Flo Benton from Alaska emailed with an emergency request as she was leading worship for the first time. I thought it would make a good Blog post so our advice is here as well as Flo’s responses.
Flo asked: “Could you share with me how one would typically share at the beginning of leading worship from the keyboard? I’m pretty comfortable with the mechanics of the music, and would like some ideas/suggestions as to what you have done or heard others do or say”
Many people struggle with exactly what and how much to say when they’re leading worship. The first thing to remember is that it’s more about quality than quantity. A few well placed words will do much more to help people to focus on God than the (all too common) second sermon from behind a guitar or keyboard! That said, it can be equally unhelpful when worship leaders fail to give any verbal encouragement or guidance to a congregation. Whilst a lot depends on the particular tradition and ethos of your church most of the ideas below will probably be appropriate at some time or other:
Simple (and short) prayers which may link the songs and focus on a aspect of God’s character
Use of short passages of scripture (best prepared in advance). I find the Psalms and some of Paul’s prayers in the New Testament very helpful.
Brief encouragement to join with others in corporate worship.
Simple, down to earth explanations of what’s going on (especially if it’s unusual or likely to freak people out).
Giving permission for people to engage in worship in a way that’s appropriate for them.
I can’t emphasise enough that all of these should be generally short and the temptation is usually to speak for too long. We must always remember that worship meetings are a time when we hope to encounter the living God and we need to leave space for Him and usher people’s attention away from ourselves. Try to avoid too many benign phrases (like, “We’re just going to sing another song”) which add so little and really don’t need to be said. Be positive in your communication and equally confident in your silence – don’t just talk to cover up a gap. Trust your preparation and ask God to give you wisdom in all that you say.