Spiritual Gifting vs Musical Gifting in Worship Leaders

Guest post by Aaron Keyes, 10KFAM Founder

Worship leadership is such a unique role in the church today. We need to cultivate our musical giftings while not neglecting our spiritual giftings.

One mistake I've seen worship leaders make in this pursuit is conflating the two.

There are several different sections in the Bible that often get lumped together under the heading of “spiritual gifts”: typically Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12 & 14, and Ephesians 4. I’d encourage you to read through those sections and see what you find.

Is worship leading there? It won’t take long until you realize that, no, worship leading is not a spiritual gift–it’s not even mentioned in those sections. What’s more: worship leading is not even mentioned in the entire New Testament! The New Testament has a few verses about singing, lots of verses about worship, and lots more about leadership. But the New Testament has precisely zero verses that mention worship leadership as we understand it today. With worship leading being such a prominent role in many of today’s churches, what are we to make of this?

Historically, there weren't hired worship leaders. If you look back to the Old Testament Levites who played music in the temple, please remember those were musicians who happened to be Levites (read: priests). What qualified them to be priests had everything to do with their lineage, character, and competency–their musicianship was auxiliary. 

Today, we are at a fascinating new point in church history that has never existed before: we place people in leadership positions simply because of their musicianship, with tacit disregard to matters of character and pastoral competency. 

This has never happened before.

We are the first generation in the history of the Church to assume that just because someone can lead us musically, they ought also to lead us spiritually. That would have been unheard of in the early church, as it was for the first two millenia. But it all started changing at the end of the 20th Century when several leaders who were extremely (spiritually) gifted as Apostles and Prophets also happened to be decent musicians. They would lead apostolically and prophetically (strongly and powerfully) with mediocre, simple music, and this got the ball rolling in the 1960s and 70s. Within a few decades, we have come to completely conflate the two roles.

It’s a dangerous move because worship leaders are now hired for their musical proficiency, and subsequently fired for their pastoral character deficiency.

The greatest gift you can give to your community is the person you’re becoming. That has a lot more to do with you fanning into flame the actual spiritual gifts God has given you than over-inflating the spiritual significance of the musical gifts He’s also given you. 

These are the types of things we focus on at 10KFAM in both Worship School and Mere Worship. Whether you’re a worship leader or a worship team/band member we’d love to get to know you and have you join our FAM!

Worship Artistry Note

Worship School is a fully accredited, in-depth discipleship process where they spend 18 months coaching worship leaders who lead songs to become worship pastors who lead people. This is the preeminent training opportunity for worship leaders, songwriters, and pastors to come together for a season of purposeful investment, practical instruction, and profound life change. They are based in Colorado Springs and host Worship School Intensives twice a year–once in the fall, once in the spring. The programs are also available online. The next Worship School kicks off October 24-28, 2022 and applications are open now! Apply here.

Mere Worship is a subscription-based, online community of worship leaders that focuses on the paradigms and practices of effective worship leadership through on-demand video lectures and weekly or monthly office hours. 

If you’d like more information, email team@10kfam.com or visit the website.

Listen to Aaron Keyes speak more about true measure of a good worship leader on the Worship Artistry Podcast.

Spiritual Gifting vs Musical Gifting in Worship Leaders

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