- To be truly effective as a worship leader, you must be a lifelong learner.
“Commit yourself to lifelong learning. The most valuable asset you’ll ever have is your mind and what you put into it.” – Albert Einstein
To stay current in the field of worship, one must continue to learn about the field and grow as a leader and follower of Christ. New technology, changes in worship style, new trends, and new songs make staying current in worship leadership a challenge. Change is happening rapidly in our world, and that is also true in our field. Learning and adapting are important to success in worship ministry. Below are some ways that you can stay current in your field.
Continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in any field.” – Brian Tracy
There are many benefits of attending worship conferences. As worship leaders, we are almost always responsible for leading worship and all that that entails: preparing and leading the band, making sure lyrics are displayed properly, collaborating with others who will be on the platform, setting ear and FOH mixes, and more. It is great to participate in worship without the pressure of leading. Participating instead of leading means no worries about lighting cues, lyrics, or complaints about when things go wrong.
It is also great to be in breakout sessions and seminars to get training in areas where we may not have experience or expertise. Often there are new technologies or worship concepts that you haven’t learned about. Other seminars may provide refreshers to things we already know or things to encourage us as worship leaders, as sometimes we just need inspiration as well as information. Conferences can be a great way to get both.
Leaders Are Readers
“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” – Harry S. Truman
There are so many great resources for worship leaders to use to enhance their ministry. Books and blogs abound. Reading is a way to let someone else breathe life into your ministry. Books about worship leading can give you great advice on leading well. Books on theology can help us grow in our understanding of who God is and how He is to be worshiped. Find great books on worship and theology to help yourself grow and learn. I have some of my favorite books posted on my blog, worshipblogger.com.
Scripture should be primary in our reading to help us know God better and to see the beauty of the Gospel and the splendor of His holiness. Psalm 1 reminds us:
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither — whatever they do prospers.
If we expect to be blessed and have effective ministry, we must read and meditate on the Word of God.
Learning in Community
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John F. Kennedy
There is a reason that people need community. We need fellowship with like-minded people, and people around us can make us better. When we worship corporately, we worship in community. We can encourage and learn from one another. From fellow worship leaders, we can learn what is going well in their ministry, how they do auditions and recruit volunteers, and what worship songs resonate with their congregation. It is great to have friends who are in ministry with you who can be either peers or mentors. Many cities that I have lived in have had area worship pastor gatherings that can be a source of learning and encouragement.
Beyond that, formal education can be a great way to deepen your understanding of worship ministry. You are more likely to be held accountable for your learning if you are in a community of people who are also learning, where assignments challenge you, and where faculty are there to help you. My students have also noticed that more churches are preferring master’s degrees as an expectation for employment.
“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.” – Michel Legrand
The field of worship ministry is constantly changing, and having an effective ministry means that you must continue learning in the field. There are many ways to go about learning, but one thing is for sure: To not continue to grow and learn is to stagnate. Kingdom effectiveness will result when you continue to be a lifelong learner.
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Dr. O'Neel serves as Associate Professor of Music and Worship, and as director of music theory. He has served for 11 years as a full-time minister for worship and has a wealth of experience and knowledge in all aspects of traditional and contemporary worship. He received his Ph.D. in Music Theory from the University of Texas at Austin in 1996 and has been at Cedarville University since 2002.