It has been said that if you fail to prepare then you prepare to fail. How much time and effort do you put into preparing for leading worship? Do you spend a long time choosing songs, practicing them and working out the order? Do you pray about all these things too?

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I've not rushed to answer this as I've tried to work out how much time I spend. Working backwards from the service:-
- Arrive at the meeting place about an hour or so before the service is due to start.
- If we have a band we'll probably have a two to two and a half hour rehearsal the day before.
- If we just have guitar and vocals probably a one to one and a half hour practice.
- Now to the stuff I think you're really asking about, and this is where it gets harder to work out. I would probably have set aside an hour or two to sit down with the song books and my guitar, but, I will have been thinking and praying about the service for some days before hand and may have a key song or verse that seems to be the starting point for planning. Very occasionally I've just known exactly what we need to do a fortnight before, more often I graft away trying to work out what songs we should sing.

So preparation can take a very short time or a very long time. Very occasionally you have no time. I remember a time when the booked worship leader was unable to make it at the last moment so I stepped in with no preparation, just me and the acoustic guitar. This is a scenario I'm well used to in the small meeting context but not when there's nearly two hundred people there. The thing is God showed up! God is gracious!.
It is always important to pray & seek God in choosing songs for worship-leading. After all, it's God's church & God's people we're leading; it's not for ourselves. God never fails to amaze me by showing me how the songs He gave were in line with the preacher's message.

Practice is necessary. Even if there seems to be short of time, practising transitions would be good. Most importantly, the band must come with a right attitude so that God can work through all the instruments.
I also find that practicing transitions between songs is important. It really helps the songs 'flow' and helps to remove distractions.
That's a really helpful comment. I think I need to give more attention to this myself. Sometimes I'll practice the songs in one order and then use them in another and find that I can't move from one to another as freely as I would like.
Hi Colin - that's an interesting approach. I've heard of people having back-up songs, but I like the idea of just having a fairly large list and then going with the flow of the Spirit.
I'm always on the lookout for song combinations to use in worship. And ideas for this can come anytime. So in one sense you can say that I am always preparing.

I also stretch my mind with various 'what-if' questions. What if I have to lead worship without a guitar? Or piano? What if I totally don't know the people there and I have only 20 mins to prepare? What if the people I have to lead worship for don't know ANY of the songs I want to use? All these keep me on my toes and keep me in the flow for leading worship. I guess you can call that preparation time too.

I don't spend as much time practising as I'd like. My current practice is worshiping God with the songs I'd like to work on. That's how I work out song orders and transitions too.

Song order and transitions, by the way, are very important to me. I believe that the impact in leading worship comes from ordering the songs right and making them flow into each other. That way you get a synergistic effect from the songs, rather than a piecemeal result that works only for placing tracks nicely on the 'worship' album...

I do that worship/practice/ordering in front of my kids, so that kinda doubles as time with kids, teaching them about God, practice and as part of my personal devotions. I use the guitar for that, and I'm decently competent with it, so I don't need that much time for practice. I play keyboards for church, and that doesn't need that much skill (you just need enough RAM space in your mind to type in English and pat a baby to sleep, how difficult can that be?) so I don't practice much for that either.

Of course I'd rather practice more, but that's just for my personal growth as a musician. Playing for worship? I've got it covered... :)

Praying? I spend lots of time in generic prayer, since God seems to be the only one who can put up with me all day. I don't really pray much about worship preparation, because I personally believe that koinona with the Holy Spirit means that I am in partnership with him, and therefore he respects my input too. Then again, there were many times when I thought I came up with a song set by myself and later found out that it was in line with what speaker had in mind. Just like what Cheryl described. :)

disclaimer: Your mileage may vary...



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