I recently had someone approach me after church who was new to your church, with an interesting compliment about my worship leading.

I know my motivation for leading worship is not to receive compliments from people, but you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t get excited when someone wanted to say something positive about your Ministry. So while I don’t fish for or seek a compliment about my worship leading, this interesting compliment was one that made me stop and think.

And that is what I want to pass on to worship leaders around the world… This simple compliment once again cause me to refocus what I’m doing in my worship leading, and hopefully hit the mark when it comes to leading people closer to the presence of God.

She simply said that she loved every single song that I did when leading worship. She was referring to 4 weeks of many and varied songs, and I believe this is more important than just the fact that we have similar tastes in music.

What she mentioned was that many of the songs that I’m doing are slightly older, and therefore she related to them. As a new member of the church, she felt immediately welcomed when she heard and recognised songs that we were doing in worship. When someone comes to your church and only hears new songs off the latest CD, chances are they won’t know any of them, and the effect on a new person in your congregation is immediate and dramatic.

When you sit through a worship time but cannot relate to or recognise any of the songs, your first thought is, “I don’t belong here.” What made this lady feel at home, and what has made her stay on in our church community, is the fact that she knew and related to many of the songs that I’d chosen when I was leading worship.

Are these the songs that I like? Well, some of them are, but some of them are not. I don’t choose the songs I’m doing in worship just because I like them, I choose them because I feel that people can relate to them and can genuinely worship God in and around those songs. At the end of the day, it’s not whether I like the material, it’s whether people can relate to it, worship the Lord to it and lose themselves in His presence.

So I would encourage you, worship leaders, if you want to be powerful and anointed at what you do, choose your songs carefully. This little compliment about my worship leading has caused me to refocus on the songs that I choose, and why I choose them. I’m not saying you need to do lots of old songs, because many churches are doing more modern material, but what I am saying is that you need to choose songs that people can relate to and love. Very often these will not be the latest and greatest songs, but they will be songs that have become classics through the years. Don’t just churn them out the way you use to 5 years ago, give them a new and modern twist and that way you can sound modern but still be doing songs that people know and love.

So while you’re not fishing for compliments, and either am I, you do want to do material that is accepting and welcoming for people who are new in your congregation. After all, saying I’ve taught a song well or sounded great means very little to me. The ultimate compliment about my worship leading is that I’ve lead people into the presence of God, and I’m prepared to do any song that will draw people closer to God’s presence!

Training A Worship Leader

Someone Else’s Turn: Training a Worship Leader

The other day we were training a worship leader: my daughter led worship, and again she did a great job.

(Some Cool thoughts from the legendary Erick Buma, Esq… thought you might want to know that!)

Her song choice was good; her song order was well set out. However, some of the song arrangements were not the way I would have done them.
This of course was a test, not for my daughter but for me; I already said she did a great job. Everything went really well.  So what was my problem?

Personality reflected

training a worship leaderOne of the special privileges of being a worship leader is God’s ability to use an individual’s personality, taste and flavour in a worship service. This means that every worship leader should be unique in their leading, and when you are training a worship leader you need to allow them to be unique too.  God has given us a unique personality as individual as our fingerprint. He has created us individual to be a unique blessing to this world.
In worship leading this is no different. God is not about cloning the “successful” worship leaders of this world, he never wanted me to be Phil Keaggy. If He did, I would be a really good guitarist. Instead He created me an average guitarist, with an anointing to lead people into His throne room through worship. People respond to the way I lead worship, because of my unique anointing. I can’t expect the up and coming worship leader under my tutelage to imitate me in the way I lead (although imitation may be a compliment to my leading); I need to encourage them to find where the Spirit is leading them in their ministry. My ego would like nothing better than if there were a dozen or so mini Ericks running around leading worship just like I do. However I get the distinct feeling this would not go down terribly well in the heavens.
My challenge then, is as demanding as the young bird who is about to learn how to fly. I need to let my apprentice fly: not so I can watch her fail, I am there still and ever to back her up and take over if the situation demands it. No I need to let her find her wings. I need to enable her to find her unique anointing and empower her to pursue that calling in order to bless God and bless the house. In short, I need to learn to let go.

Worship Leaders with personality or Clones?

I was talking to a friend of mine recently who has been a successful worship leader for some decades. He is anointed in bringing the congregation into the throne room of the Most High. He has a unique style and uses a vast repertoire of songs. He was asked recently to lead worship in the church he has just started to attend. “No problem,” said he and he proceeded to prepare his worship service. The music director then said to him that he could only do the songs which she sanctioned and those songs just happened to be a group of songs from one particular church and brand new, which meant he wasn’t familiar with the songs or their arrangement. And in looking at the songs, he wasn’t so sure that they would fit into his unique style of worship leading anyway. He put his case to his music director and in short she replied that he could only do the songs which she said he could do. Out of exasperation he replied: “You don’t want a worship leader, you want a clone!”  His music director was not prepared to let him go.  There is a difference between training a worship leader and cloning yourself!

How many songs in your database?

Interestingly, another friend of mine is also a music director at a church, and he has no less than 6 worship leaders, each with their own team of musicians and backup singers. When I asked him how many songs he gives his worship leaders access to, he replied that he has about 460 songs in his data base, ranging from hymns to country and Western to modern day worship music. He told me that each of his worship leaders is so different in their approach that it adds a real unique flavour to the  worship each Sunday.
He told me that one of his worship leaders loves hymns so she uses them a lot. One of the worship leaders is quite young, and so there’s a lot of Planet Shakers songs in his leading, and so on: True worship with individual flavour which brings great variety to the worship service.

Training a Worship Leader: How to Let Go!

In letting go, I don’t mean we let the new worship leaders “sink or swim” ; we are still teaching them in the art of leading and pastoral requirements like timing, sensitivity, when not to do a certain type of song; and technical aspects like flow, key change, etc.
There’s a lot still for you to do, but do it sensitively and encourage your new worship leader to exercise their individuality. Most of all, let go the rope when you are training a worship leader!

Training A Worship Leader