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Mentoring novice worship leaders is a crucial part of our work as experienced worship leaders. As you will see in this series of posts, education alone falls short in providing much-needed direction in the life and ministry of worship leaders. In these six posts, my friend Bobby Craig draws from his extensive research in this field as part of his doctoral project to help us understand the vast need and how we, as more seasoned worship leaders, can best fill the gap. If you missed the previous articles, check them out first.

Kenny

By Dr. Bobby Craig

The demands placed upon worship leaders in the twenty-first-century church are heavy. There is a high level of expectation not only in what gets done, but also in how it gets done, often with nothing less than perfection being tolerated by senior pastors, church leaders, and congregations. An even heavier weight comes to bear when one considers the tremendous influence worship leaders have on the doctrinal health of individuals in their congregations. No worship leader can have natural giftedness or a perfect educational path that grants them the facilities to lead an effective worship ministry as soon as they step foot into the field. The demands are too great. However, intentional mentoring can connect natural giftedness to academic training as well as address the shortcomings of both. This study purposed to examine the great need for veteran worship leaders to spend the time and exert the energy necessary to develop novice worship leaders through intentional mentoring.

There are three specific arenas in which this study indicates the veteran worship leader should take action toward mentoring the novice worship leader. It is unlikely any veteran worship leader will be able to simultaneously undertake all three of these suggestions, but it is completely possible to develop all three within different stages of the veteran worship leader’s ministry.

Academia

The first arena that must be addressed is academia. Many schools training worship leaders are filled with instructors who have never led a successful and effective worship ministry. They may be teaching excellent musical and practical skills while also teaching important principles, but they may lack real-world experience to help the novice worship leader develop functional usage of those skills and principles in actual, everyday worship ministry. The veteran worship leader should offer to share their vast experience within the academic programs by becoming adjunct faculty, humbly offering to participate in specific class segments for practical application of class material, or by volunteering to be a mentor to the worship leaders in training through structured or unstructured mentorships.

Local or Regional Churches

Second, a veteran worship leader should prayerfully seek to find local or regional churches that have recently hired or currently have new, inexperienced worship leaders and offer to be a mentor. As stated earlier, mentorships are only successful when the protégé agrees to follow the guidance of a mentor. If the first few offers to mentor are rejected, move on to the next church and the next opportunity. If God has made it clear that one is to pass along what they have learned (2 Timothy 2:2), then God will also guide the veteran worship leader to a novice worship leader eager to accept the guidance and instruction. As an additional note here, if you are a church lucky enough to have a veteran worship leader, please encourage and allow them to step outside the four walls of your church and mentor other worship leaders in your area.

Your Church

A third arena for the veteran worship leader to engage is within their own church ministry. There is a high likelihood that God has placed one or more future worship leaders within the congregation to which one serves. Whether or not these future worship leaders have experienced a “calling” to vocational ministry in worship or have intentions to pursue worship ministry in college, they are almost certainly out there and can most certainly benefit from the veteran worship leader’s guidance through intentional mentoring. This sort of mentoring can take the form of a one-on-one purposeful relationship or a classroom-type mentorship that guides a group of future worship leaders. I have personally seen and experienced positive results from both formats.

In any case, one thing is for certain: The most successful and effective mentorships are accomplished by the intentional effort of the mentor to develop these qualities, skills, and characteristics in their protégés. Intentionality is the key component to seeing the veteran worship leader mentor the novice worship leader toward growth in the protégé’s spiritual life and the ministries they serve.

We started this series with the following quote from Spradlin: “There appears to be a clear need in our North American churches for more spiritually maturing, artistically skilled worship leadership; leaders who are clearly called, biblically sound, spiritually dynamic, pastorally oriented, artistically skilled, and specifically trained for worship ministry in our churches and their missional assignments.”[1] There are, no doubt, some worship leaders who have natural giftedness in some of these areas, and there certainly are others who gain mastery over other areas through academic pursuits, but nothing prepares a worship leader as effectively and efficiently as intentional mentorship by a veteran worship leader.

We saw that there is significant biblical evidence of Jesus as the ultimate example of mentorship. He was intentional. Jesus modeled for the disciples how to be a mentor. He also taught the disciples to be mentors. He gave them authority to go out in His name, to do the things He had done. Studying Jesus’ intentionality with His disciples can give significant guidance to veteran worship leaders as we seek to mentor the novice worship leaders He leads us to. The origins of this phrase are ambiguous, but the call is not, “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?” Now is the time for veteran worship leaders to step up and lead more than worship.

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[1] Byron L. Spradlin, “Discipling Worship Leadership: Biblical and Theological Rationale for Discipling Worship Leaders” (DMin diss., Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, 2012), 4, https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/ doctoral/542.

Dr. Bobby Craig

With nearly thirty years in worship ministry leadership in various churches throughout Alabama, Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, Bobby has experienced almost everything a church music ministry can throw at him. Not only does his vast experience provide support to his ministry, but he also holds a Bachelor of Music from Samford University in Birmingham, AL, a Master of Music from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX, and a Doctor of Worship Studies from Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. Bobby currently lives in Moulton, AL with his wife, Heather, and three daughters, Evangeline, Eliza, and Melody.