The Not So Obvious Worship Leader: How is an instrumentalist a worship leader?

John Carlson is an outstanding musician, sax player, arranger and music director who I have had the privilege of working with while teaching with him at a worship conference.  His recordings and such can be found at www.johncarlsonmusic.com.  His artistry is one thing, but he also has a huge heart for people.  He is contributing a blog post at Tehilla Music.

Early in ministry I often wondered, being solely an instrumentalist and an instrumental music director in our church, how I was a worship leader. What role did I play in leading worship? How good of a spiritual leader was I? I felt woefully un-gifted in some of these areas, yet highly gifted in others that pertained to my job – many that were less visible. Over the years God and others helped me figure out a lot of those questions and I grew to find good balance. Continue reading →

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Rich Kirkpatrick

Rich Kirkpatrick

Writer, Speaker, and Musician. Rich Kirkpatrick was recently rated #13 of the “Top 75 Religion Bloggers” by Newsmax.com, having also received recognition by Worship Leader Magazine as “Editor’s Choice” for the “Best of the Best” of blogs in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

12 comments

  1. Easy. Romans 12:1. Offer your bodies as living sacrifices.
    Summarized… Serving God is an aspect of worship. Instrumentalists prove that you don’t have to be a public speaker or an extrovert or a diaper changer to serve God. Many times the band is the easiest place to get certain new believers into. Several people in our band at church first got involved there, developed their relationship with God, and are now leading others into the church by way of the band – to worship God.

    They lead others into worship not just through music but by being a community that helps people find another way to serve (worship) God.

    And now to put a spin on it… replace “band member” with “door greeter” or “sound guy” or “__________”. Serve God = worship God.

    This form of worship is part of a healthy lifestyle of worship alongside the other parts like Bible reading and prayer. Put them together and you got someone who understands true worship.

  2. Easy. Romans 12:1. Offer your bodies as living sacrifices.
    Summarized… Serving God is an aspect of worship. Instrumentalists prove that you don’t have to be a public speaker or an extrovert or a diaper changer to serve God. Many times the band is the easiest place to get certain new believers into. Several people in our band at church first got involved there, developed their relationship with God, and are now leading others into the church by way of the band – to worship God.

    They lead others into worship not just through music but by being a community that helps people find another way to serve (worship) God.

    And now to put a spin on it… replace “band member” with “door greeter” or “sound guy” or “__________”. Serve God = worship God.

    This form of worship is part of a healthy lifestyle of worship alongside the other parts like Bible reading and prayer. Put them together and you got someone who understands true worship.

  3. Easy. Romans 12:1. Offer your bodies as living sacrifices.
    Summarized… Serving God is an aspect of worship. Instrumentalists prove that you don’t have to be a public speaker or an extrovert or a diaper changer to serve God. Many times the band is the easiest place to get certain new believers into. Several people in our band at church first got involved there, developed their relationship with God, and are now leading others into the church by way of the band – to worship God.

    They lead others into worship not just through music but by being a community that helps people find another way to serve (worship) God.

    And now to put a spin on it… replace “band member” with “door greeter” or “sound guy” or “__________”. Serve God = worship God.

    This form of worship is part of a healthy lifestyle of worship alongside the other parts like Bible reading and prayer. Put them together and you got someone who understands true worship.

  4. Easy. Romans 12:1. Offer your bodies as living sacrifices.
    Summarized… Serving God is an aspect of worship. Instrumentalists prove that you don’t have to be a public speaker or an extrovert or a diaper changer to serve God. Many times the band is the easiest place to get certain new believers into. Several people in our band at church first got involved there, developed their relationship with God, and are now leading others into the church by way of the band – to worship God.

    They lead others into worship not just through music but by being a community that helps people find another way to serve (worship) God.

    And now to put a spin on it… replace “band member” with “door greeter” or “sound guy” or “__________”. Serve God = worship God.

    This form of worship is part of a healthy lifestyle of worship alongside the other parts like Bible reading and prayer. Put them together and you got someone who understands true worship.

  5. Chris, you make a good point. There is another component here as far as equivalence to the Levitical duties of musicians and others who lead in the corporate act of worship. The idea is that “leading” worship can be polishing the shields.
    Also, when we look at the biblical language for worship we find things like zamar “plucking string while offering praise” and todah “to offer praise and thanks while lifting hands. What that says is that there are some things special and distinct that musicians provide as far as representing biblical postures in a corporate worship service.

    So, while we offer ourselves completely as individuals, there are some things beyond that that are “worship”–see worship mythbusters for more on that. Question: If worship is everything, then is it not nothing?

  6. Chris, you make a good point. There is another component here as far as equivalence to the Levitical duties of musicians and others who lead in the corporate act of worship. The idea is that “leading” worship can be polishing the shields.
    Also, when we look at the biblical language for worship we find things like zamar “plucking string while offering praise” and todah “to offer praise and thanks while lifting hands. What that says is that there are some things special and distinct that musicians provide as far as representing biblical postures in a corporate worship service.

    So, while we offer ourselves completely as individuals, there are some things beyond that that are “worship”–see worship mythbusters for more on that. Question: If worship is everything, then is it not nothing?

  7. Chris, you make a good point. There is another component here as far as equivalence to the Levitical duties of musicians and others who lead in the corporate act of worship. The idea is that “leading” worship can be polishing the shields.
    Also, when we look at the biblical language for worship we find things like zamar “plucking string while offering praise” and todah “to offer praise and thanks while lifting hands. What that says is that there are some things special and distinct that musicians provide as far as representing biblical postures in a corporate worship service.

    So, while we offer ourselves completely as individuals, there are some things beyond that that are “worship”–see worship mythbusters for more on that. Question: If worship is everything, then is it not nothing?

  8. Chris, you make a good point. There is another component here as far as equivalence to the Levitical duties of musicians and others who lead in the corporate act of worship. The idea is that “leading” worship can be polishing the shields.
    Also, when we look at the biblical language for worship we find things like zamar “plucking string while offering praise” and todah “to offer praise and thanks while lifting hands. What that says is that there are some things special and distinct that musicians provide as far as representing biblical postures in a corporate worship service.

    So, while we offer ourselves completely as individuals, there are some things beyond that that are “worship”–see worship mythbusters for more on that. Question: If worship is everything, then is it not nothing?

  9. The old days of just the “praise singers” being the worship leader is over, if you are on stage then you are a worship leader, this has been a huge hurdle in our church and now we treat each other as leaders, sound person, monitor person, stage hand- even the bass player!!!
    If you are serving then you are a leader, there are other leaders around you in charge but you are leading.

    In the community outside the four walls of the church is one of the most important places to be a good example of a Christian leader, heart for those who don’t know Jesus is our mission, so let them see you as Him, and them as Jesus.

  10. The old days of just the “praise singers” being the worship leader is over, if you are on stage then you are a worship leader, this has been a huge hurdle in our church and now we treat each other as leaders, sound person, monitor person, stage hand- even the bass player!!!
    If you are serving then you are a leader, there are other leaders around you in charge but you are leading.

    In the community outside the four walls of the church is one of the most important places to be a good example of a Christian leader, heart for those who don’t know Jesus is our mission, so let them see you as Him, and them as Jesus.

  11. The old days of just the “praise singers” being the worship leader is over, if you are on stage then you are a worship leader, this has been a huge hurdle in our church and now we treat each other as leaders, sound person, monitor person, stage hand- even the bass player!!!
    If you are serving then you are a leader, there are other leaders around you in charge but you are leading.

    In the community outside the four walls of the church is one of the most important places to be a good example of a Christian leader, heart for those who don’t know Jesus is our mission, so let them see you as Him, and them as Jesus.

  12. The old days of just the “praise singers” being the worship leader is over, if you are on stage then you are a worship leader, this has been a huge hurdle in our church and now we treat each other as leaders, sound person, monitor person, stage hand- even the bass player!!!
    If you are serving then you are a leader, there are other leaders around you in charge but you are leading.

    In the community outside the four walls of the church is one of the most important places to be a good example of a Christian leader, heart for those who don’t know Jesus is our mission, so let them see you as Him, and them as Jesus.

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