Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wisdom for Growing Worship Leaders

Here are some guidelines I shared with my team for planning and leading worship at the church where I pastor. A few of the things are specific to our church, most of them are universally applicable to growing worship leaders.

Song Selection

Wise song choices can be found in the following;

Worship chorus standards that the whole Body of Christ has sung; as in Heart of Worship, Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord I Give You My Heart, Here I am to Worship, Shout To The Lord etc.

Hymns that have been really main stream and re-recorded throughout the charismatic worship renewal, such as Holy Holy Holy, Blessed Assurance, How Great Thou Art, O Come Let Us Adore Him, Amazing Grace etc.

Modern worship standards like The Stand, Revelation Song, etc.

Yes you can introduce new songs!

Do whatever song you desire, but consider the following.

Can our band learn and effectively minister the song?
Is it a song that blesses you, or one that accomplishes our mission statement?

Please feel free to choose keys that work with your optimal vocal range; knowing that singers will potentially learn different parts. Just try to consider sing ability for the congregation, and accessibility to the band


Be aware of any occasion on the church calendar that may dictate your songs or flow for the day. This is usually posted on planning center.

Make sure any songs on your list, are entered into Easy Worship, (our rear screen worship software) with the correct lyrics and the correct arrangement. Contact my office and I will make arrangements for them to be entered.

Minister with Confidence

Leading isn’t an act of self-deprecation nor a demonstration of false humility. We know your heart, God knows your heart, but the people need to follow you. Command a presence on the platform that says, “I am the leader!” You are anointed and appointed by God and have been delegated that authority by me. So honor that appointment always. And steward the opportunity with grace!

Balance Your List

If you introduce a new song, you need an anchor song to come back to, so the people aren’t left feeling like they couldn’t connect. Use the sandwich method; something exciting to open, followed by a new song, then wrap it up with a standard.

Work the most on effective transitions. Ask these questions where are we going next? and how can we take the people there in an effective manner musically?

Yes by all means “flow with the Spirit!”

Your ability to flow will be directly proportional to the team’s confidence in how to support you during that time. Give a clear expected chord progression and how to get in and out of that progression if necessary. Feel free to quiet the band and sing acapella. (vocals only)


Avoid the “solo” trap. It isn’t your opportunity to give that needy person the solo they have been dreaming of. Solos are always a fruit indicator. They indicate where our heart really lies, if someone can’t live without a solo, they need a heart adjustment. Don’t bear the burden of those issues, rather, endeavor to lead all in a unified, corporate focused manner.

Honor the clock!

The head and spiritual covering for the service is Pastor Walt, Pastor Ralph, or whoever is present and handling transitions for the service. Hit your marks accordingly. Allow your leadership to give you more latitude if they sense it, but don’t take it without deferring to them. This is dishonoring to God, no matter what your sensing in the Spirit may be at the time. Don’t forget God is sovereign and He will take care of His Church.

Be a great leader on and off the platform

Bathe everything you do in prayer. Pray in preparation privately. Lead in prayer before rehearsal, in the back room.

A leaders greatest asset is to put people at ease. Try not to bring undue tension or frustration into a rehearsal setting or any setting for that matter. Keep things simple and you will be more effective in the long haul.

When your service is done, leave all the mistakes or mishaps behind, don’t carry it off the platform or into the next conversation or rehearsal. The past is over. Learn from it.


Get a cd from the sound person, and listen honestly with critical ears. Were you strong in direction? Did you sing the melody clearly so everyone knew where you were? Did you sing on pitch? What could you do to improve? Was the team overall strong? Please don’t make me critically evaluate you, that never goes well. My best effort to point out areas of improvement usually results in a destroyed ego or a strained relationship. If I really didn’t believe you belonged up there, you wouldn’t be up there. If you really want honest constructive feedback I will endeavor to be gracious. But I have found honest self-evaluation has matured me the most as a musician and worship leader.

I will always endeavor to affirm your leadership, and encourage you in a positive way after you lead worship. The main thing I want to express is gratitude for being used by God, and for helping carry and promote the vision.

If you are like me, every time I lead worship, I learn and grow. It’s a personal journey that I can’t force on anyone else. What God teaches me, He may not necessarily teach you. The main thing is, you allow Him to keep expanding and stretching your understanding of being a worship leader.