In thousands of churches all across the world, worship leaders take center stage on Sunday morning. From the orchestra-conducting arm-waving song leaders, to the skinny-jean wearing, Christian tattoo-emblazoned guitarists, worship leaders take a variety of forms. The purpose is the same – to lead in worship. Here is some thoughtful advice for worship leaders.
1.Make worship your priority, not artistic perfection. We’ve become used to the fact that the “worship leader” is usually the most musical person around. They play the guitar, sing really well, and so they lead worship. The focus of worship, however is not the music, but the worship. Worship is more than music. As you lead in worship, keep in mind that the whole goal of your appearance in front of people is not to showcase your mad guitar skills, but to aid in corporate worship of the living God. You’re a worship leader. The emphasis is on worship.
2.It’s worship, not charades. Don’t ask people to perform certain routines like clapping, reaching, jumping, hands in the air, etc. You may have a certain idea of what good worship is all about, but it is not necessary to push people to do certain things or behave in certain ways. Sometimes, a demand that people “jump, jump, jump for the Lord” feels more awkward than it does worshipful.
3.Be sensitive to those who are sensitive to loud volume. One of the most common complaints about worship is that it’s too loud. Your church may have a certain culture and feel in worship. Loud music may be part of that. Just be careful. Some of us have tender vestibular systems.
4.Keep the dancing to a minimum. You may be the kind of person who loves to move with the music. There may be a place for worshipful dancing. As you guide people in worship, however, it may be best to limit your onstage movement. Your bouncing up and down may become a visual distraction.
5.Know what’s going to happen next. Because worship music is a team effort, it requires practice. Don’t climb up on the stage for worship expecting to wing it, or “let the Spirit lead.” Focus on order, and make sure everyone is on the same page. Mistakes will happen, but try to discourage that potential as much as you can. Practicing beforehand and knowing the order of service will help in that regard.
6.Pray for your ministry. If you remember just one of these tips, let it be this one: pray. Pray before worship. Pray during worship. Pray after worship. Bathe your ministry in prayer. Ask God for his guidance. Plead with God for his mercy. Pray, pray, pray.
7.Lead in worship, don’t showcase your own worship. Worship leaders often engage in spontaneous and heartfelt prayers in between songs, or speak phrases of affection and praise to God. Remember that you are leading in corporate worship – expressing the mutual prayer of the congregation. Your role is to help lead the church into worship. You’re not a worship display. You’re a worship leader.
8.Keep your eyes open. Are you an eye-closing kind of worship leader? Keep your eyes open as much as possible. It will help you and others as you worship together.
9.Be purposeful. Purposeful worship means that you focus upon praising God, and eliminate any distractions or waste of time. If you speak while leading worship, make sure that what you say is worth listening to. Avoid criticizing people for their lack of emotion or energy during worship. You have a single intention. Prayerfully focus on it.
Worship is important. Just read a few chapters from the Old Testament to see the priority God places upon right worship. You have an significant role; engage it with energy, reverence, and awe for your great God.