No matter what the religious denomination, spiritual worship is a central part of the lives of thousands of students seeking the college experience. For some students, this experience has such a profound impact that they are driven to seek a career as a worship leader. A good worship leader uses passion and public speaking skills to get their audience to feel the words being preached. They are responsible for building a spiritual relationship with the youth of their community through music and other cultural means. Instilling faith in the divine in young minds make being a worship leader one of the most fulfilling career choices for Theology and Early Childhood Education majors.
The specific requirements to become a worship leader may vary depending on the denomination you choose. With that being said, most worship leaders have a degree in Theology. This major provides students with the knowledge base to understand the core philosophies of each faith and how they relate to each other. Early Childhood Education is also a great degree for worship leaders since spiritually educating the youth of their community is one of their main duties.
In addition to this base education, you may need to earn a certification in the specific faith by working an internship under an experienced worship leader. This gives you the hands-on experience you need to be successful. Much of being a worship leader is comfort speaking in front of an audience, which is a skill that can only be perfected through practice.
Salary & Job Outlook
The salary of a worship leader can range anywhere between $30,000 and $45,000. This is largely dependent on the level of responsibility. Those on the low end of the scale are only responsible for leading worship services and recruiting church musicians. Those who are on the higher end of the pay scale also handle the administrative aspects.
The best part about being a worship leader is that it is a recession-proof job. Every state in the country has hundreds of places of worship. By the law of averages, you are destined to find a job as long as you keep looking. You can build experience at a small-town establishment and work your way up to being a worship leader at a mega-church.
The daily responsibilities of a worship leader vary based on their particular faith’s customs. For example, Sunday is the busiest day for Christian worship leaders while Saturday is the day of worship in the Hebrew faith. Most faiths also now offer times of worship throughout the week. On days of worship, the worship leader spends their time going over their presentation, practicing repeatedly to make sure they are conveying as much passion as possible. This includes running through the music with the musicians and choir singers to ensure everyone is on stage. Once the service starts the worship leader’s only job is to deliver their presentation with all of the passion and pizzazz they can muster.
On days with no scheduled service, the worship leader is responsible for administrative tasks that keep their house of worship running. They are responsible for recruiting and training musicians and also maintaining an ongoing community outreach program to recruit new members. Some worship leaders may also make themselves available for one-on-one counseling. For a worship leader with a focus on early childhood education, these non-service days are often spent teaching religious studies. It is this time where the worship leader has the chance to make the best positive impact on the youth of their community. Hours are usually irregular, with nights and weekends essentially a requirement. These hours; however, are a small price to pay for the daily job satisfaction that being a worship leader brings.
The only real technical skill required to be a worship leader is an extensive knowledge of their chosen faith. Worship leaders call upon this extensive knowledge when they put together their presentations. It is the leader’s interpretation and re-packaging of a faith’s core teachings that separates the average preacher from the true leader of worship. A degree in theology provides the starting base of knowledge to get a job, but the best worship leaders are ones who dedicate themselves to a lifelong study of their faith.
Besides this knowledge, all of the other skills needed to be successful are “people” skills. Proficiency in public speaking is hands down the most important quality of an effective worship leader. You can have the most knowledge of your faith and be as prepared as you can be, but the message will be lost completely if you aren’t comfortable talking in front of a crowd. Public speaking is a fear all humans share to a degree, so even those with a naturally outgoing personality must work to perfect their public speaking skills. You need to become a master of nonverbal communication, as scholars suggest up to 80% of our communication comes from non-verbals.
Compassion is the other key trait of a successful worship leader. Your congregation will turn to you with their worst problems and darkest secrets. It requires a great level of compassion to suspend judgment, even in the most despicable circumstances. Anyone who has come to you with their deepest transgressions is looking to follow the path towards redemption. It’s the job of the worship leader to extend the hand of the divine and spiritually rehabilitate these lost souls.
Finally, the well-rounded worship leader has business and marketing knowledge. Although places of worship are non-profit organizations, there are still costs of operation. The better the worship leader is running the congregation as a business, the more time they have to focus on their spiritual duties. The worship leader also is the head marketer of the congregation. They need to be able to devise effective strategies that grow the congregation and maintain a high level of satisfaction among the members. This involves coming up with community-building activities and fundraisers to fund their costs of operation.