What advice would you offer a first-time worship leader?
Advice for worship leaders: a crowd-sourced list
We asked the question “What advice would you offer a first-time worship leader?” and were amazed by the number of helpful (and funny) responses. So we’ve compiled this crowd-sourced list:
Be as practically prepared as you can be – music in order, chords etc sent to band in advance, touch base with visuals/projection team then you don’t need to worry about any of that and can concentrate on the spirit during the service knowing you’ve prepared everything else prior
Choose songs that you know really well and are confident that you and musicians know. Don’t feel pressured to singing new songs, keep it simple and give yourself time to prepare and pray.
Do choose songs you are really comfortable with. It helps if the church know them too. Pick keys that enable most of the congregation to take part. Rehearse your band and give a clear guide so they know what to expect. Then relax. You’ve done everything you can. Now rely on God to do the rest
Practice and be prepared so you aren’t thinking about the mechanics of the songs so you can be spirit led.
Get there early for sound-check
Check your heart
Read Keith and Kristyn Getty’s book, “Sing.” It gives such great perspective and guidance about why we sing and shines light on the power of singing as a congregation. Our worship team went through the book together and it really helped open our hearts and eyes to the eternal and current impact of worship.
Pray, don’t forget to make time for your own worship, be prepared for the post service crash!
Don’t be afraid to transpose the key to something you can play.
Pray before planning, pray before and during practice with team,pray before service. Commit it all to God and ask to be filled with the spirit.
Be prepared the greatest challenges are going to come your way.
Prepare yourself for God to work on your character.
On the day
Don’t just sing, worship yourself too.
Above all, fix your eyes, and your heart, on Jesus.
Worship to an audience of one.
I stuck an L plate on my music stand. It made people laugh, and broke the ice.
After the worship time, the meeting leader came up and ripped the L plate off :) I put a P plate up next time.
Relax, it will get better!
Dealing with nerves
If seeing everyone’s faces makes you feel nervous look at the back of the room – not down at your music stand
Focus on God and not the crowd. Be sure to lead them well when you have a new song or the music changes.
Leading the team
Make sure you all work as a team, so you can rely on and trust your musicians/tech in any given situation
Make sure that your team is more than just a random group of people that get together on a Sunday. Build a team of people that know each other, pray with/for each other, care for the people in the congregation. Being genuine goes a long way.
Start and end your practice sessions with group prayer with the worship team. It will make all the difference and His Presence will fall. Remember it’s all about annointing not just ability :)
Make sure your tech team is included in everything you do. They are just as important and vital as those on stage.
Make sure you communicate to all in the worship team and the pastor never be afraid of examining what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong be honest about those things always looking to improve
Assert your leadership where it allows the comfort of suggestion and creativity from the worship team but not to where the team has the freedom to lead you. It is a TEAM and in part we are each a leader but there should be a respect for authority for the worship leader.
Serve with a strong, well-communicated, deliberate goal in mind for practices and on Sundays, but with an encouraging spirit. Lead vocalists and lead guitarists, for example, tend to have strong personalities, so you have to be much stronger and confident in the chosen songsets, practice routines, prayer routines, and expectations for operating during practice times and on Sunday mornings. Be focused and strong, but also be observant, and be flexible when you can be — transpose songs so the key is in the middle of the range of your lead vocalists, which allows them room for maneuver in their phrasing creativity.
Keep the integrity and harmony of your team by never talking negatively about another member (gossip). It will erode your trust as a leader. It should be a no brainer for Christ’s followers. However as people make mistakes it gets easier to criticize them. Always focus on the positive.
The congregation and the pastor
Know who you’re leading…know the people.
Congregations tend to have their own speed. You’re there to lead them for sure, but they also have a majority vote for how fast they’ll get the words out!! Keep your faster tempos to a good speed and don’t let the congregation drag you slower but if it feels like they’re lagging/struggling with lyrics, slow up just a little. Listen to the Holy Spirit
Respect, love, and pray for your pastor. God has called them to lead the church, and it is a joy to be in service together, watching God at work.
Love your people- the people you serve with (tech team, musicians, etc) and the people who fill the pews each week. Recognize that many of them are going through painful seasons and need authenticity from us as we come together in worship; we need to be honest that life is hard but God is faithful. And remember leading worship is not a performance- it is a privilege of going before the Throne of God together as a family.
Get to know what “language” (music styles) your Church communicates in worship. Leading a congregation will never be about your musical preferences. You need to learn how your people communicate to God through music. If they don’t feel comfortable singing they won’t connect through worship.
It’s not about you…it’s about Jesus. Don’t be a distraction. Anything specific you wanted input on or just seeing what will come out?
It is not about us……..so pressure off to some extent. Practice with the band, arrive early and don’t be rushed. Listen to congregational feedback with wisdom. Be ready so that you can relax and enjoy the worship and allow Him to direct you.
Worship leading isn’t just about the music. Agree with preparation – plan for the transitions. And remember to remind the congregation to stand / sit when it’s time. That was probably the most useful piece of practical advice I received! Also, have a plan for the start – if you’re not getting straight into the music, people may not settle straight away and keep chatting a bit. So think about how to introduce the service and give people time to settle down. Otherwise it can be unsettling to try and read your opening scripture over people still chatting!
Don’t try to copy others. Be yourself and the Spirit will honour you.
Be honest. People can see a fake person up the front in a heartbeat.
Model what you want to see And never, ever take yourself too seriously!
It should never be a concert
It’s never about you it’s only about the Lord!
Assuming you are called, not just talented, always remember that calling when things get tough. Keep going back to that moment. Remember that God provides.
Worship in spirit and in truth.
Develop your worship personally first.
Sensitivity to God first, and to others, and the sounds.
Don’t bring anything you haven’t/wouldn’t bring/sing in worship at home.
Genuine is what He’s looking for.
You’re there to facilitate others in worship, encourage,empower them.
Lifestyle, let your life be changes by Him.
Worship from the heart.
Be yourself, conformed to Christ.
Be willing to and take action to practice/skill.
Pray, pray, pray.
Focus on Jesus.
You’re a target. Don’t take anything personally.
when you’ve finished the set and sit down, don’t criticize yourself. Offer what you just did to God as an act of worship. Remind yourself of that every time.
Community is EVERYTHING. Build each other up, and be honest with your team. And whatever you do, spend time with the congregation! They’re the ones you’re leading into praise and worship. Don’t take every suggestion, but hear them with grace. The congregation doesn’t know how many requests you’ll get on every given Sunday, and it isn’t their intention to bother you about it.
Don’t give up!!!!!!
Do it afraid!!! But trust in His anointing
If you are called to this, God will equip you in more ways than you can imagine. So be open to His lead in song picking/ choosing. All the comments above are all true. Worship leading is facilitating the congregation for the church to Worship God as one…united in one focus…worshipping God to reach/ touch His heart. May you be blessed as you lead worship.
May all you do point people to Jesus and keep them there. Know it’s a tough journey and calling …but God’s presence and voice is one you should try to personally seek and dwell in your whole week to prepare you for Sunday. Find someone to share with and journey with and hold you in prayer when you’re preparing & leading…worship is a battle. The enemy will do his best to distract and disarm.
Run, run away now!
What have we missed?
What have you found helpful as a worship leader?
What advice do you offer newbie leaders?
You can add to the original conversation over in our Facebook Group (you’ll need to apply to join first – it’s free).