Rise Up and Sing: Equipping the Female Worship Leader

Rise Up and Sing: Equipping the Female Worship Leader

by Lex Buckley

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An essential, practical handbook that equips female worshippers to lead worship, work with musicians, pastor a worship team, write songs, and work effectively with their pastor.  For women who are called to lead worship—or think they might be—worship leader Lex Buckley offers this essential handbook. Buckley shares from the Bible and from her heart to encourage, empower, and equip female worship leaders, urging them to be themselves and lead with confidence, secure in the knowledge that there is a role for women to lead worship and pastor a worship team. Packed with practical tips and featuring advice from outstanding female leaders and songwriters, such as Beth Redman, Christy Nockels, and Kathryn Scott, this book fills an empty niche, providing aspiring worship leaders with the female friends and mentors they need and probably don’t have.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781434702180
Publisher: David C Cook
Publication date: 07/01/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 176
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Lex Buckley and husband, Paul, head the worship department at River City Church, Jacksonville, Florida. She has served as a Soul Survivor worship pastor in the UK and released her own CD, Through the Valley.

Read an Excerpt


Equipping the Female Worship Leader


David C. Cook

Copyright © 2010 Lex Buckley
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4347-0218-0


The call to lead

Do you ever look around you and wonder where all the female worship leaders are? I don't know about you, but I predominantly see men leading worship. In many cases this is because women have not been encouraged to step into any church leadership roles. But amidst this reality is one thing that excites me more than anything: Through all the arguments for and against women in leadership roles, we see in the Bible that God does use women to lead His people in worship.

The book of Exodus tells us about the life of Miriam. We don't know too much about Miriam, but we do know she was a prophetess and one of the leaders of Israel alongside her brother Aaron (they both led under the authority of Moses). She was also a worshipper. In Exodus 15:20–21, after God had parted the Red Sea and the Israelites had escaped the Egyptians, it says, "Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron's sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing. Miriam sang to them: 'Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea.'"

The word sing in Hebrew used here is shiru, which is a masculine, plural command. This means that Miriam is addressing men and women in verse 21. The natural reading of the Hebrew is that Miriam leads a group of women who become her backing vocalists (so to speak) as she leads the whole community in worship. Some might question that she actually led them in worship because it says she sang to them.

But throughout the Psalms, we see the psalmists write songs like this, encouraging others to worship God (Psalm 30:4; Psalm 33:1–3). The psalmists wrote songs to God, about God, and to the Israelites encouraging them to worship God, just as many worship songs do today.

Miriam's response to what God had done was to worship Him and then encourage the people of Israel to worship Him with her. At the end of the day, a worship leader is a passionate worshipper who through their voice and instrument encourages others to worship God as they seek to worship Him themselves. And this is what Miriam did. She was a worshipper whom God used to lead His people in worship for His glory.

So now that we know that God does use women to lead worship, the question is whether He is calling you to lead. Here are some general questions you might want to ask yourself to begin the process of finding your answer.

Are you a passionate worshipper?

The most obvious and important question is, do you love to worship God? More than anything a worship leader must be a worshipper. Genuine worshippers are people who are just as passionate about pouring out their praise to God when they are on their own as when they are at church. As Mike Pilavachi, leader of Soul Survivor Ministries in the UK, always says, "You can't lead people somewhere you haven't been yourself." Our first passion must always be to worship God, and it's only out of our passion to worship Him that He will call us to lead others.

Do you have the practical skills required to lead worship?

Another important factor is skill. Can you sing in tune? Are you musical? You don't have to have an incredible voice to lead worship, but if you can't sing in tune, leading sung worship might not be your gift. Not everyone who starts out leading worship has a fantastic voice or is an incredible musician (and not all worship leaders lead on an instrument), but if you're called to lead worship, usually those in leadership over you will see your potential, and it will be clear to them that you are someone to invest in.

Have others confirmed that you are called to lead worship?

If you are called to lead worship, usually those around you will be in agreement. But if leading worship is something that you're passionate about and you have not been encouraged to step out in it yet, ask your pastor, ask your friends, ask those around you who will be honest with you. Make sure you aren't just asking your mother though! Mine thinks I should try out for Australian Idol, and although I am so grateful that she totally believes in me, I know full well that I am not gifted enough to do well in a competition like that! You've got to trust that if you are called to lead worship and it's the right time for you to step out, those around you will encourage you to do so.

Are you being given opportunities to lead worship?

If you are called to lead worship, opportunities will arise for you to do so. I never had to try to push doors open myself—God opened them in His timing. First, I began singing backing vocals at church. Then I led worship in my small group for a season. Later I began coleading at church, and after six months of coleading, I finally began leading on my own. I know it might seem more appealing to just start leading up front at church straightaway, but the journey that God took me on totally prepared me for what was ahead. Leading a band, trying to remember the lyrics, melody, and chords for the songs, and arranging the band are all pretty tough sometimes, especially while trying to listen to the Holy Spirit and follow where He is leading. I would not have been ready to lead on my own at church if I had been thrown into it without all those years of worshipping on my own and leading in small groups. So value every opportunity given to you, because every opportunity enables you to learn and grow.

You may not be able to fully answer all these questions yet, but if you feel passionate about leading worship, keep worshipping God. Keep growing in the practical aspects of leading worship, and trust that He will give you confirmation and will open the doors for you to lead if that is something He has created you to do.


Embracing all that God has created you to be

Being a girl is amazing. It's so much fun! We get to wear makeup and dress up and shop till we drop with the excuse that it's just what girls do. We aren't afraid to cry. I love that God created us to be emotional—to be romantics. The boys may tease us, but God created us to love movies like The Notebook! I love that He made us to be openhearted, to stand with each other as sisters through all seasons of life; that He created us to be nurturing, entrusting many of us with bearing the incredible gifts that children are. I love how our Father in heaven pursues us, longing for us to know that we are His daughters, beautiful and valuable to Him and made in His image to reflect Him. And I love that God has created us to be strong warriors used by Him to bring His kingdom to this earth, united in purpose with the wonderful men He has placed in our lives. I love it.

However, those truths are often hard to hear amongst all that the world and the church have told us over the years. Many of us have been made to feel that who we are and what we bring are not as valuable as who men are and what they bring, that the only role we can play remains in the kitchen and the nursery. We have been told to be quiet, seen but not heard. And if we hear these things or have these boundaries placed around us for long enough, we end up believing these lies and don't step into all that God has for us.

Even now in a culture that is more pro-women, I still feel the effects of those lies spoken for so many years. But it's time to grab hold of the truth, because it's the truth that will set us free to be all that God has created us to be!

Equal but not identical

We read in Genesis 1:27 that "God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." So we see in Genesis that men and women have both been created in the image of God to reflect different aspects of His heart and character. This is a wonderful thing, but because of the oppression that women have been under in the past, and in some places still are, there is a danger that in our fight for equality we have almost tried to disregard our differences. Women want the same job opportunities, the same pay, and the same rights as men. We want equality, and that is totally right. However, being equal to men doesn't mean we are identical to them. We weren't created to be! God created us distinctly different from each other. But where we see men stepping out confidently in their masculinity, we often see women, particularly in leadership positions, hiding aspects of their nature that are uniquely feminine in order to feel that they will be accepted as equal to men.

Genesis 2:25 states, "The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame."

God originally created us to have no shame in the way we were made, both male and female, and I don't think that is just referring to the physical. I believe that before the fall, Adam and Eve were completely free to be themselves in front of each other; they weren't ashamed and they weren't insecure. So we really shouldn't be ashamed of our differences—we need to embrace them.

This is not always easy though. Choosing to believe this truth has been a journey for me. When I first started leading worship, I was surrounded by male worship leaders. Initially I felt a freedom to be myself, but after a while I started to notice the differences in the way I led compared to them. A series of doubts and insecurities started creeping into my mind, and I became worried that the way I led worship was not as good as how the men led, that people preferred it when they led, and that the men didn't like the songs I wrote because they were different from the songs they were writing. Over time I allowed the things that were unique to me to fade into the background in order to fit in, and I stopped fully stepping out in the way God had created me to lead. In reality I just wanted to feel accepted, and I was afraid to fully be myself in fear that men would not think who I am and what I brought as a female worship leader were as valuable.

Proverbs 29:25 says that the fear of others "will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe." Fear robs us of joy and of the security that comes from being a child of God. He is our Father, our helper, and our defender. If we are looking to other people more than to God for affirmation, then we are basically saying, "Lord, I know that You say I am valuable, but I am actually going to search for my value in what other people think." As worship leaders we must worship God alone and find our affirmation in Him alone. This is something that God is constantly challenging me to do. We need to choose to be confident in who God says we are, especially when the enemy speaks lies to us. Satan's desire for us is to stay hidden, whereas God is calling us to step out and fully embrace all that He has created us to be.

Will the real me please stand up!

Without a doubt, I am an extrovert. I love to be with people. I fully realized this a few years ago when my husband, Paul, was away and I spent three days in a row working from home. By the third day I was feeling totally depressed. And then it suddenly dawned on me—I had not seen anyone for three days, which in my world is a lifetime! Honestly, I have no idea how Paul and I came together; he and I are pretty much opposites. He'd love a few days on his own, especially if it gave him an escape from my constant chatting! We have totally different personalities.

All of us have been created differently—from the way we look to the personalities and gifts God has given us. I love to wear makeup, blow-dry my hair straight, and dress up nicely. But half the time you'll find me in sweatpants and a hoodie with no makeup at all. I am a funny mixture of girly and tomboy. I've often looked around and seen other women who were always dressed up and looking gorgeous and felt insecure because I'm just not like them. However, God has been showing me that I am the way I am because it's how He designed me, and that He wants me to embrace who He's made me to be, choosing to find my security in Him alone.

Over the past couple of years God has been showing me that I lead so much better when I am myself. For example, my church recently held a women's conference, and because I was hosting it and there were loads of people coming from different churches, I felt that I needed to dress up a bit to look respectable. So I straightened my hair and put on some makeup, and instead of my usual Converse Chuck Taylors, I wore some high-heel boots. They are the only pair of boots I own, and I love them. However, I'd recently been having trouble with one of my knees, and during that first evening session, my knee began to really hurt. I had never led the main sessions for a conference like that before, so I was quite nervous anyway, but the pain in my knee was making it even harder for me to feel comfortable and be myself. When I got home that night, I realized that as much as I was trying to fit the role of a sophisticated high-heel wearer ... I had to ditch the boots!

The next morning I got up, put on my Chuck Taylors, and made a joke at the beginning of the morning session about how the whole "boots thing" wasn't going to work. I then let everyone else in the room know that they could be free to be themselves, sweatpants and all! Everyone laughed; I relaxed and led that second session much better.

The way God has created me also spills into the way I lead worship. I love to lead out of that place of sensitivity I have as a woman and sing the more intimate songs. However, I also love to totally go for it in worship and shout out God's praise. My voice is a bit husky, so I don't sound like some of the other female worship leaders I know who have such gorgeous, gentle voices. It's just who I am, and God has challenged me to see my differences as a good thing and not to feel insecure because the way I lead and sing is different from the way others lead and sing.

I am also passionate about seeing people healed and set free, and that's why it's something I sing and write about. I've felt silly sometimes and thought that people were probably thinking, Why doesn't this girl just pick a new theme! Enough about healing already! But I have to go for it in this short time I have on earth, to be obedient to what I feel God has called me to and with what He's put on my heart. I've got to be myself!

I had a huge revelation about this when I was in church one day. My husband and I are the worship pastors for River City Church in Jacksonville, Florida, where a couple of years ago my pastor, Antley Fowler, was speaking about worship. He said, "There is something only you can bring to God in worship. There is a part of His heart that only you can touch, because you are His child and you are unique." And that's when it finally hit home. The fact that my Father in heaven loves it when I, Lex, sing to Him and worship Him just blew me away. Knowing that He valued what I brought to Him changed everything for me. It made all the fears and insecurities I had about what everyone else might think fade away. Now, if ever those thoughts of insecurity start creeping back into my mind, I instantly remember that truth, and I feel safe because I know that the King loves me and delights in me.

There are some amazing female worship leaders and singers out there, and it could be easy to look at the way they sing or lead and, in our admiration for them, try to be like them. Yet we have all been created differently, and God will be able to use us more effectively if we are ourselves. Your church doesn't need another version of someone else. Your church needs you and all that you bring as you lead them! What you bring to worship no one else can bring. Your voice, your heart, and your skill bless God in a way that no one else can, because you are unique and He created you for Himself. He longs for you to worship Him, just the way you are.

Pursue healing

All of us come into relationship with God and with each other carrying wounds or past hurts. It may be from an experience at school, from a broken heart, or from a broken home. Somewhere along the way we hit bumps in the road, and we experienced pain, loss, and injustice. These wounds can cause our identities to be shaken, leaving us insecure and carrying the pain that Christ came to free us from. It's our brokenness that can make it really hard for us to be ourselves. But leading worship out of a place of honesty is so important. We can't pretend to be something that we're not, or to be at a place we aren't. I am in no way saying that we should share our deepest fears and past hurts when we lead—of course not! When we lead worship, the last thing we want to do is draw attention to ourselves. But I have found that I lead so much better when I am openhearted and vulnerable before God. Being real with God and one another as we lead enables us to lead freely, and it frees those in the congregation to be real before God too. The masks are taken off, and we are able to engage with God more intimately.


Excerpted from RISE UP & SING by LEX BUCKLEY. Copyright © 2010 Lex Buckley. Excerpted by permission of David C. Cook.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


A word from a pastor,
A note before we start,
1. The call to lead,
2. Embracing all that God has created you to be,
3. The heart of a worship leader,
4. How are you going to lead?,
5. How to prepare for and lead a band practice,
6. Leading a band,
7. Working with your pastor,
8. Songwriting,
9. The worship pastor,
10. Rise up & sing,
Thank you ...,

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Rise Up and Sing: Equipping the Female Worship Leader 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
Practical advice and encouragement to help you Rise Up and Sing! Rise Up and Sing by Lex Buckley is both practical and inspirational - designed to help you discover your call, work with musicians, pastor a worship team, write songs, and work effectively with your fellow worshippers, including your pastor and bandmates. Sharing from the Bible and from her heart, Lex Buckley write to encourage you, empower you, equip you, and provide practical help with all aspects of leading worship. Invaluable advice from worship leaders and songwriters Beth Redman, Christy Nockels, and Kathryn Scott helps this book fill the role of the female mentor you need and probably don't have. Rise Up and Sing will help you lead with confidence, secure in the knowledge that there is a role for women to lead worship and pastor a worship team. My Review: Women are being called to lead worship in larger numbers than ever before, but many may feel ill equipped to do so. Buckley recognizes the unique challenges that women face as they enter positions that have been held primarily by men for many years. She offers practical, down-to-earth advice for women who feel called to lead in this area of church ministry. Drawing from the Bible, her heart, and her own experiences, Buckley begins by defining the many areas of worship ranging from worship leader and musician to worship team pastor and songwriter. She defines each role and discusses the differences that exist between men and women within these positions. She wants women who feel called to serve as worship leaders to be confident in their ability to lead and offers practical suggestions on songwriting, how to work with a worship band, and even ways to recruit members for and pastor a worship team. I received this book compliments of B & B Media Group for my honest review. I would rate this book a 4 out of 5 stars and could see this book being so useful to any woman currently in the church worship or considering entering into one.