leading praise and worshipLeading praise and worship usually requires a play list is the list of songs that you work off on any given morning. It is different for every church, and every worship leader, and it is acceptable to have your own style when it comes to worship. So, while I recognize that my opinion is not necessarily gospel, here’s some suggestions based on my experience leading worship. Feel free to agree, disagree, throw tomatoes or ignore my advice, but ask the Lord to show you the way He wants to see the service run.

Leading Praise and Worship in an Orderly Way…

a. Decide how long your worship is to run: Obviously, this will have a major bearing on the number of songs that you can choose. So, it is quite useless to select 15 songs for a 15 minute worship time. Consult the pastor as to how long he wants you to be, and then STICK TO YOUR TIME! In general, charismatic churches will sing for longer, say 30-40 minutes, while some churches may only sing for 15-20 minutes (for example, if the entire service is one hour or less in length).

For the record, when leading praise and worship I generally budget on 5 minutes per song, and then my times are pretty close.

b. Avoid breaking up the songs with other items: The way you structure the worship service indicates your attitude to worship. If you consider worship to be simply singing, then by all means break it up with whatever you want. Sing a song, have a welcome. Sing a song, have announcements. Sing a song, have an item. Sing a song, have a missionary spot. Sing a song, have an offering. Sing a song, have communion, etc. etc.

Obviously with this set up, there is zero chance of you relaxing and pressing into worship, because you never do it long enough without a distraction.

So, my suggestion is put all the extraneous stuff in one spot. Why not start with a couple of songs, then break for all the announcements, items, offerings, etc., all on the one break and follow that up with a good, solid 3 or 4 songs of worship. Then the people have a great chance to enter into the presence of God.

1. Praise: Most often I will do 1-3 praise songs. These tend to be lively, up tempo, rocky songs designed to be fun, full on expressions of love towards the Lord. They also help people to leave behind the cares of getting to church, the screaming kids, the cranky spouse, the overnight football scores or the mortgage payments, and focus their attention on the Lord. Most people cannot dive straight in and worship the Lord intimately, so these songs give them a chance to just relax, enjoy and, hopefully, praise God with real joy and gusto.

leading praise and worshipNow, if your church is a screaming, chandelier swinging, Holy Ghost Revival Pentecostal church, full of deaf young rockers who love loud, screaming music, you may want to do a lot more loud praise songs. Then again, your church could be quiet, stayed and full of over 80 year olds, in which case you may want to do one moderate song and move straight into worship. Sound out your pastor; think about it, and above all, PRAY ABOUT WHICH SONGS GOD WANTS YOU TO DO!

I am definitely against formulas in worship (3 fast, 2 slow, etc.), and we humans are really good at providing the formula for success, often at the expense of whatever the Lord is doing. Do not be frightened to completely dispense with the fast, boppy section, and move straight into the next section.

2. Worship: My favourite part of worship is the deep stuff, the quiet stuff, the times of intimacy with God. And as the song says, let’s get back to the heart of worship: it’s all about You, Jesus! Concerning worship I would make the following suggestions:

a) It doesn’t have to be soft: It may be quiet and intimate, or a power ballad! Sometimes you can build to a crescendo, while at other times you can be gentle and intimate. For suggestions of how to do this, see the chapters on style and modulation. Think about the flow of the Spirit, feel it and follow the leading of the Spirit. That way you will truly have an anointed worship time.

b) Let the songs progress: Personal song: starting with personal songs (those which use the pronouns I, me) and leading to songs that focus solely on the Lord. Songs with I/Me in them are not only personal but allow the people to respond to the Lord and open their hearts to Him. This should lead on to the ultimate goal of worship. You should be aiming to flow from one song to the next seamlessly, as you gently lead people into a deep experience with the Lord.

c) Let the songs progress: High Worship or Praise: These are songs that forget about you, the person, or I/Me, and turn towards or concentrate solely on the Lord. Many hymns are fantastic for this. Unfortunately, there are few modern worship songs that are like this. Some older ones which illustrate the sort of song I am talking about are “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”, “Holy Ground”, “Hallelujah” and “He is Lord”. Michael W. Smith’s beautiful worship hymn “Agnus Dei” is a great song for high praise.

d) Open or Free Worship: For some this is very scary, while for others completely natural. This occurs when people begin to praise God in their own way, without structure or (and note this) direction from the front. God, being a creative God, loves it when we present to Him a spontaneous song from the heart, just as we parents love to hear the songs our kids make up.

This is not everyone’s cup of tea, and neither is it for every church, but the Lord may just do this one day and surprise you! Let’s be open, but not force it. Through the years I have seen some sensational examples of Open worship, and some phenomenal abuses of it. I have devoted a whole chapter to this area later in the book.

When leading Praise and Worship, AVOID SPEAKING!!!

leading praise and worshipWorship leaders, if you get nothing else from this book, then get this: don’t talk too much! Your job is to lead worship, not preach, so please spare the congregation and do what you are appointed and anointed to do. When leading worship, I like to think of John 3:30. I try to become less and let Him become more. My experience is that, if we panic at any point, or are uncomfortable, or if things are not quite right, our first tendency is to start speaking. Please, please, please avoid this!

This is especially true for those of you who lead without playing an instrument, because the voice is the only thing you have! If you lead without playing, then you must have a close relationship with your musicians, especially the piano and/or the guitar. Speak to them, direct them, but I still caution you about filling every gap with your words, your opinions, your experiences and your voice.

It is tempting to read a long passage of Scripture, say a long prayer or have a long chat about how we should all be worshiping the Lord, but again I beg you, please avoid this. D.L. Moody once said, very appropriately, “most prayers should be cut short at either end and set on fire in the middle!” SO, I am not saying you can never pray, share a verse, etc., but please only share what you know the Lord wants you to share, and avoid long speeches. Better to sing, have passages of music or even silence. I believe that any speaking tends to distract from focusing on the Lord, and I have witnessed on countless occasions a lovely spirit of worship extinguished by a well meaning worship leader who breaks people’s concentration by talking too often.

Recently one of my worship leaders complained that I had basically demoted him from a worship leader to a song leader, because I won’t let him talk incessantly through his leading of the service. I told him I strongly disagree, and that he is confusing what he has to say with worship. I had received numerous complaints about his excessive talking during worship, and many, indeed most people believe that the best worship times are when the leader says nothing and GOD MAKES IT HAPPEN! I don’t believe throwing your 2 cents in is worship. You are far better to stand back and let God have his way!

Choosing Song Keys

When choosing a song list, I never simply base my choice on song titles or words, but always take into consideration the keys of the songs. I always like to be able to flow from one song to the next easily, and having appropriate key helps immensely!

A favourite of mine is to start with songs in F, then go to songs in G, and then A. If a song is written in F, then I might do a repeat of the chorus modulating to G, so that I am in the key of G for the next song. Wise use of song keys enables you to flow the entire worship time into one, continuous flow of music, and people can easily be caught up in and lost in the worship of the Lord. It is wonderful to see your people do this!

So if you are leading praise and worship, think about these things and make sure you are leading with purpose!

Leading Praise and WorshipI love leading praise and worship!  As a musician and a singer, nothing else fills me with such joy and blessing like leading praise and worship, whether it be in a big church or small, or to conservatives or charismatics.  I just love what the Lord has called me to do, and long to do it all with all my heart.

 

Yet when you lead praise and worship week after week, month after month and year after year, there is a tendency to get into a rut.  A rut is just a grave with the ends knocked out, so it is not where you want to be, that’s for sure!  But if you do it for a long time, like a straight stretch of road the challenges disappear and you become professional and all business.  You lose the excitement, and very often lose the joy and the power of leading praise and worship.

 

Now, this article has a few ideas that can help you retain your love of your ministry as you worship lead, but our complete training is the best way to really discover how to supercharge your leading of praise and worship in a way that will thrill your church.  Check it all out here…

 

Worship leaders usually face a long road, taking on the task for years.  You get good at what you do, you begin to feel comfortable and in a real sense you tend to rely on your own strengths and talent rather than on God.  You say you are reliant on Him, but the reality is you are good enough to not feel the need to!

 

How can you retain the excitement, joy and glory of God When you are leading praise and worship for a long time?

Here’s a few things that work for me…

 

  1. [simpleazon-image align=”none” asin=”0801091772″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/5125K6N6CYL._SL160_.jpg” width=”103″]Never take credit for a great worship time: Whatever you do, do it all for His glory, and take no credit, even in your own mind, for any success you have along the way (1 Corinthians 10:31)
  2. Find different ways to do songs:  I try to never quite sing a song the same way, yet I have been involved with worship teams that do it identically week after week for years!  Make it different each time, and make it your own!  Don’t just reproduce the CD, but take little chances, mix up the order of verses and choruses, go up a key or try a variation like drums only.  These little changes make leading praise and worship special and unique each and every service.
  3. Go acoustic: every now and then, make your entire worship service completely different.
  4. Work on vocals:  There are hundreds of variations in harmonies and backing vocals you can explore which can make every song a wonderful, new experience.
  5. Allow time for God to move: Praise and worship leading is all about pointing people to the Lord, so don’t script everything so tightly that He has no room to do something extraordinary.  Try leaving long periods of silence, or mood music and wait on the Lord.

 

Whatever method you favour, make sure that you keep things fresh and totally to God’s glory when you are next leading praise and worship!

Leading Praise and Worship

Leading praise and worship is commonplace in churches across the world, but it seems to me that there is a question of culture?  Namely, whose?  Yours or mine, western or eastern, local or something imported from America or Australia?  Do people from Western culture have the right to impose our cultural values on your congregations?

 

The big challenge to worship leaders across the world is whether they should reproduce the songs just as they are on the CD, or whether they should adapt them in some way to express their own local culture.  I want to examine 3 areas which, if you are leading praise and worship in your home country, I think you need to pray long and hard about!

 

  1. The Lyrics

 

I have heard time and again English songs being sung in English despite the fact that many locals do not speak the language.  I understand that English is the trade language, and also the language of TV and movies, and that many young people want to speak it, but does the average member of a congregation understand what they singing about?

 

Across the world there are many countries who speak multiple languages, and I think the churches in places like Malaysia and India have a great idea.  They might sing a song 3 times, and mix English with the local language on different verses.  This keep the original flavour of the song, but still provides a way for locals to understand what the song is talking about.

 

  1. The Style of Music

 

There are many styles of music in the world, and we westerners don’t have all the answers.  Why not modify the song style to suit your local congregation.  If you are in Africa, and reggae music is number one, then modify the style so your people enjoy the song their way!

 

There are even unique styles of singing, such as Tongan choirs or Indian singing, which might not be a western person’s cup of tea, but they may be perfect for the people of your own culture!

 

  1. Instruments

 

Many cultures have their own, unique instruments, and I think introducing them into worship is a super cool idea!  Drums can make a song African, while cymbals might offer an Asian feel.  I know the Chinese have some pretty amazing string instruments, while the Indians have sitars.  If your culture has unique instruments, find a way to use them to praise the Lord when you are leading praise and worship in your own churches!

 

Leading Praise and Worship in Your Culture

 

So, if you are leading praise and worship do it within your own culture, and do it so your people can understand and relate to what is happening.  I don’t believe that imposing western culture and ideals is the best thing, and I do believe that a blend between the two can provide a valid way forward for those grappling with this issue.

 

Leading praise and worship needs to be about leading your people to a closer relationship with the Lord in a way they can understand, not changing how they worship to make it like a western church!

Recently I had the honour of being in the music team with my Daughter leading praise and worship.

Whilst she has been leading praise and worship at the church youth group for some time now, she has little experience in leading praise and worship in a Sunday morning service. Let me tell you: She did a great job. God was in the house, and you could sense the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit.

Working Together When Leading Praise and Worship

Alexie does not really play an instrument, but she has an amazing voice. The challenge with being relatively new to leading praise and worship and not playing an instrument is that there can be a tendency for “Gaps” . These can quickly lead to awkward silence if the leader is not on the ball, so this is where I stepped in. With guitar and microphone, and having a very good idea of where Alexie was taking the worship, (We had practised all songs prior, and she had communicated what she wanted to achieve and how she planned to do that), I “filled in the gaps”, allowing for a smooth transition while she “caught her breath” so as to speak.

The Keys to Leading Praise and Worship “Tag Team”

Leading Praise and WorshipThe key to the success of this session was in two parts: I had to remain in the background. It is important for anyone who is supporting up and coming worship leaders to allow them the freedom in doing what they are doing, and helping them to achieve that.In other words, let help them discover their leadership qualities. When Alexie looked a little unsure, I took over, gently so as not to make it obvious, and as soon as she regained her confidence, I stepped back and let her take over. Tag team.
The second part is that it important for the up and coming worship leader to be teachable. Alexie was both humble and gracious enough to allow me to help her, and step in. Sometimes I could see a questioning look on her face, almost uncomfortable saying “Where do I go from here? How do I get to the next step?” I merely took the reigns, directed the band and we continued on.

In a way, because Alexie and I are related and we have shared the stage together over the years on many occasions, she is comfortable around me and knows to trust me. I had to make absolutely sure that I did not abuse that trust. This is another important key to Tag Team Worship Leading.

 

Reproducing While You are Leading Praise and Worship

My fellow worship leader, I encourage you as you read these blogs and listen to the Worship Leader Podcast, look at the members of your team, and find people who can be trained up to lead worship. Whether in a Youth Group, a Home Cell, a mid-week meeting or a Sunday service. Remember you can’t be there all the time, and the congregation loves variety. (I mean, I don’t eat peanut butter at every meal! ) Be prepared to do some Tag Team when leading praise and worship. This may be as simple a beginning as your ‘apprentice’ leading just one or two praise songs at the beginning of the service. As they become more confident, loosen up the reigns and let them take more on. You are always there for them to fall back on.
And make sure that you get together both before the service to plan, and after the service to analyse. Don’t use the after service to criticise your apprentice for short falls or hiccups. Chances are that if things didn’t go to plan, and the music wasn’t brilliant, they are already punishing themselves. Use every experience to build in readiness for the next one. Tag Team when you are leading praise and worship is very important and can be amazingly affective in bringing your congregation into the presence of God.

The outcome of Last Sunday? My wife and our Pastor came to me after and said: You two worked really well together leading praise and worship this morning…” We were a team with a unity of purpose. And when the people dwell together in Unity, God commands the Blessing!

Be sure to tune into the latest podcast, and have a listen to the ones you haven’t downloaded yet.

God Bless you real good and have a great week!

Erick (And keep on leading praise and worship to His glory!)

I recently received an outline of standards for leading praise and worship , and I have asked Jane Sheneman, a worship leader who is going through a torrid time at the moment in her worship team.  It seems that Jane believes in standards of excellence, but many of her team do not want to “commit” to these ideals.

 

Leading Praise and Worship Takes Commitment

 

Leading Praise and WorshipThe fact is , leading praise and worship takes commitment.  It takes time, it takes passion and Jane, like many worship leaders, gets very frustrated by the lack of commitment shown by her team members.  So she decided to document what she believes is required to be a part of the worship team.

 

Leading Praise and Worship is Leading People

 

When we are leading praise and worship we are leading a group of talented and sometimes brittle people.  I have read this document and I think it is worth publishing on the blog so that you can comment on it, and also incorporate it into your team.  It sets out the standards that we really require from our team, and it is a perfect way to introduce new team members so that they know what is required of them.

 

Leading Praise and Worship Requires Standards of Excellence

 

Not perfection, excellence, and particularly in the area of our attitudes and commitment to the Lord and each other.  Little things like not turning up on time or criticizing team members can blow up in your face if you neglect them, so please read these ideas and see what you think.

 

And now, here is Janes offering…

Praise Team guidelines & responsibilities :

Goal: To bring “GOD” glory, and people closer to Him through our worship service.

 

Responsibilities:

 1. A good testimony to the body (the church family). Cheerful . . . considerate . . .caring (not proud or boastful).

2. Praise Team members are the most visible leadership of the Worship Ministry.

3. A cooperative spirit within Praise Team.  Attitude is more important than ability.

    There is no “I” in Team, but there is “US” in Jesus

4. Give of time to prepare and rehearse music outside rehearsals. You will be expected to listen to & learn the music on the CD provided.

5.Lead in worship. don’t hesitate , that only brings confusion. You as leaders need to initiate singing, clapping and the lifting of hands( if appropriate)

6. Team members need to make worship and practice a priority in their lives.

 

 Dress:

o LADIES: Slacks/Skirts/Dresses – Well below the knee!

o MEN: No shorts, t-shirts, or flip-flops.

 

Praise Teams rehearsal :

 Thursday 6:00-8 in the sanctuary:

* Attendance and punctuality are very important factors for being a member of the music team(s).

Rehearsals are only 2 hours per week, & 1/2 hour Sunday before Sunday School, That is SO little for such important work.

 

Two things are required for every rehearsal:

 1.Great Attitude!

2.ON TIME Arrival!

*Make a habit that on time is 5-10 minutes early! In case you must be absent . . . you need to call or text “Jane Sheneman” as soon as you know you can not be there. If I am unavailable “leave a message on cell(1XXXXXX) or home(XXXXXXX) phone” I will get back to you as soon as possible.

* Rehearsals are required, and members should arrive ready to work on the designated material. Poor attendance and punctuality reflect a lack of discipline and respect for the Lord’s ministry.

*a continued inability to be @ practice or arrive ontime means you will not be prepared & unable to lead with team in Sundays a.m. service.

 *Ministery often involves a sacrifice – this often expresses itself in a time commitment.

 

 

 

A Lifestyle that is continually growing to conform to the image of Christ.

* Participants must be born-again believers of Christ, and their lifestyle must resemble that of a born-again Christian.

   If there are problems along the moral line I will talk to the individual in question.

   If there is no improvement that person may need to talk with the pastor.

*Because the Praise Team is a position of leadership an unwilling desire to adhere to church policy may result in being asked to step down.

 each case will be handled tactfully and confidentially with the aim of restoring your faith and ministry potential, keeping your confidence in the leadership of this

 ministry and the congregation.

 

Teachable:

This means No one has ever “arrived” – be open to one another and new ways of looking at things and correction.

receive constructive criticism and be open to the comments  and ideas of others.

Humility is a virtue and James 4:6 says: But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

also Luke 14:11 says: For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

hum·ble

 1.not proud or arrogant; modest: to be humble although successful.

 

*any differences need to be dealt with in Love and seek to foster peace ( James 3:17)

always build each other up with positive comments and affirmities.

We need to strive as a “Team” to sacrifice our own wants and desires to see the greater good for the group and the church.

realizing we are interdependant of each other and valueing what each of us brings to this ministry, welcoming and giving everyone a sense of belonging, and being considerate of each other.

Philippians 2:1 -4

Imitating Christ’s Humility

 1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

 

 

 

 

 

Commited to Excellence:

 We should never ” wing it” or “fly by the seat of our pants”! in any ministry and this should be reflected in our worship with careful planning, practicing and execution.

 

This does not mean “professionalism” and we are not here to entertain people but we need to do our best and bring God the glory through our ministry.

 

We should never be content with where we are at but always seek to become better at what we do and serve GOD with excellence.

 

Prepare your heart to Worship

Sunday morning we are often so rushed and harried that we are not in an attitude of worship. We need to take time as a team before we warm up to quiet our hearts, pray and ask the Lord to be in and with us throughout the service. Leading people in worship is a privilege and responsibility,you will be leading people toward the throne of God. Unity and a love for one another will effect our ability to do this.

 

 

 

*Please note:

These guidelines are meant to help us as a Team to grow towards Christ and each other, also to help us in our decisions and priorities.

All who are interested in being a part of the Praise Team(s) will be required to sign a statement form which would be a mutual agreement between both parties.

 

So what do you think?  If you are leading praise and worship regularly in your church you may find this information very helpful!

Leading praise and worship can be one of the most exhilarating and wonderful ministries in the world, but sometimes it can also be one of the most discouraging!  It is an upfront ministry and so you can get fantastic highs, but you can also be the target of a lot of negativity and criticism which can cause discouragement and dissatisfaction with your position.  If you are going through this right now, as we all do at some time, here’s some words of encouragement from someone who has been there and done that and got the T-shirt!

 

Discouraged in Leading Praise and Worship: Check This Video

 

Perhaps this video will encourage you in your calling, because if the Lord has called you to this ministry, don’t let the tongue of people deter you from what He has planned for your life!

 

You’re Not Alone Leading Praise and Worship!

 

Remember, you are not alone in Leading Praise and Worship, and you do not need to stand alone.  There are many of us leading praise and worship around the world just as you are, and we go through all the discouragement you do from time to time.  The important thing is to realize that you are not alone, that others leading praise and worship across the globe are standing with you, and you need to connect with them.  That’s what this site is all about!

 

Connect With Others Leading Praise and Worship

 

Leading Praise and WorshipSo, enjoy the video and be encouraged, but don’t forget to reach out to others bot to encourage them and to be encouraged yourself as you are leading praise and worship.  You are precious and the Lord loves you and has chosen you for a mighty task.  Keep in touch with our leading praise and worship blog and our new Podcast, because these things will encourage you as you serve the Lord in your own church situation.

 

Remember, you are not alone, and you do not need to face discouragement alone.  You are called to a mighty purpose, so start leading praise and worship with joy and courage as the mighty ministry you are destined to be!

If you are involved in leading praise and worship in a non-westernized society, you may be facing the question of whether you should modify your worship style to fit your culture. Most of the styles of leading praise and worship are heavily influenced by the church in the developed nations, and if you are in an emerging nation it is important that you do not reproduce what you hear on worship CDs, but start leading praise and worship within your own culture.

Leading Praise and Worship is About the Lord

Contrary to what you might believe, leading praise and worship in a developing nation is not about westernizing your church! Admittedly, there are many wonderful praise and worship songs that have been beautifully produced by the Western Church, and it is tempting to play and sing the songs exactly the same way that you hear them in recordings, but I do not believe that this is what should be done.

Leading praise and worship in church is about pointing people towards the Lord, and I believe that the Lord wants to meet people where they are at and in their own culture to impact their lives. If we continue to use music as an excuse to introduce Western culture, and we are conveying to the people that the Lord commanded us to worship in an exclusive way, the way of the developed nations. If you are leading praise and worship, this is your opportunity to show people that God is relevant to them in their culture.

Leading Praise and WorshipLeading Praise and Worship is About the People

As I write this article I’m sitting in a room in northeast India, where these beautiful Indian people are singing songs that I recognize but in their own language. Some songs are in English, but many of them are in a language that the people understand best, and this is part of leading praise and worship in your own culture. This style of music and worship, however, would not be out of place in any American, English or Australian church, and this way I feel that those leading praise and worship are misled.

One of the great difficulties facing the early and medieval church was that much of the original writings were in Latin, a language which the common people did not speak! However wonderful a worship song is, if the people have no understanding of the meaning behind it is practically useless! If you are leading praise and worship and you want to make it relevant to your culture, one of the first steps is to translate the words into a language that your people will understand.

Leading Praise and Worship is About Expressing Your Culture

However, leading praise and worship in your own culture needs to go beyond simply the words. Most cultures have a specific way of expressing themselves musically, and I believe it brings great joy to the heart of God when he hears people worshiping using their own cultural instruments in their own cultural style. For some strange reason, those leading praise and worship seem to always want to make the sound more Western, rather than embracing the music and style of their own culture. Perhaps there is a mystique to Western culture, but when you are leading praise and worship you have an incredible opportunity to blend the Western sound with your own cultural instruments and style!

So if you are leading praise and worship in your church, and if you live in Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia, India and South America, please try and express your own culture in your worship. This will bring much joy to the heart of God, and also to your people and your country. Western music is attractive, especially to young people, I would suggest the two blamed on the styles of your own culture with Western music to create a unique expression of worship the Lord.

If you are leading praise and worship, you are in the perfect position to blend words and music styles to create a form of worship unique to your culture.

If you have been leading is worship for any length of time you will realize that there are mornings but don’t go well!  Even those experienced in leading praise and worship will have good days and bad days, but the big questions after you have a day when things do not go right are how do you face it, how do you overcome it and how do you not to repeat it?

Leading Praise and Worship is Not That Easy!

The first thing to point out is that leading praise and worship is not easy!  It is a ministry that requires you to discipline yourself, train yourself, and seek God with all your heart, allowing Him to lead, guided and shape the way you lead worship.  When you have a day leading praise and worship where things do not go to plan, it is natural to blame yourself, your preparation or your team and feel like a failure!  Your pride may have gotten the way, your leadership skills may be questioned, and you will feel disheartened and disillusioned.

However, the overwhelming reason for worship not going well has nothing to do with your pride, the state of your heart or God trying to embarrass you!  The main reason people do poorly at leading praise and worship is that they are untrained and unprepared for the job they have taken on.

Leading Praise and Worship

It Can Happen, Even If You Are Experienced in Leading Praise and Worship!

The fact is that “a bad day at the office” can happen to anyone, even the most experienced at leading praise and worship!  You might have sound problems, technical problems, difficulties with members of your band, or simple things like the breaking of a guitar string.  You may have had a fight with someone just before you went on, there may be trouble brewing within the church congregation or there may be no other explicable reason for any of this to take place.  The question is not necessarily what causes the morning to come out, but rather what is your response?

Leading Praise and  Worship When Everything Goes Wrong!

Speaking as someone who has been leading praise and worship for over 20 years, in everything from home groups and churches to stadiums, the most important thing to remember is that leading praise and worship is not about you!  I know if things do not go according to plan that I feel embarrassed, disillusioned and let down, and I feel like getting angry at myself, my band or even God.  It is in these moments that I pause and remember that leading praise and worship is not about promoting myself, making me look good or making me feel good because the job was well-done it is about leading the people in my church to be the worship of the Lord!  As John 3:30 says, “He must become greater and I must become less!”  If I examine myself and no problem with my heart is revealed, the reason for the morning going poorly could be anyone of 1000 reasons completely unrelated to my walk with God!  Leading praise and worship is a spiritual journey, and as in life not every day is one of triumph!

If you have had experience leading praise and worship that you feel has not gone well, and you know what your heart you want to serve the Lord in this area with humility, then the best advice I can give you is to get some training.  If you learn the basics on leading praise and worship, and if you understand how to structure a great worship time and flow with the Spirit wherever He leads, then you will find that the number of times worship fails will decrease.  If you get the basics right then press in to the Lord, you will find but you’ll have more incredible case of worship and less what have leading disasters!

Leading Praise and Worship Requires Training

If you get practical and powerful worship leader training, and keep your heart humble then you will find that almost every time you are leading praise and worship will be a powerful and wonderful experience!

When you are leading praise and worship one of the key questions you face, indeed one of the greatest sources of criticism for worship leaders in general, is how long the worship time should go for? A second and related question is, “How long should you leave people standing?”, which will be deal with in another post.

leading praise and worshipDifferent Views of Leading Praise and Worship

The first thing to point out is that those of us who are leading praise and worship come from a different perspective to most of the congregation, and also the pastor. We love to worship, it is our passion and that’s why we became worship leaders in the first place, so as far as we are concerned, long worship times are just fine. However, not all the people in church share our enthusiasm or passion for leading praise and worship, so for many of them the worship time is the preliminary act to the main show, which is the preaching. Most pastors feel this way too, because to their perspective, the preaching is the main part of the service.

When you are called to leading praise and worship you may think that your most important role is to lead people into worship. That’s not strictly true: it is your main role, but it is not the most important role! The most important role is to serve, the Lord, the pastor and the congregation. So, as a general principle, if a large number of your congregation, and your pastor think the worship service was too long, then it probably was!

I have written hundreds of pages on leading praise and worship in my manual “Worship In A Nutshell,” to teach practical, useful and easy to apply techniques that will transform your worship leading starting the very next time you lead. I would now like to share an extract of that discussing this very issue…

Leading Praise and Worship Services of the Right Length

While we all want to be flexible enough to allow the Lord to work in our church service, we cannot escape the fact that everyone has an opinion as to how long a worship service should be. Be aware that those leading praise and worship and musicians will always think it needs to be longer, while many of the congregation believe it ought to be shorter. Most churches I visit have very long worship times, which resemble endurance tests or in some cases even torture as people are made to stand with their hands in the air for hours.

To sit during one of these sessions seems to convey either weakness of lack of spirituality! The reality is it probably conveys cramps and commonsense. Any fool could see that this is not appropriate, but apparently not some worship leaders, who continue to drag out worship times to the max.

I once ministered at Hills Christian Life Center, the Mecca for Aussie musicians (do we all face Hills when we pray?), and saw Darlene lead worship. It lasted 20-25 minutes. Shock, amazement! They were straight into the Lord’s presence from the first song, and they did not labor the worship as some do for over an hour. This should speak volumes to those of us who lead worship. Worship needs to be ENJOYED, not ENDURED!

So, in the name of time management and common sense, here are a few ideas on timing in worship:

Tips For Leading Praise and Worship Services that Are Not Too Long

1. Start on time when leading praise and worship:

Regardless of how many or how few are in the room, START ON TIME. This may not be applicable in some 3rd world situations when people travel hours on foot to be there, but for the rest of us, let’s get it right and start on time. It is not a performance, and you are doing this as unto the Lord, so it should make little difference how many are in the room. To start late and then encroach on the pastor’s sermon time is an affront to the pastor.

2. Be prepared to reduce the length of the worship time.

You are there to be a servant, not a star, so always be the first to volunteer to cut back. If something else goes overtime, you should volunteer to reduce what you are doing. When I lead worship at Bill Newman meetings, if time is tight I am always the first to volunteer to cut back, because that’s what real servants do! And, at least half the time, Bill kindly refuses the offer and asks me to sing my full quota of songs. You see, there is a blessing in serving a Man of God!

3. Have a couple of songs up your sleeve:

It is often a good idea to have a couple of songs in reserve, just in case you need them. So, when you choose the songs for the service, you don’t have to play them all!

4. Don’t get locked into a program when leading praise and worship

Be flexible enough to change songs, cut songs or even add songs if the Spirit permits. I am always wary of the printed orders of service. Sometimes they are timed, which is even scarier! Now, I know we need some sort of order of service, and that everything needs to be done in order, but let’s not sacrifice the move of the Spirit on the altar of an orderly programme! If something happens, we need to be free to change.

5. When do you stop the worship?

I always tell the pastor, “Please come up on to stage at any time for any reason and feel free to take over.” I am subject to the pastor, so whenever he is good and ready (or if he feels things have changed) he needs to feel free to stand up and join us in worship or take over. Again, it is all about being a servant, not having your own way!

6. Ask yourself, “How many times do we need to do this song?”

One of the most frequent criticisms of worship leaders is that they repeat songs or sections of songs to the point of frustration. It is a song of worship, guys, not a mantra!

So, when preparing for a service, consider these ideas and be sensitive both to the Spirit and also to those in the congregation. You are called to lead worship, not perform and not torture. In the end less is usually more when it comes to leading praise and worship.

When you are called to leading praise and worship, there is a huge amount of joy, but this can be counterbalanced by a certain degree of pain in getting your worship leading to the point that you want it to be.

leading praise and worshipWhat Leading Praise and Worship is About

Leading praise and worship is, in fact, about those two phrases; praise and worship and leading! Sure, it helps if you play an instrument or sing well, but this is not essential when it comes to leading praise and worship. The two main requirements are that you have a heart to worship (and many people can sing or play well, but do not really know the first thing about worship!), and that you are able to be a true leader to your band and your audience.

So, what does leading praise and worship actually mean in the context of worship? We know that the Biblical definition of leading involves serving (Mark 10:45), and I believe that this is an excellent frame of reference when you consider leading praise and worship and a team.

What to Do When Leading Praise and Worship

When leading praise and worship, you ought to be responsible for the overall direction and execution of the worship in your church on any given Sunday. Most often you should decide the songs, the order of the songs, the way these songs are linked together and the style of music used, as well as specialized areas of worship such as open worship or blending into communion, etc. This should be your domain, and that means that you need to take full responsibility for every decision you make, whether it works out well or poorly.

As praise and worship leaders, we all want to know that in the successful worship times, where you really sense the Lord’s presence and power, we had a huge part in it. But when things go wrong, when the worship is tough, when the band or singers miss the mark, or the audience is bored or lost, we too have to realize that, as Franklin D Roosevelt said, “the buck stops here!”

So, leading praise and worship involves you not only setting the direction and pace of worship, it also sees you bearing the responsibility for whatever goes right or wrong during worship. You cannot have one without the other.

Leading Praise and Worship Means Leading Your Team and the Congregation

Leading praise and worship also involves leading your band and singers, dealing with the difficulties they can present, which can sometimes draw more pain than tears. YOU have to decide who is on this week. YOU have to decide what part each will play, and YOU have to tell them when they are out of line, but do this always in love!

Yet throughout all of the worship leading trials and tribulations, ultimately you mus always remember that you are in this position of  leading praise and worship to serve; to serve the Lord, to serve the Pastor and to serve both the congregation and your fellow musicians and singers. A great leader leads by serving others. A great leader leads by inspiration, not by a climate of fear and intimidation, yet as I travel the world I see gain and again worship leaders who believe that they are dictators, ruling in a climate of fear.

Leading praise and worship is first and foremost about worship, and worship is about serving. Worship leaders, I beg you, please do not laud it over your troops with an iron fist. Be strong, but also be full of love, full of grace and full of a serving heart. Then you shall truly rise to be the worship leaders you long to be. If you want more teaching on leading praise and worship check out the full Worship Training package.