and what He has done. But the object of our affections is to be God Himself, not our songs. To extend a John Piper quote, people are starved for the greatness of God, not the greatness of our music. My prayer is that God would raise up many more leaders of congregational worship who understand the difference.

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46 Responses to What Does a Worship Leader Do? In Closing…

  1. dan mcgowan March 2, 2006 at 9:03 PM #

    okay, so, is this really the last post (for now, I mean?) Just curious – cuz this stuff is so good I want my choir and praise team and other musicians to read it! But not till you’re done… so, let us know, Bob, are we really ending here? (for now, I mean?)

  2. Bob Kauflin March 2, 2006 at 10:19 PM #


    Yep, really ending for now. Thanks for your encouraging words.

  3. James Truong March 2, 2006 at 10:38 PM #

    Hi there Bob, I just wanted to thank you for your time and effort. I’m just starting out with the ‘worship in song’ team. It’s been on my mind how I can serve faithfully bringing glory to God alone, and encouraging others.

    I’ve really enjoyed your posts and the helpful thoughts you’ve shared.

  4. Grace March 2, 2006 at 11:27 PM #

    You don’t need to post this comment, but I just wanted to thank you so much for sharing these thoughts. Although I’m not a worship leader or even on a worship team, the things I have read here have helped me see God’s glory clearer and to want to love God more. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  5. Paul Hayes March 3, 2006 at 10:04 AM #

    Bob, Thanks so much for leading us in this discussion. I am charged with training some new “Lead worshippers” because I am a Firefighter (as well as the Music Director) so my schedule is a bit wacky! So, your teaching will help me teach them. By the way, your Glad song “God is my Rock” has helped me through many tough and fearful situations in my Fire career. To know that when I pass through the flames-God is with me- is empowering. I really appreciate your ministry. Paul

    • Nadia Campbell June 22, 2015 at 7:45 PM #

      I just wanted you to know that truly I am inspired…. As a newly appointed “worship leader” I feel that this was like guide while on this journey. God bless you!
      Island worshipper

  6. Matt Cassidy April 25, 2007 at 10:18 PM #

    Do you think that someone who is tone deaf can consistently bring a congregation to worship. I say this because I have been involved at a church where we have a girl as a back up singer, who can’t seem to sing anything on key. We had our hands tied by the pastor, so we just kept her mic. off so it wouldn’t distract us, but a new guy lead one week and let her sing with the mic on. Me the bass, and lead guitarist had to drop out, because we couldn’t tell what was going on, and the congregation just stood there kind of dazed. I don’t mind turning her mic off, but I don’t want to stand next to her, because it throws me off, however I am not sure we have been doing the right thing. I am not sure how I feel about it, I wish there was an easy answer.

  7. Rob March 4, 2008 at 8:57 AM #

    Your blog is blessing me and those I am serving here in India! Praise God for his faithfulness to build his church throughout the world!

  8. Sam May 13, 2008 at 8:00 AM #

    Such a shame this is the last post – I thoroughly enjoyed this series, as a confirmation that we in my church are doing a lot of things right, and a wealth of challenges and further information that I am sure will keep us going for quite a while yet!

    I thoroughly agree, by the way, that someone tone deaf can lead worship – as worship leaders we got our lead pastor to lead worship one week. He cannot sing but his mic was turned low during the singing, and his leadership and love for Jesus brought great moments of intimacy for many in the congregation!

    Thanks again.

  9. eric September 15, 2010 at 3:30 AM #

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. I wish I read this 5 years ago. Ive made so many mistakes. Youve opened my eyes.

  10. Claudine Hamilton March 1, 2011 at 11:13 AM #

    Ok I just read your entire blog in one sitting and I was let down that this was the last post. It had me captivated and waiting to learn more. Thanks a million again but I felt like I just watched a great movie that I never wanted to end. That says something about what God has placed in you to teach on this subject. Thank you for being my teacher in this hour.

  11. Erin July 15, 2011 at 1:24 AM #


    It is so cool that you wrote this entire blog concerning leading worship. I have been searching to see what a worship leader is “supposed to do.” I have recently been asked to lead worship in a Chi Alpha group at a University, and this was very encouraging to me. There were so many things that really enlightened me on what worship really is. It is so great that you were willing to share this insight, even if I did read it 5 years after it was posted. God really spoke to me through the words you had written on the topic. Thank you so much for being God’s messenger.

    • Bob Kauflin July 15, 2011 at 3:22 AM #

      Thanks for your encouraging words, Erin. Glad this post served you!

  12. Cre January 9, 2012 at 11:01 PM #

    Thank you for your awesome words on worshipping. I read all of your blogs! The Holy Spirit has given you the knowledge to share this information with us. I can’t wait to share this our Praise Team!

  13. Annette February 21, 2012 at 8:54 PM #

    This is some good stuff!!! I am going to share it with others! This is a God-send to the body of Christ. Thank you Mr. Bob!!!

  14. Jessica February 28, 2012 at 3:41 AM #

    Hi Mr. Bob Kauflin! This teaching is an answer to prayer and I am so thankful to have come across this. Basically every single thing you said is an answer to what I’ve been asking of the Lord: What is pleasing to You God? What do You expect of us on Sunday mornings (and beyond). Your biblical studying and wisdom from the Holy Spirit has painted a clear picture of this and I am so thankful! Sadly, I feel that my church has gotten so far from this and I pray that sharing this with them will be the beginning of a much needed change. Thanks again, Blessings!

  15. Christine March 5, 2012 at 9:43 PM #

    Could you please address comment number 6 please? This is also a concern for me that I’m not sure how to address. We could use your wisdom.


    • Bob Kauflin March 6, 2012 at 3:53 AM #

      Christine, sorry I never answered the question. I think it’s possible for someone who is tone deaf to lead congregational singing, but they shouldn’t sing into a microphone. They can direct people’s minds and hearts to God’s greatness through the things they say, not the notes they sing. It’s different, however, for someone who is only contributing through their voice. I can think of a few options. First, if the individual is very expressive physically, and can encourage the congregation that way, you can have them sing, but not turn up their mic. But you should tell them that’s what you’re doing, rather than allow them to think that they’re contributing vocally. Also, people in the congregation might ask them why they’re never heard out front. Second, you can try hooking them up with a better singer to see if that improves anything. Finally, you can talk to your pastor about what his priorities are. If he wants a person singing in front for whatever reason, I’ll find a way to make it work without it becoming a distraction to others. On the other hand, you might persuade him that God gives people different gifts, and that this particular person may not be musically gifted enough to serve the congregation in that role. Is that helpful?

  16. Christine March 6, 2012 at 4:17 PM #

    Thanks. That is very helpful. Thank you for replying.

  17. Jeff Ling March 29, 2012 at 6:26 PM #

    This was such great reading I too read it all in one sitting and am wanting more. I came across this because I am trying to answer the question of whether or not to have a woman lead our “worship through song” time in the service. First, I agree with all you have a said. Applying what you have written to the question of if a woman should (direct, lead ect…) does it apply to whoever (regardless of gender) is leading?

    I know it is yes in the fact that worship is what we do all week, proclaiming with our lives the Glory’s of God.

    But can this role be filled with a woman leading but I myself directing, choosing, picking the music and doing most of the reflective speaking between songs to assist Gods people by helping them engage in worship ensuring they are contemplation all who He is and has done?

    • Bob Kauflin March 29, 2012 at 7:35 PM #

      Hey, Jeff. Thanks for your steadfast pursuit of Jesus all these years! I did a post on this in which I tried to answer your question. Let me know if it’s helpful.

  18. J.E. May 16, 2012 at 11:32 PM #

    Hi Bob,

    First and foremost thank you for sharing your wisdom and Gods glory with everyone And the blessing of bestowing Gods knowledge upon us.

    I have thought about this for years. We are told that worship is not exclusive singing, but is deeper internally and externally. We have a great responsibility as servants to be an ambassador of Christ in everything we do and say on a daily.

    The problem I have seen is that worship leaders have been classified as a title by the community of churches and not enough time educating people on the difference and that we are all called to be worship leaders with our own gifts and above all remember we are here to love and serve God first, and each other second. In time, when we are internally aligned with God and His word, our lives and actions will follow.

    My question is how do you educate and teach not only students, but a community to understand the difference and change the perspective of putting the music worship leader on a pedestal?

    In my view, we are all equally loved by God with different roles and responsibilities. Therefore, this seperation that has been placed on the songs and leaders can be overwhelming and strenuous at times. That is why I can relate to your blog and think that we all need to have a better understanding of corporate worship versus one person or group being the driven focus of worship.

    I am glad and thankful for the opportunity to read your blog. Thank you for sharing God’s wisdom and Knowledge!

  19. Kelly May 22, 2012 at 8:48 AM #

    As one who has been leading worship in church only for the past few months, I must say I benefitted a lot from this series! You’ve put into words some of the intuitive thoughts I have about worship, and confirmed that they are theologically sound thoughts. Thanks Bob for the effort! Appreciate it.

  20. Sammi January 14, 2013 at 1:46 PM #

    Thank you so much for this insightful series! As a college student serving on a campus organization’s worship team, I really appreciate this excellent reminder of the heart behind outward expressions of worship.

  21. Luke January 18, 2013 at 4:44 PM #

    Wow! what a great series, it does indeed feel like watching a movie that you dont want to end, as one of the other readers mentioned.

    I have recently, by Faith :) have taken on the mantle of being the “Worship leader”, where this role was shared with the Assistant Pastor, but felt that he (Moses) needed to step down and let the Joshua generation (me) step up and lead, however after reading this, ive felt there is a lot more to meditate and pray about, to prepare, but most importantly relying on His Spirit.

    I have always been reminded that Worship is a lifestyle, and used the analogy of someone wanting to workout on their physique, where Sunday is like going to the gym, but if your not dieting, and eating well throughout the week, its all pointless, you wont be able to get the results effectively. The same can be said about Worship, if you believe that showing up to church, and singing a few songs will “get you the results” of being a worshipper…well then lol

    Thank You Brother, May God continually bless you and your ministry abundantly.

  22. Charity March 21, 2013 at 1:24 AM #

    Thank God i’ve found this blog, really a great help to me. I’ll going to share it with our team and young people. I’ve just read it on one sitting only, looking forward to learn more from you! You’re such a gift from God to us. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, i’ve learned a lot. Continue on inspiring millions of people in the world. God bless you!

  23. Esi March 25, 2013 at 9:20 AM #

    Just found this blog and it challenges me to be a better worshipper and also to share with the team I am in. Thank you Bob and may God bless you.

  24. Charlotte Bubb April 30, 2013 at 4:09 PM #

    If music moves, excites, stimulates etc. people in its own right, and given how people love to put musicians on pedestals, is it wise to have anything other than the most basic instrumentation? Surely the corporate singing is paramount? i’ve read that loud music was not part of the worship in the sanctuary in the OT, only outside to summon people to worship. We have all kinds of keyboards, percussion etc; I long to be able to focus on theologically sound words and not be distracted by our excellent musicians..

  25. Jason Carag July 13, 2013 at 2:19 PM #

    Hi Bob,

    7 years after you wrote this, your blog still touches worship leaders such as myself and I was very blessed to have read your entire series as I prepare myself for today’s service. Thank you. It’s now much more clearer now.

    God bless you!

  26. Lex July 14, 2013 at 8:03 PM #

    Thank you! That was amazing and helpful.

  27. Leeshua August 29, 2013 at 10:12 PM #

    Thank you for sharing such wisdom on this topic. Many blessings to you!

  28. Joyce October 29, 2013 at 9:30 AM #

    Thank you so much for taking time to share your thoughts. Very helpful. More blessings!

  29. Wilhelmina Walder November 17, 2013 at 6:54 PM #

    I would just like to say thank you for taking the time to explain & sharing your thoughts in such a clear manner. I could not stop reading until I came to the end.
    As a “Corporate worship Leader” I have been concerned about what we do each week, your blog has answered many questions & I really love the pointers/references to the scripture.
    God Bless you

  30. Luz January 14, 2014 at 6:32 PM #

    Hey, I just wanted to thank you for you time spent in putting this series together. I have really been feeling the tug of God to start up a backyard youth ministry. I’m only 15 but will be leading this as God commanded. I have spent months doing a lot of research on the topics of worship and how to put messages together since I believe those are the most import parts of the service. And I would have to say your series has help a lot, and as I been building my team, I have been feeling that worship was the main thing I needed to focus on. So yea I guess that’s all, Thanks so much. May God bless you abundantly!!!

    • Bob Kauflin January 14, 2014 at 6:57 PM #

      Luz, glad the series was helpful! I pray God blesses your desire to serve others by drawing their attention to the greatness of Jesus Christ!

  31. Ephrath July 3, 2014 at 3:42 AM #

    I was searching for an answer and thank God has led me to your blog. I truly benefited after reading them because I am going to use them to share to my team. Thanks

  32. Delana Gray-Edwards July 16, 2014 at 5:03 PM #

    Thank you for posting this. It has been a great help to me.

  33. KB October 26, 2014 at 3:14 AM #

    Such an excellent series.

  34. Mason February 4, 2015 at 12:30 PM #

    Being a young musician in the church, I love this series. Definitely helps me understand more of what I’m doing and I hope in the future I will be able to lead like this.

    • Bob Kauflin February 4, 2015 at 11:39 PM #

      Glad the series is serving you, Mason!

  35. lexzay May 19, 2016 at 5:04 PM #

    I’m a young worship leader and this series really helped me a lot. I learned and realize a lot of things that make want to grow and know more about the beauty of God. Thank you for making this series and I hope that you make more of these and inspire more worship leaders. God bless you always :)

    • Bob Kauflin May 19, 2016 at 8:39 PM #

      Lexzay glad these posts encouraged you!

  36. Joey August 23, 2016 at 12:54 AM #

    Thanks Bob for this series, it has encouraged me so much in reading them tonight! Its such an awesome privelage to serve and worship God for the last 15 years of my life leading people in singing His praise! He has blessed me so much even when I had no clue about what I was doing some days that He always reminds me why I am doing it! Thank you for the gift of Your Son Father! Blessings to you Bob,

    • Bob Kauflin August 23, 2016 at 1:19 PM #

      Glad these posts were an encouragement to you, Joey! We serve a glorious Savior!

  37. Stephen August 13, 2018 at 2:06 AM #

    Bob,i believe God wanted me to read your posts on worship leading,thank you for making me see in the right perspective, I am immensely grateful….

    • Bob Kauflin August 16, 2018 at 9:10 AM #

      So grateful these posts served you, Stephen!

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