A Christian Leadership Guide to Careers in Music Ministry

Music ministry worship crowd

As Dolores ascended the stairs of Chelton Baptist Church, located in the northern Philadelphia suburbs, the audience smiled with excitement and anticipation. Dolores, by far, was everyone’s favorite, largely because when she sang it truly seemed like an act of worship, not a show. And because her heart was there for the Lord, because her intentions were true and her voice powerful and beautiful, the people’s hearts were eager to join in.

Except, according to her family, when she sang at home.

“She’s awful,” her husband would share. “It sounds so bad when she practices at home that we have to leave the house.” Their children agreed.

“But,” he continued, “When she stands on that stage on Sunday, when she commits her time to the Lord and sings her worship to Him, everything changes and she sounds amazing.”

In much the same way, being a worship leader requires that you lead the people towards Christ and His glory, rather than yourself. And although there may be many stories such as Dolores’, where Christ shows up and makes something beautiful, more often than not, it is the diligent commitment to musical excellence and a relationship with the Lord that inspires true and authentic worship.

In today’s Christian culture, music ministry means a lot of things and can look very different, depending on location, the needs of the people, and the skillsets and passions you possess. What is constant, however, is the purpose of music ministry: to bring worship and praise to God.

If you have a heart to guide people towards a better understanding of and relationship with Christ, if you love music and believe it an avenue to glorify your Lord and Savior, pursuing music ministry might just be the perfect path for you. 

What Is Music Ministry?

Simply put, music ministry is a service to God that supports the sermon by leading the congregation through song and worship. But it’s more than that.

Music ministry is a vessel from which the church can “teach and admonish one another with wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit,” according to Colossians 3:16. It is also an avenue from which the church can express their hearts of gratitude toward God, through song, and which allows the believer to share their otherwise inexpressible and glorious joy (1 Peter 1:8). 

Guitarist music ministry“The word praise,” according to The Tree of Life Christine Ministries, “is derived from a Latin word meaning value or price.” To give praise, then, is to “proclaim His merit and worth in the life of the individual who praises Him.”

Music ministry, therefore, is the guiding and leading of believers in praise and worship towards God in such a way that both celebrates and glorifies Him, as well as encourages and admonishes those who follow Him.

And this can be done in a number of ways. From leading praise and worship at a church to traveling through your local, greater, and even global communities, music ministry is as diverse and unique as the men and women whom the gospel is hoping to reach and encourage. 

The most common, however, is joining a church and becoming a worship leader.

What Does it Mean to Be a Worship Leader?

Although the tasks and responsibilities often vary, here are a few basic tasks and responsibilities that are universal throughout almost any church, including but not limited to the ability to: 

These, however, are merely the tangible job descriptions and are secondary to your actual and more purposeful role: to lead and bring people closer to Christ.

To be a member of music ministry is to play a crucial role in the growth and development of one’s relationship with God. Spiritual preparation and maturity, therefore, is at the heart of music ministry and is perhaps the most crucial job description of any worship leader.

Your Relationship With Christ is Key

Music ministry concert eventBeing a skilled musician and efficient leader is critical to being a worship leader. More importantly, however, is your relationship with Christ. For like Doloras, if your heart is in the right place, God can move in mysterious ways. So although there is not a prescribed list of qualifications for being a worship leader, with such a great responsibility of leading and guiding the spiritual growth of the congregation, the following are often times expected:

What About Being a Full-Time Missionary?

If your heart and calling are more for the people outside your local church community, being a musical missionary is also an opportunity for you. Your relationship with Christ is still foundational and essential, but the day-to-day functions and expectations might look slightly different, depending on the organization and purpose of your mission. Such as:

How to Build a Career in Music Ministry

Music praise at St. PetersThere are no set requirements for becoming a worship leader, but there are some basic expectations. Being musically talented, both in playing various instruments and in the ability to organize and lead a worship team is one. So too is having obtained a bachelor’s degree, preferably with a Christ-centered and/or musically-based focus. 

Other requirements or expectations may include:

Experience leading worship. Be it in your local church youth group, nearby universities, or as a volunteer, gaining as much experience as you can playing music and leading people in praise and worship is extremely important to your growth and development as a worship leader.
Continued improvement of your musical craft. Whenever and however possible, continually work on your musical skills and abilities. Your heart may be in the right place and your passion sincere, but if you are not continually growing as a musician and one who can help others grow in their musicianship, you will struggle to land that lead role.
Dedication to knowledge and understanding of the Word. Being a worship leader is much more than merely playing quality. It is also being responsible for leading and guiding others closer to Christ. A dedicated pursuit of the Word and a relationship with the Lord, as well as a life marked by convictions and grace, is essential to being a worship leader.

A heart for service and community. Worship leaders are often considered leaders in the church and are therefore expected to encourage, support, and serve those in need. Establishing a routine and lifestyle that embodies a heart of service to your community is not only essential to the church, but to the calling of Christ. 

Although it is not required, earning a graduate degree can also set you apart from other worship leaders, especially if your hope or goal is to lead at a larger, more predominant church.

Why Become A Worship Leader?

Becoming a worship leader is to answer a calling. It is to commit your life to encouraging the men and women of Christ and leading them in worship and song. It is a life of service, both to Christ and to mankind, and it is an essential role within any church.

Dolores had a passion: to honor Christ. She also had a gift: singing. And although the beauty and power of her voice seemed absent while practicing at home, when she brought her heart and gift to the Chelton stage, when she presented it before the congregation as an offering to Christ, God was honored and the people were blessed.

If you have a heart for the Lord, if you love music and feel as though the Lord has blessed you with musical abilities and understanding, using that gift and understanding for the benefit of others and for the praise and glory of the Lord is not only biblical, it is foundational to the gospel.

And it is the reason why you should become a worship leader.