Worship Leading Takes Work

“Ambitious parents who are currently playing the ‘Baby Mozart’ video for their toddlers
may be disappointed to learn that Mozart became Mozart by working furiously hard.” 
― Geoff Colvin, Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else

W O R S H I P   L E A D I N G   T A K E S   W O R K

Have you had those weeks in worship when you have prepared diligently, rehearsed the team, practiced the cues and got everything “right” but then when church happened, it all fell apart? Inversely, how ‘bout those weeks where you hardly make a plan but somehow everything was pure fire? Worship ministry can be mysterious; sometimes it feels like the results are out of our hands. If you are like me you’ve had seasons where you’ve taken this dynamic for granted and rested too much on the mercy and favor of God.

Here’s the thing: God really loves his gathered Church. He commissioned it. He knows that our worship, when fully attentive to Him, will actually grow and edify us. Those 5 songs and that sermon comprise no ordinary event – this is the best gig of our lives and we get to live it over and over again. What an honor! When we gather, our job (as worship leader) is to help the people (a varied demographic) engage the invitation of God to worship Him. This is actually work. It’s work for the people and it’s work for the man or woman that is initiating that weekly rhythm.

Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” The Message paraphrases the end of this text with the sobering truth that “Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.”

We understand this idea when working outside the Church, but the irony is that we often forget it when working for the Church. Mediocre effort over the course of 52 weeks will produce mediocre results even if we have an occasional fire weekend or two. Your extraordinary singing gift or slamming multi-tracks might work for a while, but over the course of many seasons, this is not going to cut it. How and where can you grow as a worship leader in this season?

Where is your biggest weakness as a worship leader? 

Have you been “phoning it in” for a while? 

Are you administering your band’s songs, schedules, and pastoral care consistently? 

Are you giving away authority and replacing yourself? 

Are you attracting or repelling other creatives? 

Are your song choices and song order Biblically robust? 

Consider your next year in worship ministry. Pray and ask God to give you one or two goals to pursue, and commit yourself to grow in those areas. It might be learning piano or taking vocal lessons or learning how to better pastor from a mentor.  “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge” (Proverbs 18:15, ESV).


My name is Mike O’Brien and I am passionate about teaching and mentoring worship leaders and teams. My calling is to use my experience as a producer, worship leader, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist to come alongside musicians, helping them more fully worship God with their instrument and lives. Find out more about how I can help your worship leaders and teams HERE.


Rehearsal Tip #1: Step Away From the Mic

Finding Balance with Vocal Ensembles

A few weeks ago during an early morning worship band rehearsal at Vineyard Community Church I asked our sound  team member to capture something (on his iPhone) we’ve been doing for a long time: stepping away from the mic to hear and tweak our vocals. Check it out here:

In our world of in-ear monitors we can easily loose the humanity of our harmony because we are so separated by sound technology. This is the same with wedge monitors as well. To remedy this, we periodically  get close to one another in a circle and sing the song. We look each other in the eye and communicate in a way that is impossible looking forward and hearing the band in the vacuum of our monitoring. In bluegrass music there is oftentimes just one mic that all the musicians share; they use proximity to balance the instruments and voices. I have found this is a beautiful way to enjoy and tweak what we really sound like! Try it during your next rehearsal. Exercises like this and more are a part of the worship training I do in churches, check it out HERE.