How To Lead Worship | Top 10 Pieces of Advice For New Worship Leaders

Following on from today's worship blog post about mentoring I thought it would be good to pool our knowledge and help new worship leaders out.

What 10 (or less) pieces of advice would you give to someone who is just about to start leading worship for the first time, or someone who has only been doing it for a few months or so?

Share your quotes, thoughts and wisdom below and I will then compile them into a blog - similar to what we did with the "101 Worship Leader Myths".


N.B. I've now compiled and published this list on the WTR blog: How To Lead Worship | 101 Tips For New Worship Leaders

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1. Don't talk down to or disrespect your team members. If you think you have more talent or you are just smarter, keep it to yourself and humble yourself. That means, respect those who serve with you and don't imply things or try to make creative decisions for your team members where they are not wanted. For example, the bassist, misses a lick during rehearsal. You stop the band, have a little discussion in front of the whole team about how the lick should go. Then, the next time when the member misses it again, you stomp your feet at them to try to get them to play it right. Or for drummers, you start snapping your fingers or stomping to get things to speed up or slow down. You might express that you want it played differently, but approach it in a friendly manner and maybe in private, not a "how could you screw that up" manner.

2. Respect your elders. If you just started and you are replacing a worship leader or just filling in, don't cut down the song selections that the previous leader made. Just because the song isn't new and cool or is overplayed now, don't bash your former leader. It just shows how immature you are.
Never neglect the pastoral part of being a leader in the church. Meaning: make your team a true spiritual unity by committing to really get to know them and spend time with them completely unrelated to music. The most succeessful team i built was so good in large part to the small group we all had twice a month at my house. That was 5+ years ago, we are at different churches but still my best friends are from that team! I've had far "better" talent individually, but never achieved that level of unity, comraderie and "team-excellence" thereby.
Be honest and do not give any room for questionable activity - in other words integrity in your ministry. I don't mind stepping on toes here but I'm not in the mood. Let the Lord guide you. For me it would be not to download copyright material from Limewire without the writer's permission. I'm convicted of robbing my brother - songwriters need to pay the bills too. Need to build a ministry on a firm foundation.
Here are some tips... more to come...
1. When picking songs, go through the entire repertoire list before finalizing a worship set for the gathering. Ensuring that the whole list is viewed each week as songs are chosen will help protect the worship leader from himself! It will help him to not fall into only picking the smaller set of songs he likes best. It will help him to remember that there is a larger corpus of songs that the gathered people love to sing, even if some of those songs are old to the worship leader.
2. Always remember that the congregation will love a song loooooooong past when the worship team is sick of that song. By the time the team introduces a song for the first time, they will have heard the song on a CD, liked it and listened to it 100 times. They will have practiced it together another 100 times. Then they will be sick of it. Then they will introduce it to the congregation for the first time. And the congregation will only get to sing it once every 4 weeks or so. That is only 12 times per year. So the team has heard it 212 times by the end of the year, and the congregation only 12 times. Don't put that song away yet, leader!
3. The responsibility of worship leading is a pastoral responsibility much more than it is a musical responsibility. Worship leading is not about playing music primarily. It is about fulfilling the role of shepherding a group of people into the presence of the Lord together. The role of the worship leader is to seek to build a platform upon which the people gathered can stand and more easily connect with God. It is a serving responsibility. It is the high calling of standing beneath everyone else in order to lift them up. So the worship leader is not on the platform to serve his personal worship preferences, or to lead himself into worship. As much as it is important for him to worship while he is at the front, it is just as vital that he consider the worship needs of the people gathered before him. What will create the best platform for them to be captivated by God and connect with him (whether those choices fit with the worship leader’s personal preferences of worship music and style or not)? Leading worship is for the sake of facilitating the worship of the people gathered and not about the worship leader.
4. A worship leader must have a good rapport with the gathered people as well. There must be a sense of connection going in both directions. The worship leader must not get so lost in his personal worship on the stage that he forgets what is happening ‘out there.’ And the gathered people must feel like they can relate to this person on the stage. In many cases, the worship leader is a new person’s first connection with any kind of leadership at the church. The worship leader’s voice and actions and posture affect how they are able to receive the rest of the church’s ministry to them, and their decision to remain with this group or not. And so during the experimental, probationary stage of a worship leader’s ministry, there must be a noticed (by leadership) positive response from the gathering to the worship leader’s leading. Chemistry between the leader and those being led is important.
Okay, another one...
5. The worship leader must be at rest in his own spirit with the Lord. There must be a growing sense of the pleasure God feels toward him. What happens when this is not present is a striving and a struggling to make something happen by kicking up the volume or increasing the speed or repeating more than necessary, or some other humanly induced means to try to get the gathered people where they ‘should’ be.

A worship leader at rest in his spirit with the Lord and the Lord’s view of him will simply enter into the worship experience week by week without overly evaluating the results, without feeling like worship didn’t happen if there was a low-key response on the part of the group. Worship is a process in the lives of people. There are ebbs and flows in this process. And a worship leader at rest in his spirit will never try to work up something that isn’t there.

Besides, inevitably when the worship leader thinks he has just had the worst worship experience to date, that will be the day when the most people will speak to him and tell him how wonderful their worship experience was that day. So be warned, worship leaders! Come to a place of rest in your spirit with God. Receive his acceptance and love and pleasure that is already yours because you are a son (or a daughter). This will go a long way in keeping you from ever trying to manipulate a worship event in any way.


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