What Makes an Authentic Worship Leader (Hint: It’s More than Wearing Skinny Jeans)

July 7, 2017
How can studying Worship Ministry allow students to develop a heart and passion for leading worship (and wearing skinny jeans)? Just ask Keldon Ellis.


Ellis’s journey to becoming a worship leader advanced with a position at Parkside Church. With Ellis as their Worship Director, the experience was like no other. When Ellis leads, he stands front-and-center of the congregation in his favorite pair of dark-wash skinny jeans. With a microphone and his acoustic guitar in hand, everyone watches and waits for him to begin. When he begins playing, everyone joins him, singing to the lyrics displayed on blue and purple screens behind him. He looks out into the crowd of people to see hands raised and eyes closed. He feels a sense of humility that he could lead this group of people in music sung to God.

keldon worship

He realizes that leading worship is far more than playing the right notes and singing the right words. As a worship leader, he helps connect people with God through music.

As a high-schooler, Ellis felt a connection to music. He played guitar in his school’s jazz band and bass on his church’s worship team. Whenever Ellis played, he felt something deeper than a passion for the music. He developed a love for worship – music that connected him to God.

When Ellis was a junior in high school, a student from Crown College joined his church as a worship intern. The intern led his church’s worship team every Sunday. Ellis says he looked up to the Crown student (literally, from his pew) and wondered what it would be like to lead an entire church.

The two became friends and the intern from Crown started to notice how Ellis was naturally drawn to music and worship ministry. He encouraged Ellis to consider studying Worship Ministry when he would choose a university or college. Ellis considered the idea, but other majors all seemed like better choices. He decided to pray about it and the idea of majoring in Worship Ministry sat in the back of his mind.

Ellis started his college search and began touring many different schools. He enjoyed most of them, but decided he wanted to attend a Christian college. On one visit, he toured Crown College.

“I could not shake that there was something special about Crown,” says Ellis. “There was genuineness and authenticity that seemed unique to the Crown community.”

After lots of praying and a few more visits to campus, Ellis decided he would attend Crown to study Worship Arts.

Looking back, Ellis could not be happier with his decision to attend Crown. In 2011, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Worship Arts. He graduated again in 2014 with a Master of Arts in Worship Ministry Leadership.

Later, he took the position of the Director of Worship Ministry at Parkside Church in Waconia, Minnesota. This fall, he will join Crown’s faculty as an Assistant Professor of the college’s newest undergraduate major, Worship Ministry.

Ellis explains how excited he is to introduce Worship Ministry at Crown this fall. The degree is unique from other ministry majors, combining training in musicianship with pastoral, technical, and administrative training.

“Our program is designed to develop students as musicians, as pastors, as organizational leaders and to give them a fundamental understanding of the technical components utilized in many churches today, including audio and visual resources,” says Ellis. “We want to do all this, while also encouraging students to go deeper in their personal worship life with the Lord.”

Leading worship in the church requires a high level of musicianship. As Worship Ministry majors, students will work to attain an understanding of musical theory and vocal or instrumental performance. A major in Worship Ministry will also expose students to musical training, while providing them with opportunities to grow as ministry leaders.

“As a Worship Arts student, I was able to witness God move through our times of corporate worship during chapels on campus. I saw His creative beauty as I studied Music Theory in the classroom. I experienced His love and grace through the relationships I formed while in the program,” says Ellis.

Ellis hopes to extend all the same opportunities to his students this fall.

When Ellis is on stage leading worship, he knows that is where he belongs. He looks out into the crowd of people singing, with their hands raised and eyes closed, and he feels grateful and confident that he can lead.

At Crown this fall, he hopes to equip more students as leaders that have a passion for worship and a love for people (and maybe skinny jeans, too).

To learn more about Crown’s new Worship Ministry major, visit here or call 1-952-446-4100.