5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Lead Worship This Sunday

It’s Monday morning.   If you’re like most ministry leaders you wake up feeling completely drained from the day of ministry before.  Turn on the coffee pot because as we all know … “Sunday is coming”.

Have you ever thought about what would happen if you didn’t show up to lead on a Sunday?

Would worship still occur?
Would your leadership team be able to adjust?
Would your congregation adapt?

I’d like to suggest five reasons why you should not lead worship this Sunday.  OK, maybe not THIS Sunday in a literal sense.  But let’s entertain some valid reasons why you should be prepared to not lead and remove yourself from the platform every now and then.

1.  Regain the Congregant’s Perspective

When was the last time that you participated in a worship service as a congregant?   This perspective can be very enlightening to a worship leader.   By joining in with the congregation you can get a first hand feel for what your sound is like, how your team’s stage presence is represented, how transitions flow, and what may be helping or hurting the overall environment that is being created.   Can you hear one another sing?  Is the lighting sufficient?  Are people around you engaged in corporate singing or are they just watching the performance?   All of these can be more easily discerned from the vantage point of a worshiper in the congregation.

2.  Empower Other Leaders

One of the biggest reasons that you need to get off the stage every now and then is for the empowerment of other leaders.  Any worship leader should be intentionally mentoring and raising up additional worship leaders.   You may have to start from scratch or you may share in the huge blessing that I have where you’re already surrounded with a plethora of strong worship leaders.   Either way, stepping aside and giving them the opportunity to minister will build depth in your team, empower others, and bring a fresh approach to worship for your congregation.

3.  Bring More Stylistic Diversity

Let’s face it.  We may try our hardest to diversify our setlists but we’re still prone to sing songs that we’re most comfortable leading.  By getting off the stage and allowing someone else to lead we open the door for stylistic diversity for our congregation.   If you typically lead worship with a guitar it may be refreshing to have a service that is more keyboard-led, and vice-versa.   Perhaps you have someone else who brings a different sound and style altogether which can be a refreshing change of wind in your musical selections and delivery.

4.  Take Time to Worship without Leading

We should always be living our lives in such a way that we’re constantly engaged in direct, personal worship.   If Sunday morning is our only time to worship we’re already in trouble.  However, there is something wonderful when we can step off the stage and worship freely without the concerns of leadership.  By taking some time off the stage we accomplish so many other positive things for others and it can give us a wonderful time to worship freely.  I truly believe that when a congregation notices their worship leader standing with their family engaged in authentic worship, it deepens the trust and connection that would exist between the leader and the people he or she is leading.

5.  Lead in a Different Ministry Within your Church

Can you imagine how your children’s director would respond if you said “hey, next Sunday I’ve asked one of our other worship leaders to lead and I’d be honored if I could come in and lead the young kids in a few simple praise songs”.   C’mon.  That would be amazing and you would be immensely blessed as you are being a blessing.

I truly believe it’s a mistake to force a worship leader to always lead, every week.   There is so much to be gained from a plurality of leadership and from giving a leader the chance to remove themselves from the spotlight, even if the only thing accomplished was a day of rest.

Doing this is not easy and assumes that you have a leadership structure in place where you can hand off the worship leading responsibilities as well.  We’ll tackle that in a future post.

What are your thoughts?  Do you have other reasons why it’s advantageous to get off the stage?

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23 comments on “5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Lead Worship This Sunday

  1. Debeec27 says:

    I am not a worship leader…i am a tech person and worship planning person….i can see all of your points and i would like to add one…the weight of leading can become overwhelming for some and often they end up burned out.  Sometimes the “If I don’t do it no one will” attitude kicks in too.  both are damaging to the leader and the congregation…leading worship should not be viewed as a duty!

    1. fmckinnon says:

       Thanks so much!  I’m happy to hear the response from a Tech person and planning person — and you are so very right.  I literally just read a “tweet” from a fellow worship leader confessing to be on the verge of complete burnout.  God help us!

  2. Nice thoughts Fred. I wish more felt as you do. Thanks for leading and challenging us.

    1. fmckinnon says:

      Rich,

      Thanks so much — QUESTION for you, though:
      Your post would suggest that you think a lot of people don’t feel the same way — do you think this is the case w/ the worship leaders, or with their bosses? Why?

      1. It is both. I would hate to “blame” any role, but the leader does hold the cards.

         I see the move today to be very narrow in the role of worship leader. It used to be “worship pastor” was a good thing. Now, we have “worship artists” who might be great on stage but do not build teams or off-stage duties or see their role BEYOND. 

        Economics dictates for some to do this pay a bunch of PT worship leader pros. I say… NO. Let’s make the “role” of worship leader fit better into a role of pastoring, and at the same time lift up the role of “artist” too. I mean, artists are not thought of high enough. They are the prophets of today. I dare say it is more biblical to be called to be an artist than the role “worship leader”…lets change that.

        1. fmckinnon says:

          Ah, beautiful response, Rich. I totally agree, and have seen this happening across our country. There are lots of directions to point the blame on this for sure.
          Pastoring, mentoring, and having multiple leaders is definitely a path to take for more selfless service. One point that I neglected to mention is that it gives us space to get out of the spotlight, and reinforces the concept that the worship experience doesn’t resolve a particular personality or talent.
          Thanks so much for your insights, Rich – they are always ALWAYS appreciated.
          Fred

  3. Good stuff.  Like Rich, I wish more church leaders saw things this way.  I’m only allowed to not lead three weekends a year where I work.  After all, people can’t really worship unless I’m there, right?

    Yes, I would like some cheese with my whine.

    1. fmckinnon says:

      Chris,
      Wow, that’s quite a burden to carry. I’d be willing to bet that your pastor rarely brings other communicators into the pulpit as well? (Granted, I think there should be a main, focused voice in communicating for the local church, and when new people are in that role their gifts and message should fit into the grand scheme of God’s plan for that church).
      What would happen if you began to lead less while on stage — in other words, begin backing away from leading every song, raising up some of your other band leaders and vocalists to take the lead on a given song or two in the setlist. This gives you room to eventually prepare them for an entire Sunday. Cast the vision to your leaders and talk about multiplying disciples in that ministry. Just a thought.

  4. I tend to agree with this advice. 😀  Cheers.

    1. fmckinnon says:

      Thanks, Bridget!

  5. Ashley Ferguson says:

    Hi Fred,

    Very good points.  I see how much Josh’s dad has to do in order to prepare to be out of town on a Sunday, and it makes me appreciate Worship leaders even more.  They will be here this Sunday, so it will be their first time worshipping at SSCC, so we are all looking forward to that.  🙂  

    Take care,
    Ashley

    1. fmckinnon says:

      HI Ashley,
      Sounds great — we have a “light” Sunday in regards to music this Sunday, but that’s because I’m taking some extra time to teach a new chorus!

  6. Ashley Ferguson says:

    Another thought.  I often hit “post” before I’m finished.  I have been very aware of how you have others lead the worship, on a consistent basis.  I had never seen this before we started attending SSCC.  It really is a smart idea, and we have really loved being a part of this worship experience.  You have a great team and to see you put others out front, while you take a step back really speaks a lot of you (I know that’s not the ultimate intent, but just giving you my thoughts from an outsider’s perspective).

    1. fmckinnon says:

      Thanks, Ashley – it’s actually VERY fulfilling!

  7. Adam Ranck says:

    Totally with you on these points. Really nice thoughts!

    I can really relate with what you said in “taking time to worship without leading”. I agree that when we take time off the stage, we accomplish many other positive things for others (as well as ourselves). I know my family/fiancé really appreciates when I lead, but they doubly love having me next to them as we worship together. It’s just another way we love.

    Also, the example you set is immense. Being authentic on and off the platform really does develop a connection and trust with our local community (and our family sees us worship at home). By being off platform, you example discipleship/mentoring to your people, and how it works. You also example specifically how one can worship and often spur others to glorify God even more fully by following you. Not only do people have someone leading them from the front, but now also someone a couple seats forward. It helps people feel more comfortable and encourages them to open up in their expressiveness and be more authentic (not necessarily meaning they’ll “be more expressive”) in their worship to Almighty God.

    Quite honestly though, and I understand what you meant by saying it, but if you are a leader within your local church community, you are always leading whether you are on or off the platform. People are always watching and learning from us (for good and bad). However, we shouldn’t stress about this, because if we are always authentic, it just means we glorify God like we always do, God is glorified in it, and people are encouraged by our example.

    1. Thanks, Adam,
      Yes – it does make a big difference. Thanks for jumping in on the conversation!

  8. HL McConnell says:

    Great stuff Fred.  Really on the mark.

  9. kmom says:

    We are a fairly new church—-1 1/2 yrs old. We do have a full-time pastor, but we started with all lay leadership, and liked it, so contracted with him to take 8 weekends off per year……we have a rotation of 10 worship leaders, 6 teams of singers, an amazing number of keyboardists, others that rotate doing the prayers and the readings….new volunteers welcome all the time. (only the pastor is paid)
    No, no service has ever been perfect! One weekend, the lay person that was to do the sermon that week was suddenly ill, and we had a whole congregation participation Bible study on the week’s Gospel lesson. It was amazing!

  10. Shirley Sheppard says:

    I used to get a great delight at walking through our church and seeing choir members in other ministries. To keep that tradition alive, I work in Children’s Sunday School the first and third Sunday of every month. What a blessing to me.

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