About Worship Leader Life
Worship Leader Life
Hi! My name is Stephen Toon. Worship Leader Life is a hub for resources, writings, interviews and more, that I’ve either created or curated. At worshipleaderlife.com, you’ll find my blog, access to our podcast, and various resources to help you in your life as a worship leader.
Are you looking for some direction, help or coaching in the area of Worship and Music Leadership? Are you hungry for a Mentor? Someone to bounce ideas off of, or even get some ideas from?
For years I felt rather alone as a worship leader. Early on I had some amazing mentors and coaches in the area of pastoral ministry and music, but I didn’t have anyone who was clearly called and directed to be a Worship Leader through music, at least as their primary calling. Over time I met and connected with a few, but in those first 10 or so years I never really felt I had a Worship-Leader mentor.
Many leaders choose to lead music as a side thing or they are forced to as no one else will do it. I bless and pray for these amazing servants, and I think we need all the support and service we can get when it comes to church, leadership, liturgy and connecting with God. But as someone who got that absolutely clear message from the Lord that I need to be using music to lead others into His presence, and more importantly, using music as a primary way to connect with God in my own life, I knew I wasn’t going to get the full perspective from someone who wasn’t called to the same thing specifically.
For years I prayed, “Lord, please send me a Brian Doerksen or a Martin Smith to learn from!” Then, as I smartened/wised up, I prayed, “Lord please send me an older, wiser, more seasoned worship leader who gets it, even if they aren’t famous! I want someone whose primary way to connect with You is music. Someone who knows that this isn’t the only way to worship, but that it’s our way to both worship You and to serve your Church.”
I would say it was about 7-8 years or more of praying this. Somewhere along the way I sensed that the Lord wanted me to let go of this obsession with being mentored by someone, because He wanted to mentor me Himself. In fact, He caused me to die to the idea of finding the key to Christian Life in my vocation or calling. That’s kind of another story, but it should be said that my personal experience is that the Lord wants to see us grounded in Him, discipled by Him (by His Spirit, His word and through His saints), and along the way He will develop Your calling and vocation.
I should also mention here that I’m not talking about Worship Leading as a job, like a paid position or career path. I have been a paid pastor on staff at a number of churches, with a focus on Worship and Music, but whether or not I’m working for a local church, I know in my core that I have been called and trained to be a worship leader through music. Again, to grow into our calling means we take care and patience in letting the Lord disciple us and give us a foundation as His beloved, as His child.
Once I acknowledged that this is what the Lord had been doing all along, He finally did bring me a mentor in the form of an older and more experienced man who is also called to Worship Leading! That’s another story that I can save for another day, but the first thing I noticed was that most of what this mentor would help me with was not related to music at all. He taught me about Soul Care, Health, Parenting (especially Fathering), Responsibility, Faithfulness, Fun, Taking Risks, and much more. Of course we talked shop: music, theology, practical tools and practices for pastoral ministry, songs, songwriting…but all of that was the natural expression and overflow of our relationship.
The relationship of Mentor to Disciple is unique. Sometimes you are like equals, friends on the journey. Other times you come under the mentor’s direction and accountability. Sometimes they are like a counsellor or a Spiritual Director, and often they are like a Big Brother or Sister, or a Father or Mother.
I should also mention here, I have had Spiritual Directors and Coaches along the way as well. Often these are professionals that I have paid per session or by the month. One way or another, Mentors and Disciples work together and are mutually beneficial for each other. There’s no one right way to do it, but I can think of a number of wrong ways. The relationship is not about co-dependence or protection, ego boosting or career boosting. One must enter into a relationship like this with humility, wisdom and a clear sense of self and calling. Hopefully, if these are things that you need help with, a good mentor can point that out and promote maturity and growth in you.
Here’s how I see it in a little nutshell, for the purposes of Worship Leader Life: Mentor=a friend on the journey who has more experience in a given area that they are willing to pass on to others. Disciple=Someone who is in a spot where they’d benefit from the Mentor’s years and expertise. Over time, the relationship changes as the Disciple gets their own experience, and it’s important to note that the Mentor/Disciple relationship is a fluid dance, not a hierarchical system.
If you’re thinking of taking advantage of what Worship Leader Life has to offer, you’ll want to make sure you are ready. Instead of focusing on what WLL is NOT, I prefer to focus on what (or who!) we are. However, it is fitting to quickly mention a few “NOTS” for clarity sake.
We are not a forum for fighting or debating on theological issues or even issues regarding church cultural practice or doctrine. Here’s what I say to that: who cares! Haha. I mean, I get it. I know you care about what you believe in. But the main thing to remember here is that God is big enough for all of your ideas, preferences, beliefs and even your quirks. Here’s one way to look at it: when you were a child or even a teenager, did you have the same theology, practice and doctrinal beliefs that you have today? I’m guessing most of you didn’t. And if you did, then I’d love to get to know you better and find out more of your journey! The point I’m trying to make is that we don’t need to squabble over communion practice,(pre sermon, post sermon, intinction or bread and cup…or elements versus emblems, sacrament vs ordinance), worship style or tradition (long music sets vs a short one, Vineyard vs Baptist, Old songs vs New ones). We are here to support each other as we do our work serving our congregations in worship and music.
Who We Endeavour and Aspire to Be
in the Worship Leader Life Community
First, connecting with our Lord and Creator is always at the top spot on your priority list. It’s your raison d'être.
Can there be enough information and aid in an area that deserves so much of our attention? There's always more. Still, a lot of what I want to share is culled from years of reading and learning things that you might have read or heard already, practices and tips from other leaders – reading their books, attending their seminars, picking their brains. But guess what? We all remember different things and take hold of certain truths and practices that others might miss completely. There is also the fact that we all serve the same Father, Son and Holy Spirit, so I bet we’re not that far off in our theology, practice and philosophy! What’s different is, me. You. The next person. Community learning is beautiful, especially when we gain insight from others that we never would’ve discovered, had we not entered into the discussion with them.
Plus, and here’s one of the best parts, I want this site/blog/etc to be focused on YOU, the leader who is hungry for more help and direction, more growth and understanding in leading others in worship through music.
Worship Leader Life is for:
- local worship leaders in smaller churches or smaller towns who have no one nearby that they can learn from, bounce ideas of off, be accountable to, or simply get some Spiritual Direction from
- worship leaders who need a fresh perspective on leading. Lost the fire? Lost touch with your initial call to be a worshiper? Come and find some focus and rest!
- Beginners who want to learn more of what is all encompassed in leadership and worship
- Pastors or other leaders (Board members, elders etc) who need some direction and help in developing a Worship Ministry, even without a Worship Pastor or Music/Service Director. Think of Worship Leader Life as your part-time Worship Pastor, providing coaching and consult as you move forward as a church.
- Worshipers, plain and simple! Here’s a little secret, Leaders are people, and just like every other person, their first and foremost priority is to cultivate a life of worship. How does that translate to daily life? And how does that fit with Sunday mornings? Let’s help you find that out.
How do you get this?
It's simple. Join Worship Leader Life.
Right now we have a waiting list and we would LOVE to get you on it so we can keep you updated. The doors to WLL Membership will be opening soon, and we will let you know as soon as that happens.
I'm a husband to Lisa, we've been married almost 18 years. We have 4 boys aged 10, 9, 7 and 5. The Okanagan in beautiful British Columbia is our home, but we've moved around a bit over the years. Vancouver, Surrey, and Prince George were all cities we lived and served as I was a Pastor with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, also serving with Vancouver South Vineyard Church and Pacific Life Bible College. I have been leading worship since my teen years, have an undergrad in Church Music from Ambrose University (Calgary, formerly Canadian Bible College in Regina, SK) and have been writing, performing and recording music for years. While teaching at Pacific Life Bible College in Surrey, BC, and while pastoring, I had the privilege of mentoring a number of my students as they developed in worship leading. There's not much that I love more than seeing people becoming who they were meant to be. I hope I can help you in that as we journey together!