Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Paul Guffey - Developing Students To Lead Worship

  • Updated Feb 01, 2002
Paul Guffey - Developing Students To Lead Worship
Continuing in our series on student worship, {{Paul Guffey}} focuses this article on Developing Students To Lead Worship. Paul is the creator and producer of Word Music's "==Student Worship Collection==" resource kit and is Worship Pastor at Two Rivers Church in Knoxville, TN. His twenty plus years as a conference worship leader spans several denominations, hundreds of events, and thousands of students. His practical insights on student worship will help you build a rock-solid foundation for your student worship ministry.

Picture this: standing room only, wandering eyes, laughter, celebration, clapping, transition, stillness, hearts open, prayers are whispered, a make-shift altar, confession, tears, chains broken, freedom, He moves, no pleading, no pros, just kids... face to face with their Father.

Students all over the world are coming into a new understanding of worship. No longer are they satisfied with simply singing, but rather their appetite grows for true intimacy with their Heavenly Father. One of the major reasons this movement within student ministry is growing is due to the fact that students are stepping up to the plate and using their gifts and talents to lead their peers in worship. I Timothy 4:12 is becoming real to them and they are setting the pace by providing leadership within their youth group.

It excites me to be able to speak with you about developing students who can lead. I'm excited to be able to speak to you as a student who wants to lead. I guess you can say this is my heartbeat! I've seen many students through the years change the whole landscape and culture in their community by simply being obedient to how the Lord wanted to use them in their youth group. The old saying, "The Lord is not looking for ability, but rather availability" definitely holds true here.

Students possess a variety of gifts, talents and abilities. Some are obviously better than others, but all come with a sense of excitement as they seek to please their Lord with their musical gifts.

I think you would agree that there is at least one in every group. You may be one yourself. You know them... the guy who always walks around with his guitar, the girl who plays a little piano, the kid banging on the drums, and the one who always wants "just one more song!" They have the talent... they just need the tools and some training. My goal in this article is to continue building the foundation for your worship ministry while focusing on principles for developing student-led worship. Okay, here we go...

In this article:
1) The Power In Student Worship
2) The Mission
3) Principles Of Worship

1) The Power In Student Worship
There is great power when students stand before their friends and show true devotion to Jesus through an open declaration of worship. I have seen nothing else that moves my heart more than when teens band together in this way. Whether you are developing a student band, vocal teams, choirs, or just simply one or two students learning to lead, the principle is the same: encourage them to use their talents to exalt and glorify the Lord and He will bless them. Remind them "it's about serving, not singing!" I tell my students all the time that the real blessing comes from serving humbly. The Lord reminds us in Isaiah 66:1-2 that the one He esteems is humble and contrite in sprit. The real power lies in watching God work through the yielded hearts and lives of students who have given their talents back over to Him. Students who understand and apply this principle will have a tremendous impact as worship leaders.

2)The Mission
It is really important that your young worship leaders have a good understanding of their mission. The team needs to understand that worship leading is a privilege and should be done with a sense of awe and reverence. This is a unique opportunity to lead others into the presence of God. With this in mind, their hearts and minds need to be clean and moldable to the purpose of God in their lives.

Accountability to a godly lifestyle will help deflate egos and produce long-term fruit. Let me encourage you to learn and teach this definition of worship by my good friend Chris Watson at First Bible Church in Decatur, Alabama. It is easy and to the point and you will be surprised at how it will stick. Here it is, "Worship is setting my mind's attention and heart's affection on God!" Challenge them to memorize and integrate it into their everyday life. Once they clearly understand the true meaning of Biblical worship then they will be able to impart it on their friends. The mission is to live a lifestyle of worship so that others will see God in their attitudes and actions. This is the type of worship that pleases the Lord and these are the worship leaders that He will use to change the world.

3) Principles Of Worship
The following is a list of principles for teaching and encouraging young leaders. This is not a complete list, but will hopefully serve to build understanding and start them in the right direction. The concepts are simple, yet provide the backbone to a successful student worship ministry.

* The Object Of Our Worship
-He alone is worthy to be worshipped and praised!

* Understand His Holiness
-You worship a holy God! (I Peter 1:15, Romans 12:2, Psalm 24:3-6, II Timothy 1:8-9)

* Matters Of The Heart
-Sin; the obstacle of worship (I John 1:9)

* Performance
-God is not impressed when your heart is out of tune! (Isaiah 59:1-2)

* Presence
-Focus to enter His presence during worship. Nothing else matters.

* Response
-Teach them to respond to the Holy Spirit. (John 14:26)

* Lifestyle
-Worship daily with your life. Romans 12:1

* Sound Level
-If they can't hear and understand the words... turn it down :-)

* Prayer
-Make sure that you spend adequate time in prayer before you try to lead others!

* A good motto for student worship leaders:
Participation over Performance
Equipping over Entertainment
Servanthood over Stardom
Holiness over Hype

I pray these thoughts and insights will encourage you as you develop into this area of ministry. In future articles I will expand on these principles and provide more direction. For now though, the key is to keep them focused on exalting Jesus and not getting bogged down with too many technical details. Keep hearts in tune and make a melody that will be a sweet, sweet sound to His ear.

Remember, prepare students for eternity...teach them to worship!


{{Paul Guffey}} is a nationally recognized Worship Leader and trainer in the area of student worship. His ==Student Worship Collection== resource kit is used all over the world to facilitate students and adults in worship. He welcomes your comments and feedback. His email address is

Paul Guffey, WorshipHim! and Used by permission. Photocopy permission is granted for local church use only.