Are We Building Fans or Worshippers?

Are we building fans or worshippers? (Lightstock)

After hearing of the dissemination of Mars Hill Church after Mark Driscoll's resignation, my heart sank.

It's sad to see an organization rise and fall on the personality of one leader.

Sure, there were other factors involved. But all of that has been teaching me lessons on how to be a better worship leader.

If I'm a leader of worship, my goal is to lead people away from dependence on me and deeper dependence on the Holy Spirit—teaching them how to lead themselves in worship.

I'm asking these questions:

  • How equipped is my congregation to worship when crisis hits?
  • How equipped is my congregation to worship when they are promoted?
  • How equipped is my congregation to worship when they receive a bad diagnosis?
  • How equipped is my congregation to worship when Monday comes?
  • How equipped is my congregation to worship without songs, engaging atmospheres and powerful performances?

I always long for worship to be more than simply songs and services and experiences. It's so much more about what happens on Monday morning than what happens on stage. It's more about prioritizing God's presence day to day.

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Steal the Show

Oftentimes my leadership style makes the congregation of worshippers dependent on me. If worship is a 24/7 activity, wouldn't it make sense that we equip our people to be worshippers as they leave just as much as we encourage them to engage in corporate singing?

Sadly, worship often doesn't happen unless there's the right song, the right band, the right keyboard pad, the proper drum groove and the perfect alignment of melody and harmony.

But here's what I'm discovering: The best worship leaders lead people to connect with God on their own. It's not so much about how many fans a worship leader has or how many people love their ministry. It's ...

  • Are people learning how to worship?
  • Are they pursuing Jesus outside of church?
  • Are they taking steps to raise their voice, declare what's in their heart and sing out of their pain?

When it comes down to it, I don't want to leave people in awe of me. I want to give people the tools they need to lead themselves in worship—to follow the Holy Spirit in their everyday lives. The age of celebrity church leaders needs to die.

We need leaders who are willing to labor and strive to leave people with a greater taste of God's goodness. A greater perspective of His glory. A higher vision of Majesty.

Fans or Worshippers?

You know what's an interesting thought?

"If the only spiritual input people received in my church was my worship leading, how close to Jesus would they be? Or would they simply be my fans and need me to lead them?"

Are we building fan-bases or worshippers? Are we fostering discipleship or entertainment?

It comes down to how you lead.

Being more aware of God's presence than you are of your own performance.

Prioritizing the raised voice of your congregation over the pumping creativity of your band.

Choosing songs people connect with over songs that you sound good singing. Let's labor to develop worshippers—worshippers who love Jesus and know that He is all they need.

Question: How has this post challenged your thinking? What are some practical ways you are developing worshippers who can lead themselves day to day?

David Santistevan is the worship pastor at Allison Park Church in Pittsburgh. For the original article, visit

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