How to Grow as a Worship Musician

Whether you’re a new worship leader or have been leading every Sunday for 20 years, it can be challenging to know how to improve as a worship musician. Jason Houtsma from Worship Artistry joined Matt McCoy to talk about why we should want to continue to grow and his tips for how we can.

Why should we grow as worship musicians?

Worship leaders can sometimes have the mindset that they know how to lead worship and so they’re all set. We push the buttons the same way, play the same four chords, and we can get in a rut of doing what we’ve always done. So why should we continue to grow as musicians?

Jason: “Being in a rut is not fun. It’s not fulfilling or inspiring. For a long time in worship myself, I spent a lot of time going through the cycle of getting involved, getting over-involved, crashing for a while, then getting back in. A lot of that was me not realizing my limits, but also if you’re not progressing it’s not very fulfilling. We all love to worship. But no one got on a worship team to struggle through a chord chart and play the same songs each week. There is a world in which we keep getting better and learning from the songs we’re playing. Keep improving because it’s more fulfilling and it’s more fun!”

There are different seasons for a worship leader, but when you continue to grow it can encourage you to keep going.

Jason: “When you’re actually enjoying something, you want to keep going.”

Improving as a new worship leader

If you’re a new worship leader, you want to get the basics down first.

Jason: “There’s two steps to being a musician. There’s being able to copy, and being able to create from that. Being able to copy well is an important part of the process. A lot of musicians haven’t played with a band before. So being able to copy what someone is doing in a band gets you comfortable and fluent in the “language” that is happening. When you understand music and are confident in it, you can get more creative.”

Getting a lot of experience and exposure to playing is also very important as a worship musician.

Jason: “Try and play anywhere. Listen to other stuff. Sometimes the ruts we get into are because we’re only listening to one sound. This can help you be excited about continuing on.”

Improving as an experienced worship leader

If you’ve been leading worship for years, you may feel like you have it all down and you’re just on cruise control each Sunday.

Jason: “I’m in that spot right now. I have been leading worship for 20 years and if I wanted to, I could phone it in. But once you are proficient in music, you don’t have to think about the basics as much anymore which allows you to be more creative. You can keep pushing yourself musically. Another way to improve is to start focusing on how you can grow spiritually. Start building your spiritual muscle memory. I played guitar long before I taught guitar, but now I can teach it. Worship leaders should strive to get to a point where they can start imparting their wisdom to others. That’s what we’re called to do.”

Making sure that you aren’t just focused on the tasks you need to do as a worship leader, but are also focusing on your spiritual life is crucial.

Jason: “I had an awakening three years ago and what it came down to was I wasn’t nurturing my spiritual life. I was working for God and I was thinking about God, but I wasn’t taking time to speak and listen to God. I changed up my routine and spent time listening, praying, reading, etc. Then I had so much more to give as a worship leader.”

We encourage you to continue seeking out mentors and resources that will help you grow as a worship musician and worship leader. For the full interview, check out the video below.


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