How important is it for me as a worship leader to train others? How should I go about this discipleship process?
The trendy term today is mentoring. Whatever terminology you use—discipling, training others, mentoring—make sure you do it.
Ephesians 4:11-12 says that one of the functions of church leadership is to “to prepare God’s people for works of service.” In light of this, my job as a worship leader is not just to lead worship. My job is to train others in leading worship. Preparing God’s people for works of service.
Most worship leaders do not seem to see training others as a high priority. Of course, it is necessary to lead worship for corporate gatherings, to find new songs and to oversee the worship ministry. These are all important. But beyond all of these we must draw others into the gifts that God has put into them. By doing this we are beginning to fulfill what He told us to do.
Most churches (even large churches) have one worship leader. If that person is absent for any reason, it is often assumed that the worship segment of the service will be lacking. Is this really necessary? Not if we will disciple others to lead worship.
I am not suggesting to have several people leading with no one person in charge. That can be an extremely difficult situation. What is needed is a worship leader who will disciple others into leading.
I was the primary worship leader at my church for many years. But through careful and deliberate personal instruction, I trained and taught others in leading worship. Some of them have moved on to lead worship at other churches. Others have remained at our congregation as part of our worship team and some even take over the leadership role when the current worship leader is absent.
In the discipleship process, We sat and discussed various aspects of worship and worship leading. We prayed together. I attempted to answer their worship leading questions. Each one is as thoroughly prepared to lead as I can make them before they take on a Sunday morning worship service.
They each “took the big plunge” on a Sunday morning when I was present. I did this deliberately so I could act as a back-up in case of an “emergency.” In this way, they are able to concentrate more on their worship leading instead of on any potential problems.
After the service, I would offer my thoughts, a constructive analysis, on what they did. My objective was to give creative, practical input that would help them the next time. I also offered lots of encouragement. This last point is vital. I even tended to give praise to them in front of the rest of the team or sometimes even the congregation. Timely encouragement will usually have better long-term results than even practical criticism.
It should be noted that I do not claim to know all there is to know about leading worship. I simply trust that the Holy Spirit within them will make up for what I cannot offer…and He does! The point is this: we need to disciple others even if we do not “have it all together.” If you wait until you are perfect, it will never get done.
If you do not have what you consider a good candidate for leading worship, then ask God to send someone (or to show you the person who is already there). It is always amazing to see how faithful the Lord is when we really trust Him.
In all of this, remember that there are those who will simply be musicians or singers, not leaders. Don’t downplay the role of these people: they are important. But continue to look for those faithful people to whom you can entrust leadership, those who will also be able to teach others (2 Timothy 2:2).
Remember, if God has given you a position of authority in His church, it is not just so you can do all the work. Disciple others. It is not just a good idea… He commands it.
For further thoughts on this topic, you might check out my book, Mentoring Worship Leaders: Training the Next Generation.