The title says it all. Here are 10 tips on being a worship leader. Share some of your tips in the comments section below!
1. Read your Bible…a lot.
With the Bible being our authority on the Christian faith, the Bible should not only be the guide for our church’s worship, the Bible should be the content of our worship. This requires an ever growing pursuit and understanding of the Bible. Read a part of the Old Testament, Psalms, Gospel, and New Testament every day. Once you are doing that, set a second time of the day to read a part of the Old Testament, Psalms, Gospel, and New Testament.
2. Pray…a lot.
Just like you should read your Bible often with breadth, so should you pray. Upon reading the passages for the day or for that part of the day, spend some time in prayer. Pray the Lord’s prayer, give thanksgiving and intercession, read prayers from others in the faith, past and present. Learn how to pray so that you might be able to lead your congregation in prayer.
3. Design services that form your congregation
A worship leader must come to embrace the reality that worship forms and shapes their congregation. Once you are able to embrace this, your intentionality and urgency in how you design your services will escalate. Week-in and week-out, this may be the sole Christ-centered formational time that some will have in your congregation. For others who are faithfully participating in Scripture reading, prayer, service, and evangelism, this will be the summit of their week.
4. Design services that invite and encourage your congregation to participate
Your worship services will not form your congregation if they do not participate in the worship service. Therefore, you need to design worship services that invite and encourage your congregation to participate. Not just allow your congregation to participate, i.e., they could have participated. Actively invite and encourage them to participate. And to participate actively, fully, and consciously.
5. Pray with your Senior Pastor and pray for your Senior Pastor
Do you want to have a healthy relationship with your Senior Pastor (or head pastor, head elder, priest, etc.)? Start by praying with and praying for your Senior Pastor. This will turn you and your pastor towards Christ and that which is eternal, not towards your own desires and interests. Praying with one another will invite both of you to take a position of humility and towards the will of the Father. Praying for one another will stir one another’s Christ-like love for the other person that is essential in Church life.
6. Make yourself present off-stage
Worship leaders need to make themselves available to the congregation before and after the worship service. Be hospitable by being visible and listening to those in your congregation. You do not even need to talk, just listen to them. Fostering these relationships is not only the biblical way of church, but your congregation will grow to be more comfortable with your leadership which in turn will be more inviting for them to participate in worship.
7. Look at every face in your congregation
Everyone knows when someone is on-stage and not actually looking at those whom they are leading. As you are leading songs, welcoming the congregation, giving the benediction, or whatever else your worship service may include, look at your congregation. Get to know their faces. If you make eye-contact with a person, do not glance away. Be calm and comfortable, and so will they. Smile in return once in a while. Be welcoming and hospitable from the stage. Keep in mind this practice requires you to look towards everyone, everywhere in the worship space.
8. Practice, practice, practice
As a musician, you should be practicing your instrument and voice at least an hour a day. Worship leading is no exception. Grow in your musical excellence that you might serve well and multiply the gifts that God has given you. You should practice the same hour everyday. Make it a part of your daily rhythm. Buy new books on technique, skills, and theory. Buy music books with new music. Even better, take private lessons from a skilled musician and teacher.
Supplement your daily Bible reading with books on worship. These books could be on the practice of worship leading, leadership in general, a theology of biblical worship, or the history of worship. You will be amazed how these kinds of books will expand your thoughts, questions, and understanding of Christian worship. This will help you grow not only professionally, but personally as well. Even if you read 4 books a year, one every 3 months, you will find your understanding and knowledge of worship and worship leading increase significantly.
10. Meet and talk with other worship leaders
Create a solid network of worship leaders and everyone involved with have much to gain and contribute from such a group. Go out to lunch or coffee and just get to know other worship leaders. You will be able to share stories, both fun and embarrassing, relate with one another, ask questions of one another, and have a good time. As iron sharpens iron, so worship leaders can sharpen worship leaders.
Picture courtesy of Brian A. Peterson, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License.
Jason Palmer is the Administrator of TalkingWorship.com. Jason has a Bachelor of Science in Ministry with a Worship Arts Major and Music Minor. He has lead worship for evangelical churches for 8 years and desires to see worship leaders become confident in their calling.