How to Start Off a Worship Leading Career

1Yesterday I received a question over email from someone who asked:

I am helping a young friend who is just working a “job” right now and leads worship at our church every third week.  He is musically talented (singer, drums, guitar, other percussions and harmonica that I know of.)  He needs direction on the qualifications he might need to be useful to a church body as a part time or full time worship leader as his calling/career.  He feels called but doesn’t know how to get started.  I do not know where he should start or how to advise him.  Can you help?

Here’s what I shared:

To be useful to a church body as a part time or full time worship leader, your friend needs to demonstrate consistent dependable leadership. He needs to find a venue, whether it’s a small Sunday morning service somewhere, or a week night thing, or a bible study, or a mid-week service where prove he can lead a worship team, choose songs, do the necessary administration, be dependable, and help people worship God.

When I was in your friend’s shoes, I began to lead weekly for our youth ministry, quarterly for church worship celebrations, sometimes for healing services, on men’s retreats, for Alpha, for weddings/funerals, and for VBS (vacation bible school). Get as much varied experience as possible to be well-rounded. Then a church will look at you and know they can trust you with responsibility.

I wrote a post several years ago with more thoughts on this called “Getting Experience Makes You Experienced“. For worship leaders who want to have more responsibility and opportunity, and even a full or part-time position, there’s no other place to start than by saying “yes” to as many offers that come your way.

3 thoughts on “How to Start Off a Worship Leading Career”

  1. Good advice Jamie. I’m afraid that some in the next generation of worship leaders may want to walk right into situations that have taken a long time to develop. Just like a young person when they get married….they want the big house, cars, etc that their parents had. They may not remember that it took their parents a lot of time and hard work to get there. We’d all love to be the next Joel Houston or Matt Redman, but those guys have put in years of work and prayer to get where they are. It may not be desirable to lead kids or a small group of 6 people that don’t sing along with you…but it determines if your heart is in it and that you’re truly called, or if you’re just wanting to re-create something you see on stage.

  2. I’m enjoying your blog Jamie. Thank you for it!

    To your response, let me be a testament to what you said…

    I thought that God wanted me to be a vocational youth pastor. So, I pursued it for years (including a ministry degree and years of volunteer leadership). For some reason, God allowed me to serve, but He never opened the door to any of the vocational positions that I applied for.

    Through the guidance of a mentor and lots of prayer, I started to realize that God had been calling me to music ministry. I was already leading a youth band, and I volunteered for Sunday morning worship. So, God started opening doors as soon as I started applying for positions. The right fit didn’t come right away. So, I decided to cut my hours at my full-time job, and commit to an internship at a bigger church. This opened up avenues for vocational positions, and I am about to accept a position at a church within the next month.

    Serve God, get experience, be mentored, and let God direct your path.

    Hope that someone who needs to read this finds help in my journey!

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