Choosing Songs for Worship

Much debate exists as to who should be choosing songs for worship in a church service. I notice that pastors will often tell each other that they must choose all the songs in the morning service, and in fairness this is born out of a long history of the praise and worship leader stubbornly doing his own thing and not being teachable or correctable. By the same token, I have seen many a senior pastor get up at the end of worship and kill the Spirit of worship (shock, horror: yes, pastors are not always right!).

The first point to make is that WORSHIP IS NOT A SUPPORT ACT FOR THE MAIN EVENT, the teaching. Some people and indeed some pastors view it as just that. It is a “preliminary”, padding out the service while the late comers, who don’t like the style of music, arrive just in time to hear the Word of the Lord preached. Others think it helps us to “get the wriggles” out of us, ready for the preaching.

At the other end of things, many worship teams make worship into a marathon designed to exhaust you on your feet until you collapse in the seat ready to listen.

I believe that both of these views demean a gift God has given us to draw near to Him. Let me explain what I believe worship should do in a service:

 choosing songs for worship  

1. Open our hearts,

Turning our eyes away from the cares of the day and towards the Lord.

2. Fellowship with Him, intimately, and lose ourselves in worship to the Lord.

3. Prepare our hearts for the message to be preached. Worship and music can spearhead the gospel, and make our hearts more responsive to the Lord. It should settle our hearts and make us ready to reach out to God.

4. Provide corporate unity as we worship. Joining together with others in worship is a special experience which binds our hearts together in joy and fellowship.


Having been the worship leader for a major Evangelist, I know the power music has to unite, and also to divide. I also know that, as Bill gets up to preach, I can make it easy and flowing, or extremely difficult for him to bring the message, based on how I have behaved in the worship time.

As a praise andworsking together worship leader, you provide the same service for your Pastor. You are not the support act, and you are not the fill in. Yours is the awesome responsibility of preparing the hearts of the people to receive the Word of God, and you can make life easy or very hard for your Pastor.

So, if the morning goes well in worship, feel a sense of accomplishment. If it goes badly, be the first to apologize to the Pastor and accept responsibility. Then, do your level best to get it right the next time.

The success of a worship time can depend to a great degree on choosing songs for worship that facilitate worship, so the next area we will examine is how to choose the appropriate songs.

The big question is who should be choosing songs for worship? In my completely unbiased musician’s opinion, they should do it together, where the worship leader should choose the songs, but the pastor should have final say as to what is in and what is out. This is important because, ultimately, the responsibility for the service rests with him. However, the worship leader is the guy who should know how the songs will flow together, and he should be constantly making sure that the service is heading where the pastor wants it to go.

A Matter of Trust

P1010295 (FILEminimizer)The ideal situation is a trust that develops between the senior pastor and the worship leader. The worship leaders must, repeat MUST, be 100% subject to the pastor, because as we serve one another we serve the Lord (Mk 10:45). He has to ask the pastor what he wants, where he wants the service to go, what he is preaching on and, if the pastor senses a change in what God is doing, he is absolutely free to stand up and take over.

Pastors, your praise and worship leaders are like other leaders in the church. You cannot do everything, all the time (remember Moses). You need to train them to minister according to what the Lord wants in your church; otherwise you will have trouble on your hands. I have seen quite a few churches blown apart by unhappy music teams rebelling against an overbearing pastor. NONE OF THIS GLORIFIES GOD!

The ultimate situation is similar to the one that exist between Bill Newman and myself. After many years of ministering together, I kind of know what he is thinking, and he knows what I am thinking. Thus, with a minimum amount of consultation together, I tend to select exactly the songs that fit with his message for the day. Leaders, it is awesome when you reach this situation consistently, for you will see that the Lord really anoints such unity!

He trusts me enough to allow me to be the one choosing songs for worship, and I trust him enough to listen to every suggestion he makes!

Worship Leading not drivingWhen it comes to worship leading, we all want to do a great job leading an inspiring our congregations into deep worship experience. However, some congregations are a lot more difficult than others to lead, and so many zealous worship leaders find themselves driving their people rather than leading them!

Signs of Driving Your Audience

One of the key signs that you are driving an audience rather than leading them involves you as a worship leader carefully observing the people you are ministering to. You need to know that your congregation is with you every step of the way when you are worship leading, and one of the classic worship leading mistakes occurs when the band and singers are lost in worship, but the congregation is simply standing there looking at them.

As a general rule, if people are looking at their watches or checking their cell phones you have lost your audience. You are no longer leading them but attempting to drive them into worship, and they clearly don’t want to be there!

Another sure sign of driving your audience or driving them occurs when you are constantly imploring them to greater heights of worship. It is okay to verbally encourage them from time to time, but when this is a constant thing you would do well to stop, look at yourself and what you are doing, and ask if you are actually leading them!

Signs of Leading Your Congregation

Successful praise and worship leading is not about whether you worship, but whether your congregation follows you into worship. A sure sign that you are leading your people successfully is when you can see the majority of the audience lost in worship, with their eyes closed, hands raised and maybe even a smile on their faces.

Another sign that you are leading your congregation occurs when open worship explodes spontaneously from the Somme you are single, rather than being forced or concocted by the worship leader. When you sense God’s power and anointing taking control of the meeting, you can be sure that you are worship leading rather than driving.

So how can you lead rather than drive your audience every week?

One of the best things you can do is to get some good worship leader training, because the more training you have the more skilled you will be at directing and leading an audience deeper into the presence of God. Another thing you can do is to spend more time with the Lord, because your worship leading ability will be directly dependent on the vitality of your personal relationship with God.

And if you find yourself driving your audience, and all of us do from time to time, this is the time to step back and let God take over. Trusting His leading can change the situation where you are driving people into worship they don’t want to be a part of into authentic, powerful and life changing worship leading.

How to Lead WorshipVery few people can tell you how to lead worship if you do not play an instrument. Many of the great worship leaders you hear of today are also musicians, and many of the most songwriters as well, so clearly there is an advantage if you play an instrument when learning how to lead worship.


As a worship leader for over 20 years, I find it much easier to lead worship if I am playing my guitar. Having my own instrument allows me to control the ebb and flow of music, to create the atmosphere that I feel is necessary, and to control the pace and key of the song. My guitar serves as a bridge between the singers and musicians in the worship team, and therefore, if you can play an instrument, I recommend that you lead worship from your chosen instrument.

Learning How to Lead Worship Without Playing an Instrument is Hard, but Not Impossible

Learning how to lead worship if you are unable to play an instrument is difficult but it is not impossible. The jump you need to make mentally is that you are doing more than singing. You have to take control of the situation, and lead your band and singers in the direction you feel in the Lord the service needs to go.

Here are some steps which may help you when leading without an instrument…

  1. Choose songs carefully, but choose them as a musician would! Make sure that you choose them incompatible keys, and do your best to select songs that are in keys which lead comfortably into each other. I like to start any lower key like F, and progress through the key of G and then finish in the key of A. This is a nice and gentle progression throughout song service.
  2. Talk to your musicians. Talk to them before the program begins, clearly outlining the direction each song will take, and the number of times you will sing each session of the song. This way you can control the direction of the song service despite not holding an instrument to coordinate this.
  3. Liaise with one member of the band. While it is great to communicate with all the band, make sure you select one person to act as a linchpin between you and the rest of the musicians.
  4. Talk to your musicians during the service. As a singer, the easiest way to communicate with your band is to pull the microphone away from your mouth and speak directly to them of mic. This way you can communicate what you want, when you want and be able to lead and guide them directly during the song itself.

Although learning how to lead worship when you are not playing an instrument is more difficult, it also opens great possibilities to concentrate on your singing and leading, and to move about in a way that is not possible when you are playing. It allows you to better communicate with the congregation and, if you learn how to communicate with your worship team effectively, you can certainly become a competent amazing worship leader, whether you play an instrument or not.

You can become an effective and powerful worship leader whether you play an instrument or simply singing when you lead. Learn how to lead worship by learning the right techniques and communicating effectively with your worship team.

Many people want to learn how to lead praise and worship, but very few manage to do this with genuine power.  Yet there are things that you can do that can cause your leading to become more powerful, and these are open to everyone regardless of how experienced you are, or how good a singer you might be!


How to Lead Praise and Worship Starting with Your Heart


Leading Worship with PowerLearning how to lead worship starts with your heart.  What happens on Sunday needs to be a reflection of what happens throughout the week in your personal devotions with the Lord, not something you turn on when the congregation arrives.


In fact, I don’t know how to lead praise and worship without my heart being fully and totally engaged with the Lord!  It seems fake or contrived if your walk with the Lord is not on track.  To lead with real power I believe that you have to be a worshiper in your quiet times as much as on stage.


Make the Right Choices


Choices are an integral part of leading worship.  You need to choose the right songs, make sure they are in the right keys, and arrange them in the right way to inject genuine power into your leading.  I often choose songs that are in the same key, and make sure that they are within most people’s range, ensuring maximum involvement from your congregation.  I always try and select songs that most people are familiar with.


However, even if you choose the right songs that people know, arranging them is another challenge.  Growing as a worship leader should involve a fair amount of learning about song construction and arrangements, because powerful leading depends on maintaining a flow between songs, so that the worship experience resembles a journey towards the throne of God.


Learning How to Flowwith the Spirit


The longer I lead the more I understand that the Holy Spirit loves to surprise us!  When you first start learning your ministry, you tend to have a heavily scripted service planned.  That is, we will do this song this many times, then the chorus twice, etc.


Now please do not misunderstand me, I am not against planning.  It has been well said that failing to plan is planning to fail, but in my experience planning how to lead praise and worship to the tiniest detail can restrict the Holy Spirit, and people’s adventure of worship!


Plan, by all means, but do not lock yourself into a plan.  Always be free enough to hear from the Spirit and change mid-stream, and then you have the best of both worlds.  The best times I have ever had in worship involved the Spirit leading me in ways I did not expect, and this is an exciting way to develop your gift!


So if you want to learn how to lead praise and worship with genuine power, prepare your heart, choose songs wisely and always be ready to deviate from your scheduled plan!

Learning how to lead worship in a small group is often different to worship leading in a large group, yet it uses many of the same principles.  In fact, I recommend that young leaders learn how to lead worship in a small group first, before stepping out in front of the whole congregation only to find mistakes are being made.

The Advantage of How to Lead Worship in a Small Group

How to Lead WorshipThe big advantage of learning how to lead worship in a smaller group of people is that any mistakes you make are only among a small group.  will result in mistakes, wrong decisions and sometimes embarrassing moments, and it is far better for these to be done among a small group of people you know rather than a large group.

It is in this small group setting that you have the chance to try things, explore techniques and ideas and form close relationships between singers and musicians.  The penalty for one of these ideas backfiring is far less when you are before a small group rather than the entire church.

How to Lead Worship for Smaller Numbers of People

While many worship leading techniques are the for every size audience, there are some specific ideas you should think about as you learn how to lead worship to small groups.

Go For Intimacy:  I find that loud, rocky music which works well in a larger group frequently falls flat in a small group, where you most often have less instruments and no amplification.  When learning how to lead worship, I recommend doing one faster song maximum, or even skipping straight to the more personal, intimate worship songs.

Go for Flow:  In a small group, especially if you only have one or two guitars, flowing between songs, linking songs and generally creating a wonderful, deep, intimate and special atmosphere is easier than in a large group with lots of instruments and noise.

Learn How to Lead Worship with Integrity:  In a small group most people know you well, and so if your worship leading is performance orientated, or fake, they will see through you immediately.  If you lead honestly with integrity you will learn how to press into the Lord and truly lead others to a deeper walk with Him.

When you learn how to lead worship in a small group, much of the bravado of the big meeting falls away.  There are no sound checks, no amplifiers and no big band to manage.  It’s just you, a guitar or two and your small audience who knows you well, and this strips away a lot of the performance traits and exposes the real you!

Starting your worship leader career in a small group might seem to be wasting time, but in reality it is setting the foundation for a powerful and effective worship leader.  You can learn your style, explore new ideas and try new techniques without fear of major embarrassment and without the complications that big congregations bring.

Learning how to lead worship in a small group is a great place for a humble, powerful and mighty worship leading career to start!

Don’t get too emotional about it, but this worship leader podcast is about emotion inn  your worship leading… the good, the bad and the ugly.  If you have ever sat through an over the top emotional worship time, or a worship time completely devoid of any emotion, then you will gain real insight from this worship leader podcast.   The panel discuss the right amount of emotion, and you will be moved to tears… or completely unemotional, depending on the type of person you are!

Don’t Forget the Free Books with Worship Leader Podcast Tips

worship leading podcast worship leader podcast Also do not forget that we provide free e-books at our website. So if you are starting out and eager to learn some practical worship leader tips, between the worship leader pod and the free books you are sure to pick up info that can make you a greater worship leader, starting next Sunday. And yes, we have great teaching for everyone from worship directors and worship leaders to musicians, singers and even sound guys!!!! If you have not got your free books yet, click the hyperlink below. And feel free to leave feedback or e-mail us because we need to enjoy the journey along with you. I’m sure that a lot of you may have worship leading tips that you may share with others as well, so leaving feedback on the weblog will probably be there for everybody to learn and be blessed.

Click Right here for your Free Worship Leader Podcast Tips Ebooks

To start the Worship Leader Podcast, click on on the link on the bottom of this web page and let me know what you think! So may the Lord bless each of you and I look forward to sharing all these podcasts and worship leader tips in the forthcoming weeks and months as well.

Use this link to subscribe to the Praise and Worship Leader Podcast…



And CLICK HERE for the full list of Podcasts, so you can listen to them all!!!

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If you want to learn powerful worship leader tips, getting advice from experienced worship leaders could make all the difference in your presentation and effectiveness.  The problem is that many experienced leaders closely guard the worship leader tips that have made them successful, meaning that new leaders are often left struggling to find their way in their role, dealing with not only Sunday morning’s worship service but also with the intricacies of song arrangement, band dynamics and musical ideas.

The Hard Way to Learn Worship Leader Tips

Like most professions, there is an easy and a hard way to obtain the information you desire to improve your abilities.  One costs a small amount of money and the other is totally free,, and as you grow older and gain experience you begin to recognize that it is most often worth paying a small amount of money for something that helps you learn information quickly and effectively.

The hard way is also the “free” way, but unlike the freeway you drive on it is not the fastest way to learn.  It involves you spending hours and hours surfing the internet trying to find free information that is exactly what you need to lead worship more successfully.  If your time is worth anything, this is the hardest and least effective way to glean worship leader tips.

However, many people cannot afford to pay money to streamline their learning experience.  That is why we offer free worship leader tips in the form of some great ebooks, and also have a blog and a crazy but information filled podcast!  By listening and reading you can begin to gather worship leader tips, but it is not in any particular order or set up in a way that will help you to start applying the information.

The Easy way to Learn Worship Leader Tips

Worship Leader TipsFor a small outlay you can take the easy way of learning worship leader tips, which comes in a succinct, easy to understand and very easy to apply form.  This means that you do not need to spend hours and hours scouring the internet to obtain choice worship leader tips from people who have been leading worship for decades, in churches and at huge meetings all around the world.  The information is readily available and easy to understand and apply, meaning that you should see an improvement in your worship leading ability within a few days.

It also is usually extremely comprehensive, coving everything from band and team member management, song arrangements, song selections, sound, guitars, drums rosters, relationships to the pastor and a whole host of other areas that can make you into a world class worship leader!

Worship Leader Tips You Can Use This Sunday

The best and most effective worship leader tips are those that you can apply immediately, starting this Sunday.  This means that you do not need to spend hours researching, studying and trying to find some cool idea.  You can read one or two chapters and apply them at the first opportunity.  As you continue to apply this information you will see your worship leading transformed and you will become more and more effective for the Lord in your role.

So, if you are looking for an improvement in your worship leading keep your mind open to investing in your future, because with the right worship leader tips you can become a fantastic leader in your church!


how to lead worshipIf you are looking for ways to learn how to lead worship in three easy steps then this could be one of the most important articles you’ve ever read.  Leading worship in church is a responsible and respected position, but many times people who are inexperienced are thrown into the job, even though they do not know how to lead worship effectively.  So here are a few points on how to lead worship powerfully and effectively, especially if you are inexperienced.

How To Lead Worship Step 1: Prepare Your Material

The first step in learning how to lead is to prepare your material thoughtfully, carefully and most importantly prayerfully.  I cannot emphasize this point enough: if you want to learn how to lead worship in a powerful way that is well received by your audience, you must select your material carefully.

The best praise and worship songs to use, especially when you are learning how to lead praise and worship, are ones that people are familiar with.  This will of course very from church to church, but there are a number of great “standards” that people know and love and will immediately respond to.  Great praise and worship hymns such as “I Surrender All”, “How Great Thou Art” and “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” are often sure fire ways two great worship times, as are more modern songs such as “Shout to the Lord” or “How Great Is Our God.”

The thing to remember when you were learning is that praise and worship leading is more about your audience than it is about your preferences.  One of the biggest mistakes those learning how to lead make is they choose songs they liked that the congregation is unfamiliar with.  If you want to make a great impression lead worship with anointing and great favor, select songs that everybody knows!

Step 2: Prepare Your Worship Team

If you are starting out, you need to prepare your worship team so that they are 100% with you and supportive of what you were doing.  You need to spend time with them not only practicing and playing, but also enjoying coffee and laughs as you build a relationship that will be transferred into your praise and worship leading.

Make sure you spend time preparing your team in prayer, and also explaining to them why you were doing certain songs in the order you have chosen.  As you arrange the songs, try to include their ideas because there is great power in unity, and if you are learning you must also be learning how to lead men and women.

Step 3: Prepare Your Heart

The third area of learning how to lead worship is to prepare your own heart.  You need to spend time with the Lord if you are going to lead others into his presence, and that includes prayer and devotions, reading the word of God and seeking him as to which songs he wants to use in the worship time.

Of all the areas of preparation, if you are learning how to lead worship the most important is to prepare your own heart.  If you have seen in your life, confess it and get it out of the way.  If you have distractions in your life, deal with them and make sure they do not interfere with your mind or your heart as you come to lead worship.

I believe that if you take these three simple steps to heart, you will learn how to lead praise and worship in a powerful and effective way for your congregation.  Remember, you are not just learning how to do it but you are learning how to lead your team, prepare your hearts and direct your audience into a greater worship experience.

So when you have the opportunity, don’t just stand up and sing a series of songs but learn how to lead worship in a powerful, anointed and effective way.

Worship Team Training is a far more complex role than most worship leaders realize! They start off thinking that all they have to do is sing and the rest will follow, but over the years I have learned many things about worship team training and handling my musicians and singers. In creating and working with different worship teams I have also made hundreds of mistakes, most if which I do not want you to make when you are worship team training. I would like to share with you a couple of things I’ve been taught, in the hope that you’ll be able to duck these little bumps along your own journey.

Worship Team Training is More Than a Passion

worship team trainingWorship leading needs to be a passion for the worship leader, but for most of your band and singers and that is why worship team training is so essential.  However, you may be dispirited to find that they are not as passionate as you when it comes to your worship leading!

We must not forget the members of the worship groups are volunteers. I know there are some churches that have paid musicians and singers but ninety percent of us have volunteers. In that we must remember that while we must have a group of basic rules of our teams, we mustn’t be harsh in our worship leading policies.

Worship Team Training is More Than Rules

Here is what I mean by that. If your rules are too strict and or they are too controlling you will have trouble keeping volunteers, no matter how good your worship team training or how big the church. This is a mistake that I made early on and soon found out very quickly that a volunteers heart is to serve not be proscribed by a handful of rules. As I recall scripture has something to say about rules that are too stern. Are we going to act like Pharisees, or are we going to stand up and act like true worship leaders!

The best leaders lead by motivation, not by orders and rules. If you want the very best from your worship team training, become a worship leader of the highest order, and inspire the adulation and devotion of those you lead in your Worship Leading ministry.

Worship Team Training and Team Requirements

Another point to consider is that we have got to be open to changing to the requirements of the team. Remember this is a worship leading ministry. For instance, say your drummer just got a new job. And part of that job needs him to take some night classes. He still wants to be on the team but his classes happen to be on the booked walk through nights. He knows that he must rehearse as part of your worship team training to be on the team. What do you do?

Simply ask the remainder of the team if there is another night or time that they could meet. Almost all of the time you will be able to work something out for your worship team training. I have done this for many different situations. Whether it be childcare or job related or what ever. The point is this is a Worship Leading ministry. Adapt to the requirements of the people as long as it will not hinder or affect the worship team training or dynamics in a negative way.

Another common mistake many worship leaders is making worship team training too structured. Yes you want the band to be musically tight. And you have new songs you want to work on. But make sure you have fun too. Often the team just wants to fellowship awhile before worship team training or before you rehearse. Often you might want to jam together on a good chord progression for fun. As an important point I can see these jam sessions making the musicians tighter.

Again, helping your team enjoy worship team training and rehearsal is a key to having great dynamics within your team. We must never forget that. People must come before music. Don’t only get together for worship team training, rehearsals and the service. Do not simply rehearse and serve together, you need to play together also. Have parties. Go on barbecues. Have a games night or go out together. Simply put, have fun together away from the band setting and away from worship team training. Fellowship together. This is a superb way to get to know one another and to build friendships and trust.

Remember, all work and no play will make the singers and musicians stay away.  There is more to worship leading than worship team training, rehearsals and the service!

I am often asked advice on how to lead praise and worship with an inexperienced team.   If you want to learn how, you will have to face this one some day: the situation whereby you have to carry a member of your band or singers, for whatever reason, even though you know this will seriously affect your worship leading and the spirit of worship in the church that service.

how to lead praise and worshipThere are many facets to this problem, but the central fact is this: you can still be a great worship leader even if your band is imperfect, or even incompetent!

How to Lead Praise and Worship But Carry Some of Your Band!

If your church is anything like mine, you are not worship leading with seasoned professionals, you are dealing with amateurs, which means that you have to be a servant and coax them along with a spirit of love and tolerance. In my book on how to lead praise and worship, I teach that there is never a reason to speak down to these people, or to embarrass them. Your job as a praise worship leader is to encourage them, even if they are poor, even if they mess up the wonderful worship leading time you had planned. I believe that the Lord will honor you for this!

Most often these individuals are trying hard, and will be crushed if you convey that you are upset with them, so please be careful even with the way you look at other band members. Remember, if you have lots of talent but no love, you are only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal (1 Corinthians 13).  Just as you are always learning how to lead worship, so they can have a learning curve for their role too!

How to Lead Yet Carry These Guys?

There are ways and means of carrying an underachiever, but it is certainly easier in some parts of the band than others.

Singers are easy: Turn them off in the front of house with a quiet word to the sound man, but keep them in the foldback so they think they are singing. if they are actually off, turn them down a bit in the foldback.

Guitars: Similar to the above.

Bass: Much harder to hide, so I would suggest rather that you rewrite the music in a much simpler for, using basic notes with a minimum of changes per bar.

Drummers: This is the hardest. I have this situation now, and these are tough. I must say, inexperienced drummer have a habit of either slowing down in faster songs, or completely mixing up the kick and snare, so the snare is on beat one, and the kick beat two. in my church, you will often see me off mike calling out to the drummer, “the other one”, which means they have to change the kick and snare back!

The bottom line is, when you learn how to lead praise and worship and continue to serve and love with the right attitude, you will be able to bear with your less competent band members. I would chose simpler songs, even if you don’t want to. When I have one of these guys on, I will often change the songs I am doing to find something within their abilities.

Learning How to Bring the Best Out of Your Team

Finally, recognize that learning how to lead is about learning how to bring the best out of your team.  Pray and believe the Lord for an awesome worship time, even if it is not up to your standards! After all, when you are worship leading God is listening to your heart, not necessarily the quality of your music!

If you manage your team correctly, both the good and the bad members, the competent and the incompetent, then you will truly be learning not only how to lead praise and worship, but also how to lead men and women in godliness.