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What Does a Worship Leader Do? Part 3
By Bob Kauflin
Director of Worship Development, PDI Ministries
June 20, 2002

Worship Matters- Apart from the activity of the Holy Spirit, it is impossible to worship God.

PDI Ministries -
We’re in the midst of a series on the responsibilities and goals of a worship leader. Last time we looked at what it means to lead effectively. The second phrase in the definition I proposed is this: an effective worship leader is “aided and led by the Holy Spirit.”

Apart from the activity of the Holy Spirit, it is impossible to worship God. Paul tells us in Philippians 3:3, “For we are the real circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.” Gordon Fee writes, “For Paul, the gathered church was first of all a worshiping community; and the key to their worship was the presence of the Holy Spirit.” (Gordon Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, pg. 884) But what does it mean to worship by the Spirit of God?

In his 1980 book, O Come Let Us Worship, Professor Robert Rayburn sheds light on the relationship between our worship and the Spirit of God. “The enabling of the Holy Spirit, so essential to true Christian worship, according to the Scriptures, means that worship is not just an act of man alone, but in it man is moved and enabled by the Spirit of God. If worshipers are not consciously dependent upon the Holy Spirit, their worship is not truly Christian" (Robert Rayburn, O Come, Let Us Worship, pg. 22).

If we don’t recognize our need for the Holy Spirit’s involvement as we worship Him, what we’re doing can’t be defined as Christian worship. Certainly if Christians in general need the Holy Spirit to worship God, it must be true of the one who is leading them in public praise.

In practice, this involves listening for the direction of the Holy Spirit before, during, and at the close of the meeting. This is not about whether you consider yourself charismatic, nor is it about tossing scriptural principles to the wind and trusting your “spiritual knower.” Rather, this is what the Bible clearly teaches. We MUST in some way be aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence and active involvement in what we do as we gather to worship God.

Some worship leaders excel at having every song, transition, arrangement, and word planned out before the meeting begins. Others thrive on the spontaneous aspects of corporate worship, disdaining all advance preparation and study. The truth is, planning and spontaneity are both important. We must be diligent to plan – without being ruled by our plan. The Holy Spirit wants to be involved in all aspects of our worship. This marks the difference between simply singing songs and expecting God to interact with us.

To be aided and led by the Holy Spirit is also to resist the urge to become familiar with what we do, as though our actions were totally responsible for what transpires during our time together. We need a better reason to do a song than “it really got people going last week.” While songs, format, settings, and sound are important, none of them make the involvement of God’s Holy Spirit any less crucial.

Similarly, leading worship is more than uttering all the right phrases. It involves responding to God’s spontaneous initiatives and promptings. A phrase that inspired faith last week may sound flat and uninspired this week. What part of His truth and character does God want to bring to the forefront of people’s minds THIS week, and what is the best way to do it? That is the question we seek to answer as we are aided and led by the Holy Spirit.

Until next time, may you be freshly aware of God’s kindness in sending His Holy Spirit to apply to our hearts all that Jesus secured for us.

For His glory,


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