"For Those Who Are Passionate About Reaching The Younger Generation"

Youth Ministry Topics Developing Student Praise and Worship

Spirit Led Worship

Joel Engle

So often, as time goes by, worship leaders get impatient to see the hand of God move people in a worship environment. Because music can be a powerful force in worship, we can very easily slip into modes of manipulation. We have to constantly remind ourselves that we are mere facilitators of the Holy Spirit and not allow our flesh to get in the way. I see this behavior especially in younger worship leaders who try to keep the momentum of experience moving from week to week and event to event. We have to remember that every single person is at a different place in their spiritual journey and some have not yet begun their journey with Christ. The flesh has a desire to overpower others for selfish gain and the worship leader WILL be tempted to use that power for all of the wrong reasons. That is why is it soooo important for every one of us to be empowered and dependent upon the Holy Spirit of God every single time we begin to minister in His name.

We must understand that our first job as a minister is to ?get out of the way? and allow the Spirit of Christ full control of our lives.

"Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh"
(Galatians 5:16).

The only way to protect the authenticity of a worship experience is to walk in the power and the authority of the Holy Spirit as we lead. There are techniques of communication and musical "tricks of the trade" that can be good at times, but if they are of the flesh they will "profit nothing". The Holy Spirit knows what each heart needs and is quite able to effectively minister accordingly. Ephesians 5:18 says

"Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery (party lifestyle). But, be filled with the Spirit."

We are filled with the Spirit at the point of salvation but whether we allow Him to control our lives on a consistent basis is up to us.

Each worship event should be different from the next due to the different needs of each particular audience. We have to be very careful to not have false conceptions of what we think God should do in a worship service. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in worship? Every worship leader should be quite aware of what this role of God\'s Spirit is in the life of the believer.

The Holy Spirit is a Comforter

I would say there has never been a worship service where hurting people did not attend. Many times I was the one who was hurting even as I led the worship! Yet, through Christ, we have great comfort from Him in His precious Holy Spirit! John 16:7 "And I will pray to the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever." There are many different translations of the original New Testament word for the Holy Spirit: Counselor, Helper and Advocate. The actual Greek word is "Paraclete" and means Comforter. And oh, what a Comforter He is to us! Through our trials and our moments of grief or defeat, the Holy Spirit comes to us and reminds us of "how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ".

We are loved by God himself. Even when we stray from intimacy from Christ, he is a faithful friend who patiently abides with us in our times of weakness. How can a worship leader minister effectively if he or she is ignorant of such a great Comforter as the Holy Spirit? As we lead, we must allow the Spirit of God to use us to tell of the great love that the Father has for His children. If we are not sure of God\'s love for us as ministers, how can we convey it to those under our care? There are many believers who feel alienated from God because of sin or guilt. The Holy Spirit comes and says to us, "Child, your sins have been paid for by the Lord Jesus Christ! Now you can draw near to me in full confidence of my love for you." Too often, I am sad to say, that my own lack of understanding of the grace of God has brought condemnation on God\'s most beloved children. May it never be again! The Holy Spirit of God is a Comforter to His children not a condemner. May God use all of us to unchain the throngs of people who have been lied to by the enemy of God! May all of us find our comfort in Him!

The Holy Spirit is the Truth

"God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship Him in spirit and truth." (John 4:23)

The Holy Spirit is God! He is just as much a part of the Trinity as the Father and the Son. He is the truth and anyone who desires worship must worship through Him! He alone inspired the Scriptures and He is our Guide to understanding the heart of the Father. In John 14:17 Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Truth. He will guide us in the truth of God\'s Word and in leading people into the Truth of the Gospel of Christ. Many times the work of the Spirit of Truth may go beyond our comfort level and our past experiences, but He will never go beyond the truth! The problem usually is that we are not as well aquainted with the truth as we think we are! We measure the work of God against our own experience and world-view and find comfort within those "safe" parameters. We have a tendency to try to predict what God is going to do within our flesh-bound, carnal reasoning. Although the Spirit of God is foreign to confusion (1 Cor 14:33), He is also a stranger to boredom!

The Holy Spirit teaches us the truth of heaven, He unravels the mysteries of eternity, and He reveals the nature of God to us via the Word of God. As worship leaders, we should be well-equipped in the Word of God, so the Holy Spirit can use us to teach others who God really is! More often than not, worship leaders are stereotyped as great musicians who have nothing to say. That wave of thought is reinforced when we say things that have no Scriptural basis and are not in tandem with the Holy Spirit. Matthew 10:19-20 tells us that the Holy Spirit will speak through us to others! Wow! What a privilege it is to be a servant of the Most High God--that He would speak His holy words through us! Because He is the truth, we should be very careful to walk in the truth so that we never lead someone down the path of falsehood. Far too many worship leaders are not concerned with the Truth! We must dig into God\'s Word and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal Himself and give us understanding from heaven.

You cannot understand the Bible with mere human reasoning.

"...The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God." (I Corinthians 2:10)

We can\'t go deep without the help of the Helper, our Great Teacher the Holy Spirit of God. 1Cor 2:13 goes on to say "This is what we speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, EXPRESSING SPIRITUAL TRUTHS IN SPIRITUAL WORDS." We have got to get into the business of expressing spiritual truths as worship leaders.

The Holy Spirit as our Power Source

As mere humans, we have no spiritual power. Jesus said in John 3:6,

"Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit."

Nothing spiritual can ever be accomplished on our own power or volition. We are in desperate need of a higher power to give us spiritual power. In Acts 1:8, Jesus once again said to all of His disciples, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you WILL BE my witnesses..."

There are many worship leaders who lead energetically and with great effort, yet there is no display of God\'s mighty power working in lives. To do the works of the Spirit, we must have the Holy Spirit working in us. Then we will do more than just witness with our music, we WILL BE witnesses for Christ with resurrection power flowing from our lives. Anybody can point to Jesus, but only the Holy Spirit can point to Jesus with spiritual power! Many times I have tried to convict people on my own accord to love God and hate sin. Even with a sincere, misguided heart my efforts failed miserably. Why? Because apart from God\'s power I am helpless.

Jesus said concerning the convicting power of the Holy Spirit;

"When He comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment." (John 16:8)

 When we allow the Holy Spirit to move through us as worship leaders, He will convict the lost of sin and lead them to Christ. I have seen many people come to Christ in the middle of a worship set, because the Holy Spirit was moving in power.

How do we know if the Holy Spirit is moving in power in our lives? What are those characteristics?

"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." (Gal. 5:22)

Love can not be manufactured. Joy is not an expression of momentary emotion, it is a heavenly gift of which this earth knows nothing. We all have tried to manufacture the handprints of the Spirit and we have all come up empty. So often I think we exchange true power for cheap, lifeless stimulation. I do not what to stimulate people, I want to see supernatural power consume their very lives! That kind of transformation does not come from reason or market-driven ministry, but from the Holy Spirit of God. The power to heal hearts and bodies, families and the lost is found in the mighty movements of God on High.


Oh Father, Maker of Heaven and Earth, teach us how to walk in Your power through Your Holy Spirit! Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable today, oh Righteous King. Raise up a generation of worshipers for Your glory and honor who run from the dark clouds of self-righteousness and hide within the shadow of Your wings. Help us to lead people to Your freedom and Your liberty through our most loved Savior, the Risen Lamb, Jesus Christ. Sing, speak and lead through us for Your name. Amen.


For three years, Joel Engle traveled all across the country with the Dawson McAllister Student Conference, leading worship for almost a half million students. Joel is experienced in getting students involved with high energy celebration music and leading them in powerful praise.

Visit his site, the Student Praise Interaction Network (SPIN) at www.spin360.com to find more articles by Joel, order his CDs and find his resources for worship leaders and worship teams.


? 2001 SPIN/Joel Engle Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.