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Today I want to salute the average worship leader.

Why? If YouTube videos and conference worship bands are any indicator, we’re unintentionally (I trust) cultivating an understanding of musical worship and its leaders that draws more from rock concerts and Entertainment Tonight than biblical principles.

We can start thinking that the “best” corporate worship context is characterized by bright stage lights, a dimly lit congregation, Intellibeams, fog, high end musical gear, multiple screens, moving graphics, and loud volumes. We can start to think the ideal leader is good-looking, sings tenor, plays a cool instrument (usually guitar), sports hip hair, and writes songs. And by the way, the band members and vocalists should be near studio quality, if not actual studio musicians, and look pretty good themselves.

To be clear, I thank God for godly, good-looking, musically gifted, well-known leaders who are simply seeking to be faithful and bring glory to Jesus. I know a number of them. And God is all for skill and excellence when we bring our musical offerings to him (Ps. 33:3; 1 Chron. 15:22). Technology isn’t evil (although it inherently affects the message we’re communicating).

A Concern
Overemphasizing or consistently focusing on technology, skill, and excellence can leave most us with a nagging feeling that our musicians, our leaders, our equipment, and our songs are never quite good enough. We resign ourselves to the thought that we’ll never be as successful, used, or important as the people we see on YouTube and at conferences. Or we breathlessly pursue the trappings and externals of “modern worship,” attaching biblical authority to very cultural practices.

That’s why today I want to salute the average worship leader.

Are You an Average Leader?
By average I don’t mean mediocre or lazy. Just normal. Because that’s what most of those leading in churches today are. Normal. Maybe you can relate to some of these “average worship leader” characteristics:

  • Your musical training, if any, was years ago.
  • No one wants you to sing lead on an album, but you get the melody pretty much in tune.
  • Your vocal range is a little over an octave, but almost always lower than the recorded key.
  • You prepare and rehearse in the midst of a full time job and responsibilities at home.
  • You and some of the other musicians could do better with your dieting.
  • Sometimes it’s hard to figure out the chords or strum pattern on a song.
  • Your sound system has been pieced together over the years and still works. Most of the time.
  • Your choices for lighting are ON or OFF.
  • Twice a year you lead surrounded by a set for “Phantom of the Opera” or some other school play.
  • You have good folks on your team who don’t have a ton of time to practice or rehearse during the week.
  • The ages of your team members range from 14 to 56.
  • Some people in the church love what you do, some aren’t crazy about what you do, and some aren’t sure what you do.
  • You don’t even try to keep up with the gazillion worship albums released every month.

Here’s why I want to honor you. God sees your labors. And he says they’re not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58). “For  God is not unjust so as to overlook  your work and the love that you have shown for his name in  serving the saints, as you still do” (Heb. 6:10).

God seems to favor doing his work through the weak and the few (1 Cor. 1:26-28; Judg. 7:2-8; Dt. 20:1-8; Mt. 15:32-28). That’s why I think average worship leaders play a significant part in God’s purposes to exalt his Son throughout the world.

Don’t Forget
While there’s never anything “average” about leading people to exalt the glories of Christ through music and the Word, we can always grow. So to encourage you and spur you on, here are a few thoughts:

  • It can’t be said too frequently that while God can use technology, skill, and excellence, he doesn’t require them
  • What every leader has to offer people is the gospel, God’s Word, and the Holy Spirit, working through redeemed sinners, i.e., us.
  • The same God who seems so present in a crowd of 10,000, is just as present in your church of 113.
  • The Holy Spirit doesn’t need a dark room or dramatic lighting to reveal Christ to people. He’s been using natural light quite effectively for thousands of years.
  • We’re responsible for the resources we have, not the ones we don’t have (2 Cor. 8:12).
  • Being average doesn’t mean we can’t get better through practice, evaluation, and hard work.
  • Being average doesn’t give us freedom to uncharitably judge or fail to learn from those who have greater gifts and opportunities than we do. 
  • Average musicians can be as self-sufficient as gifted ones, which should motivate us to pray consistently. 
  • The goal of our labors is not success or popularity, but faithfulness.

So if you fall into the category of the average worship leader, I want to thank you for your labors and encourage you to keep growing. God is using you in more ways than you can imagine to build his church and bring glory to his Son.

And because Jesus is the perfect worship leader who paid for all our sins and failings through his substitutionary death on the cross, we can look forward to the day when every faithful leader, average or not, will stand before the Father and hear him say, “Well done.”   

Bob Kauflin Bob Kauflin currently has the privilege of serving as the Director of Worship Development for Sovereign Grace Ministries. © Sovereign Grace Ministries. WorshipMatters.com. Used by permission.

More from Bob Kauflin or visit Bob at http://www.worshipmatters.com

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  • colin webster

    I could not agree more. Thanks for that Bob.

  • http://www.facebook.com/davidpat.norman David Pat Norman

    Thank you! Definitely needed that.

  • Dave R

    Thanks Bob, sometimes i think that we’ve made worship out of worship, you’ve lifted the burden off of many shoulders !

  • http://www.stevenbrown.org/ Steven Brown

    Wow! You wrote a great article Mr. Kauflin and it’s all about me! :-)

  • Mark Bryan Duncan

    Thank you!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/joquin8a Joaquin Ochoa

    Preach! Thanks for the great word/s Bob!

  • Alan Bennett

    Thank you. Your words brought me to tears. They are precious and appreciated very much. I am indeed a very average worship leader but God has done something in me that I never dreamed was possible. He is building our team for His glory. All God’s blessings Bob.
    Regards, Alan.

  • Penny Driver

    Thank you :) All Pastors should read this too, so it takes the pressure off them in regards
    to expectations in the Worship Teams :) I always said God is looking for your Passion and Heart in worshiping Him, and He will move mightily, whether there is music behind our singing or whatever. I believe it is up to us to come with what we have and give Him all we are :) And to also build that faith and belief in the congregation, so they are always expecting encounters with God during whatever style of worship they are able to give.

  • Faith

    Thank you so much for this. We are a small church with a music team who had no formal training at all but gifted by God with talent and humble hearts to serve. Blessings from Philippines! :)

  • http://twitter.com/demaries7 Mary Lekgau-Mathebs

    Powerful article. Im am one of those average but passionate about worship. Thanks for the encouragement

  • Costa K

    The first thing we need to do is get rid of the title “worship leader”. Lets use “song leader” or “band leader” or heck, how about just “singer”?

    Why are only the singers seen as the ones who lead those into worship? Doesn’t the preacher do that as well? What about the children’s workers? Men and women’s ministry leaders? So why do we only reserve this title for those who sing? And of course not forgetting that it is only Jesus who truly leads us into worship.

    As such, “worship leader” is an awful term, theologically incorrect and misleading and creates many, many problems. The sooner we drop it from our church jargon the better off everyone will be and not just those “average worship leaders”.

    • http://www.facebook.com/meagan.buchheim Meagan Martin

      I cannot say that I agree with this. Although I can tell that you mean well. I don’t want to be known as a mere “song leader” in a “song service” as I have heard it called because we can sing songs all day, and if they are only songs then they mean nothing. As for singer, there are millions of those in the world and many of them not using their giftings for God. So I retain the title Worship Leader, not as a sense of pride, but as I sense of leading(simply providing an atmosphere) worship. Even if the music has to stop. I do agree that many others lead worship as well. I constantly remind my team the position of leadership that they are in, but in every group there will always be one leader or there would be chaos. I do like this article, but do not like the word “average”, even though he describes it as normal. I see nothing different between what I do and what those “above average” do. For God has chosen me John 15:16, and as long as I fall in line with what He has for me I am above average, not because of me, but Him in me. That is my heart.

  • Biji Samuel

    Thank you Bob for your encouragement. Now, I certainly feel a lot better than just average. God bless you.

  • Liaan Swanepoel

    oooooooooooh thankyou Bob. I totaly agree with Biji, ..I certainly feel a lot better than just average..

  • http://www.facebook.com/nwfoto Nathan Warson

    Thank you for this post. I don’t feel alone anymore…

  • faithful

    Thank you for encouraging us…

  • Brempong

    I feel better…

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