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!

159- Serving but Frustrated

serving but frustratedLeading praise and worship might be your passion, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be serving but frustrated at some point!

Let’s be honest, we all get frustrated at times with the pastor, the worship director, your own team or even yourself!  What do you do when you get frustrated, and how do you process and deal with it in a way that isn’t blowing up and walking out, but also isn’t being walked all over.

Just Because you Have a Hear to Serve Does Not Mean You Won’t Get Frustrated!

This worship leader podcast is all about how you can serve, with a genuine and loving, servant’s heart, but how you can do it without being frustrated and even depressed by what happens.  We talk about our own experiences on how we are serving but frustrated, and how we have brought about change or even walked away on occasions, and the team discuss methods to help you be less frustrated with your leadership, or with your non-supportive team members.

All this is brought to you by a full worship leader podcast team, who love serving you but are trying hard not to frustrate you as well.  Grab a cuppa and a cookie and listen to a team dedicated to not just improving your serving but frustrated heart, but who can show you in practical ways how to do it!

And if you want more information about how you can be a better worship leader in your church, check out the University.  You don’t want to be serving but frustrated, you will want to be well trained and serving powerfully!

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!

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.

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.