10 Tests Of A Good Worship Leader

How are you doing as a worship leader? How do you know if you are a good worship leader? Let me suggest a few guidelines that will help to quantify your leadership.


10 Tests Of A Good Worship Leader

1. Is the congregation singing with you?

When you look out at the congregation, are they singing? Do you have a way to quantify how well your congregation is participating? Can you hear the congregation from the stage?

Note: There are some people who rarely sing and that’s between them and God. But is the majority of your congregation singing?

2. Is the congregation worshiping God with you? 

The Biblical actions of worship are singing, playing instruments, lifting hands, clapping, shouting, dancing, bowing down and standing. Is your congregation worshipping God in these ways in your corporate worship times?

3. Is the congregation growing in their worship of God?

Is your congregation growing? Are there more people here this year than last? Are more people participating in corporate worship this year than last?  Do you get reports that the congregation senses God in the midst of your corporate worship time? 

Note: Some areas of growth are beyond a worship leader’s responsibility. The general growth and maturity of a congregation is a whole team effort.

4. Is the worship band prepared?

Are you having good rehearsals? Is the attendance at those rehearsals strong? Does the band know the music so well that they can get beyond the music and worship on Sunday mornings?

5. Is the worship band growing and improving?

Is your worship band stuck in a rut? Are you adding new members? Are you growing spiritually and musically? Is your worship team growing spiritually and musically?

6. Is the worship band worshiping?

Is the band just playing music or are they worshiping as they play? When the congregation looks at the band and singers are they inspired to worship God? Are you and your team modelling what you want to see in the congregation?

7. Are you training up new worship leaders?

Jesus told us to make disciples. If your area of ministry is worship then you need to work on growing new worship leaders. Are new worship leaders growing up in your ministry?

8. Is the pastoral staff worshiping with you?

Having a good relationship with the pastoral staff is integral to your long-term success. Does the staff trust you on stage? Are they setting a good example in their worship of God?

9. Are you spending regular time with God in Bible reading and prayer?

Public leading is only the tip of the iceberg. Your personal relationship with God is the most important part of your worship. How is your prayer and Bible reading doing?

10. Do you worship God in private or just on stage?

A danger sign for worship leaders is if their worship is just public. God is more impressed with what you do in the ‘Secret Place’. How is your daily worship of God? Are you singing and worshiping in private?

Question: Are these valid ways to quantify worship leadership? Am I missing any key questions?

Check out my new book.. “Leading Worship ~ Notes from a Grand Adventure available in Kindle or Soft Cover Editions.  This is a great gift for the musician or worshipper in your life.

This blog is part of my vision to train over 100,000 worship leaders around the world. If you would like to support this vision you can help by giving any amount through this PayPal account.

About Mark Cole

Jesus follower, Husband, Father, Worship Leader, Writer, Pastor, Church Consultant, Founding Arranger for Praisecharts.com, squash & tennis player, blogger & outdoor enthusiast.. (biking, hiking, skiing). Twitter: @MarkMCole Facebook: mmcole
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26 Responses to 10 Tests Of A Good Worship Leader

  1. You have raised very important points. I agree and these things are a continual challenge even when you have led worship for years.

  2. Adam Lowe says:

    Some really great points here. I’d say the best two have been saved until the last. It’s a struggle to achieve all ten, but it should at least be our aim.

  3. sweetjoey says:

    #4 is very important and extremely overlooked.

    if the music isn’t second nature, you cannot truly enter into worship on your instrument.
    no one will listen to me, but maybe they will listen to you Mark.

    #10 is interesting in the fact that I am more comfortable in private when it comes to worship but when a bass is in my hands, nothing is more natural.

  4. Vic says:

    #9 is the most important of all, yet (suggestively) there should be a 9 “B” added to it ….. “Are you sharing your faith with the “non churched” outside of your regular church work”?

  5. fred bachmann says:

    All great points,and will help me and all worship leaders grow.

  6. Sam Aceves says:

    Thanks so much for these points. Really convicted me in my own worship leading and in my own deco time with the Lord. Praying I can have better answers to these questions.

  7. Joe says:

    I agree with many of these, but the church I’m at is extremely nonexpressive in their worship and it’s like pulling teeth to get them to sing, unlike my former church where we raised to roof to God. So, I guess the first three points above would depend on your Church’s worship culture. Jesus Himself could be leading the worship and they are just not going to engage (the way I think they should) but perhaps in their own way they are connecting with God. I’m in a very traditional style church that unfortunately likes to be spectators and be entertained. I’m trying my best to help change that but it feels like I’m going up hill. I’ve had to realize that it’s not up to me to get people to worship. God calls me to be faithful in doing what I’m doing in congregational worship. It’s up to Him to move the people to worship.

    • Mark Cole says:

      That makes worship leading a lot tougher.. I see more and more congregations where people don’t participate.. it’s not good.

      • Norm says:

        I was visiting a contemporary worship service about a year ago. As the worship leader at my church, I don’t get the chance to experience what happens in any other churches much. My church is a “blended service” of traditional and contemporary.

        So, I was was interested to see what this purely contemporary service would be like. It is also a quite large congregation as well.

        What I noticed was a lack of singing participation by quite a few, myself included as I wasn’t familiar with probably 90% of the songs presented (they had a beautiful screen system with the lyrics). But then, in the middle of a medley, the song “Amazing Grace” was incorporated, suddenly the volume of participation dramatically increased. You could hear the whole congregation taking part, then when the medley moved onto another song, again unfamiliar to me, the volume returned to its previous anemic sound.

        Now, I’m not dissing contemporary over traditional, my point is that I think the main problem was “too much new” at one sitting. At least that was my impression as an outsider. The worship band/team were excellent musicians and we’re obviously well rehearsed. I just think too many of the songs were unfamiliar to the congregation. That’s always a consideration when planning worship, that is, having a good balance of familiar and unfamiliar.

        The few times I’ve been to a contemporary service, that seems to be the a common problem. Traditional services often suffer from “over familiarity” of the music and people are just bored, and thus, stop participating. Other considerations are some songs are too difficult or unsuitable for congregational singing.

        Didn’t mean to go on so long but your comment about lack of participation by the congregation reminded me of my recent experience. Anyway, just my two cents.

  8. Greg Jones says:

    Mark, I appreciate your humility in the question you posed at the end of your article.

    I think you are missing something very critical. I have found that I can lead worship in exactly the same way for two congregations and one will showing the signs of participation you list in points 1-3 and the other will not.

    Points 4-7: Yes I’ve seen worship leaders drop the ball preparing worship bands. But I’ve also found that some worship bands actually resist preparation. In that latter scenario, the best that worship leader can do is to pray & try to affect for a cultural change. But until then, the team will continue to be unprepared….

    As for pastors working with us, that’s a two-edged sword too. Sometimes that is the worship leader’s fault but sometimes it is the Pastor’s fault. I’ve seen both sides there too.

    I think you put way too much power and therefore way too much responsibility on worship leaders. We only have so much control. This makes me MORE thankful when I land at a church with healthy DNA and more fearful when I’m serving an unhealthy church. When it is the latter, I can do little to change the points you make in this article. In that scenario, the health is in the hands of other leaders.

    I think your article risks giving worship leaders who suffer from things outside their control an unreasonable insecurity and can unnecessarily demoralize them.

    • Mark Cole says:

      Hi Greg.. Thanks for your well-though out comments.. I agree that not everything is within our control. Our job is to do the best we can do with all the tools that are available.
      You’re also correct in saying that different congregations will respond differently… I too value good DNA.. but we can all improve from wherever our start point is.. and that’s the point of the discussion. Good leaders affect change, no matter what the situation.
      I don’t think your last assertion is correct though… The vast majority of worship leaders seem to be accepting these points as goals and challenges rather than something that demoralized them..

  9. Carla Anderson says:

    I love the spiritual emphasis here, and reminders that worship goes far beyond how the music itself comes together. Thank you for pointing to these key elements! #10 was especially challenging.

  10. I’d like to add the question:
    Is worship your true calling of ministry?

    I’ve seen many a worship leader (and team members) simply going through the motions. It’s not that they don’t love music and worship. Many really do have gifted talent. Most will also say that they’ve been called to ministry. Which is between them and God. It’s when they assume that their talent is their ministry that becomes the issue. They take God’s plan (ministry) and make it their plan (worship) because it seems like the logical step. The end result is a half-hearted attempt at effective worship at the cost of the congregation and/or the church as a whole.

  11. John Plant says:

    Some good challenging questions. I would agree that the last two are possibly the most important for its in the quite place we learn to hear and respond to God, to the Holy Spirit’s leading. I remember having a short time of praise and worship one morning and heard God say “is that all I’m getting today?”. Needless to say I continued. Can’t say though that I can answer some of the others in a positive light, particularly on growth. Greg brings out some important points too. Also have to agree with Norm, some of the new songs don’t seem to ‘stir the heart’ like some of the older ones and as for the band, the songs which are familiar are far easier to worship with. I experienced the same effect at Grapevine – a gathering of churches from all over the UK – where in the big top the leader took us into the hymn Praise my soul the King of Heaven, and the congregation participation and volume more than doubled.
    My concern though is that are we falling into the same ‘trap’ as our forbears who didn’t move with the changing music scene and finished up with an aging congregation.
    How do we avoid alienating either the young or the old?

    • Mark Cole says:

      How do we avoid alienating the young or the old?… tough question.. I’m working in that situation right now. We’re partly addressing that by having a specific service geared for the older more conservative crowd. I find it’s always a bit of a balancing act.. adding enough hymns and older familiar choruses while still introducing some of the great new songs in that service.. It’s definitely a challenge!

  12. Dan McGowan says:

    Great thoughts. Not sure I agree with the point about the pastoral staff worshiping – obviously, we want them to fully engage in worship. But worship is a personal choice for all of us, regardless of what is happening on the platform. I am not “in charge of” or “responsible for” the worship of the pastors. That is between them and the Holy Spirit. We are not called to MAKE worship happen. We are simply called (and crafted and equipped) to use the creative gifts God has given us to help change the atmosphere in the room. Then, let the Holy Spirit run the ball from there.

    • Mark Cole says:

      Good points.. we can’t make anyone worship .. but we do want to ‘set the table’ so the congregation and staff want to participate… But, one has to ask.. if they are ‘not eating’.. what’s the problem?.. is this the wrong food for this congregation or is there another problem? Are the staff too busy with other things to do the most important thing.. loving God through worshiping Him? If the leaders of the flock are not setting a good example then what is the chance that the congregation will?

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