When you lead worship or play in a worship team do you tend to close your eyes or leave them open? I have heard arguments for both but would be interested what you find most helpful...

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Yes when I lead worship I lead with my eyes closed...especially the more the Spirit takes control...and leads through me...Usually when we start the service my eyes are open however as we approach the throne...my eyes close....
Me, eyes closed mostly ...... But i believe as worship leaders it should be the other way around.

There are a lot of things associated with worship. We are a team, we need eye contact with our team members and with the congregation. We need to know what is going on, and be sensitive to the situation.

Another thing is, when the eyes are closed you can be your own, and let yourself free. It also helps when you are new and are working on your confidence.

Having said that, I believe worship leading is different that worshiping. A worship leader should be done worshiping in preparation for the service and be ready to lead worship. A shepherd cannot lead with his eyes closed. Sheep can follow with eyes closed. Yes there are times in corporate worship when you as a worship leader have to worship as well, but the point is, the first few songs or for the first half of the songs make sure your eyes are open and you communicate the words of the song to the people. Living in the country that i live in, my congregation always comes in with different levels of stress, strain, pain and issues. They may not be as prepared to worship as I am, so i have to usher them in, lead them to the throne.

Cannot do that with eyes closed.
Vinod, thanks, that's what I was trying to say above.

Being a worship leader doesn't mean you have to be the best worshipper in the building and yes we do sing for an audience of one, hopefully we are not a voice of one as we do it. We don't have to be best voice or have the best leadership skills, or even the most annointed , What we have to have is a calling to LEAD others in a worship journey that goes straight to the Throne Room of God. We have to understand that calling and have a God given vision for worship in your Body of Believers.
Blessings
It's really funny to me - well, actually not funny at all if I can be honest - that so many of us are adding to this topic without adding to the whole conversation.
Uh-oh, here I go. Onto the soapbox ...
If a really good conversation is like a game of tennis - with a volley involved - this feels like 60 separate tennis matches. Phil served it up (great Q Phil), but so many of us are just answering his original question without regard to any of the convos from page 2 to page 7 ...
I don't know why this bothers me today - maybe because it feels more like a poll instead of a discussion? Maybe it is technically impossible to have a discussion with more than 20 people (don't they say that about Bible studies and small groups?).
I dunno ... I am here at WTR to connect and learn, but the polling-place answers feel disconnected and ... arrogant. Like ... pick me, pick me, I have the answer! There, I said it. Don't throw stones. :D
BTW, I had nobody in particular in mind when I posted my previous comment. Particularly, Weldon, just b/c you are right before me doesn't mean I was pointing at you!!
Wanted to clarify that.
Hi Tricia,thanks for not pointing me out, but as I had already admitted I hadn't read all the middle pages, so I went back and did read them all (yeah). And I realized that I came off a little heavy handed, like it had to be my way, sorry. I know that there are many wonderful worship leaders on this site and if it works for them, God bless them mightily. I am truly passionate about leadership not only in the church but at my job also. By the way I do lead with my eyes open most of the time but try to limit eye contact, and I do close my eyes tight sometimes to get the tears cleared so we can continue,especially when witnessing God move amongst His people. Nothing better.
I do a little of both.

One of the main reasons I keep them open often however is that I keep an eye on my pastor or a particular elder (we have an elder prayer after worship on Sundays). There have been a few occasions where my pastor has really felt led to come up and encourage the body in the midst of our worship time (not often, but when he does, he's been completely right!) Those few times, I've had my eyes closed or focused intently somewhere else and the opportunity may be missed. So, I don't know.. it think we should have the freedom to also be joining with the body in worship, however, we have certain roles, responsibilities, etc.

One other thing I saw in a few replies here was making eye contact with people. I do this purposely on Sundays as often as I can. I will often times quickly look across the congregation and will give a smile to one person, maybe a nod to another, or I make a mental note of some new people and make an effort to welcome them to our church later on after service.

I find my eyes close more when I'm really really passionate about the lyrics I'm singing and really expressing myself or my heart before the Lord and the congregation. Another occasion would be if I have us repeat a chorus with almost no instrumentation and just our voices. Having the entire room singing together in unison with just voice is very moving sometimes.

Either way, as long as we are doing what we do to give God the glory, I don't really feel that God has a preference. ;-)

May the music we play/sing be a sweet sound in His ear.
I really like what Brian had to say here. Your eyes being closed when you are singing a phrase or a lyric that you are passionate about is very natural...There are a lot of mixed feelings about this whole question...and I have learned a lot from all of your perspectives...but for me it all comes down to this...
God knows when I am performing...and God knows when I am leading worship...and whether my eyes are opened or closed...if I am in the wrong frame of heart (performing) well...those of you who are leaders...you know what I am getting at...

I pray for all of us...as we lead the congregations that God has entrusted us with...that we worship Him in Spirit and in Truth...

Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty...Who was and is and is to come ~ Kari Jobe
I attended a conference last year and the main speaker warned us to not get too caught up in the worship that we forget about the congregation. So I gave that some thought and decided I agreed...then disagreed...then agreed...then disagreed. You get the point...so I try to make sure I'm at least aware they are out there and I know what song is next and what tempo, and I make sure if the Holy Spirit is leading me to do something different or stay on a chorus etc., I'm listening. But most importantly I'm worshiping with the congregation. In fact I've shared it with them before....I'll be singing and praising and open my eyes and realize I'm facing towards the left side of the church instead of the middle. On our team we consider ourselves lead worshippers not worship leaders. Fine line of distinction but it works for us.
Mostly eyes open for several reasons: 1) it is impossible to memorize every song we use in worship - we use music and charts; 2) I agree with the comment that we need to be observing and connecting with the congregation during worship; 3) the worship team watches me for signals, and I observe them, as well; 4) in a particularly deep passage of spontaneous worship, typically at the end of a song or during the transition between songs, I'll close my eyes briefly. The leader needs to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading - not just in him/herself, but also in the atmosphere of congregation - where is God taking us at the moment? You have to observe and sense what is happening. A most blessed 2010 for y'all!
when I'm leading worship in a service, i usually close my eyes because its my way of leading the congregation to feel God's presence..but sometimes I open my eyes to see whats happening,,and when i see people who is just watching I encourage them to respect God's presence by looking unto them full of love that comes from God..especially those new comers..who doesn't understand yet what is really meant in worshiping the Lord...
I lead worship for kids at my camp and closing my eyes is not always a very practical thing to do. Sometimes I close my eyes so I don't see some of the stuff they are doing.

When I do close my eyes during a song, it is to help me focus more intently, or to keep me from crying cause the power of the song simply overwhelms me. I don't see a problem either way.

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