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How to Be an Effective Worship Leader to All Generations

Kade Young
Kade Young
Chief Audio Guru

When you try to stay ‘relevant’ as a worship leader, people gripe that you are not singing enough hymns. Then, when you schedule older songs every week, people complain that worship is not relevant and will run off the younger generation.

Sound familiar? I bet it does. Even folks who are not overly opinionated have an opinion when it comes to music style.

To be a good worship leader, you may think that it is your job to offer a wide variety of music styles to keep the congregation happy. But, there are two problems with this:

Problem #1: You cannot make everyone happy.

The moment you start trying to make everyone happy is the moment you set off on a wild goose chase. And I’ll give you a hint…you’ll never catch it.

If you are choosing songs to make certain people happy, you are not serving your congregation well.

You see, people will suggest songs just because they like to listen to them, but choosing songs for worship should go much deeper than what we like or don’t like.

I believe the Holy Spirit leads us as worship leaders (if we let Him) to the songs our congregation needs to sing in that specific season. He knows what is going on in our lives, in our country and in our city. He also knows what is going to happen and can prepare our hearts through the songs we sing.

Problem #2: We should not come to church to be served.

Lots of people go to church because of what it can do for them. Yet, any mature christian knows that the purpose of church is to serve others.

When we allow people to govern our song selection, in most cases, we are feeding a selfish attitude. We are confirming their belief that church is all about them and what they like. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be part of the problem, I want to be part of the solution.

Am I saying that you should never take a song suggestion from the congregation? No. I am simply saying that other’s personal preferences should not distract from how the Holy Spirit is leading you.

So, how do I effectively lead all generations?

This post is about how to be an effective worship leader to all generations. Maybe you came expecting a formula on how often to schedule new songs versus hymns. Well, there isn’t one and here’s why.

To be an effective worship leader, you must be led by the Holy Spirit (not the congregation). When you give into other’s opinions, worship falls flat because you are not leading the congregation in the songs they need, you are leading them in the songs they want.

Worship falls flat when you lead the congregation in songs they want instead of songs they need. Tweet Quote

Every church is different.

One worship leader may be led to sing all modern songs where another may be led to sing mostly hymns. Even then, there will be worship leaders that are led to sing a mixture of styles.

There is no right or wrong answer to how many new songs you should sing versus old. The thing that matters most is that you are being led by the Holy Spirit and not other’s opinions.

When you are led by the Holy Spirit in your song selection, Sunday worship becomes powerful. And even those who are upset because you are not singing their style will eventually recognize the power in worship and forget all about their personal preference.

For more on how the Holy Spirit leads us as worship leaders, see: Balancing Planning and Spontaneity in Worship


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9 comments on “How to Be an Effective Worship Leader to All Generations”

  1. Firstly, I seriously appreciate your blogings! They've provided some fantastic insight as God is teaching me and shaping me to take on a larger role in worship leading.

    Secondly, I'd like to mention an important precursor to your encouragement to follow the Holy Spirit to find out what your congregation needs. It may be an obvious statement, but we as leaders need to be wholeheartedly working to cultivate a lifestyle that is in tune with the Holy Spirit. I know, I know, it strikes a "really, ya think?" kind of *duh* response saying that, but I remember a time when I knew that the worship leading I was doing was flat and dead. I wasn't being honest enough with myself to accept the truth of the condition of my soul. I was viewing worship as something done on Sunday, not as an attitude I needed to constantly approach God with.

  2. Thank you Kade for the succinct reasoning of being led by the Spirit and our focus there of. It's so easy to get into pleasing man instead of God.

    Secondly even when following the spirit in the design of our service, we still have a problem. This is where the real pastoral work comes in. We have the older generation not accepting the newer music and the newer generation not accepting the older music.

    How do we pastor the church to the maturity that they accept the music not of their generation. Note I did not say they like it, but they understand the need for it.

    A healthy church is a church where the generations worship together.

    1. Great thoughts, Karl. I am going to work on some actions steps for helping different generations in the church understand and respect each other. Keep your eyes peeled for a follow up post.

  3. Thank you for the encouragement and enlightenment. It is truly amazing how this issue of crossing generations with music touches every house of worship in some form. I look forward to your post on ways to overcome this road block.

  4. Amen! I have Galatians 1:10 as an art piece in my office to remind of this every day.

    1. Hi Kade,

      When I read the title I expected some practical steps but your emphasis on the Holy Spirit is even better! As a young and inexperienced worshipleader my highest goal is to be sensitive to the Spirit when making a setlist. It’s such a good reminder that we NEED to be led by the Spirit!!

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