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The Worship Leader in the Pew: What to Do When Not on Stage



Author: Kristen Gilles
Leadership Category: ,

Posted August 19, 2014 by


orship leaders, is our worship genuine if we’re only modeling worshipful and thankful hearts when we’re on the stage? What about the weeks when you’re not scheduled to lead with the team? Have you considered how you can aid the worship culture of your church by “leading from the pew”?

Worship leaders (and for the sake of this article, I mean “everyone who makes music or leads liturgical readings from the stage”) must set a good example beyond their regularly scheduled service times.

  • We aren’t just worship leaders when we’re on a platform in front of our congregations.
  • Our role is not confined to an assigned instrument or microphone.

If we truly love our God and desire to worship Him, we will exhibit spiritual, truthful worship not only from the stage but when we’re standing in the gathered congregation.

If our attendance at our gathered worship services is limited to the times when we’re scheduled to serve, what kind of example are we setting for those we are called to lead? We’re likely sending them these messages:

  1. It’s not important to attend every time the congregation gathers to worship.
  2. We don’t need to participate in worship from the congregation since we’re only called to lead in front of the congregation.
  3. We’re so spiritual that we’re exempt from participating outside of our regularly scheduled service times.

If you do attend regularly even when you’re not scheduled to serve with the worship team, consider whether your worshipful participation in the gathered congregation continues to lead your people well.

  • Are you actively engaging in the worship service?
  • Do you sing out with all your heart?
  • Do you lift your hands to the Lord?
  • Do you sincerely participate in the liturgical prayers and Scripture readings?
  • Are you worshiping the Lord in spirit and in truth (whatever that may look like for you) when you’re not in the leadership spotlight on stage?

Our goal should not be to actively engage in worship from the pews in order to draw attention to ourselves. Rather, we should seek to continue leading the congregation in worship by modeling a worshipful and thankful attitude as we worship alongside them.

We should be eager to gather with the church and to worship our Great God together, whether scheduled to serve and lead from the front, or whether we “have the week off.”


Kristen Gilles is a deacon at Louisville’s Sojourn Community Church. Her new CD Parker’s Mercy Brigade is a story of faith, lament, comfort, healing and worship following the stillbirth of her son. Kristen blogs about worship with her husband, Sojourn’s Bobby Gilles, at mysonginthenight.com.


    Davis Acuff

    Good article. I shared with my music team.

      Terry Southers

      AMEN ! This article is so , so important . Listen . . . . when we stand on
      stage or platform to lead worship , We better be prepared , not just talking
      about knowing what we’re going to sing for the worship service , but rather
      be prepared in our hearts to ” minister ” with purpose , with power from our
      Lord . Our focus ” can not ” be just to get the music right, but our hearts have
      to show outwardly , who we are about in our relationship with Jesus Christ .
      We ” must ” be serious about reaching to the heart of the people listening
      and watching us . We must live off stage , the example of Christ , Jesus .
      I started attending a church recently where the worship pastor explains
      this very thing as the article states . You want to lead worship , well. . . . we
      better make it our ” mission “. Listen . . . . We can not do this by ourselves ,
      We have to be right in our hearts with Jesus . Let me say this again . . . we
      must have our life straight off the stage if we want to be ministering to the
      congregations of churches across America and abroad . If you want to see
      people moved in ” spirit ” we have to put our ALL in to it . It’s got to be more
      than just showing up for choir or a worship team . I am learning more and more and like I said . . . . God has to be the center of our life at all times in
      ministering to the lost and to the saints . ” God Bless ” ! !

      Terry Southers . . . . Catlett, VA.

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