Leading a worship service in any setting is tough. I can’t sing to save my life, but somehow I got suckered into leading worship one time and it was terrifying. But I’ve sat in many different types and styles of worship services and want to offer some tips to help worship leaders connect with people in the congregation. It should go without saying that worship is supposed to be all about God. So I won’t address the spiritual side since that should be obvious. Here are some practical tips that might help you, especially if you’re new to leading worship.
Understanding your people
I realize a lot of worship leaders aren’t paid full-time and have to deal with jobs, family and other things throughout the week just like the rest of us. Even so, the people you’re leading are thinking and feeling a lot different from you throughout the week. You are probably already aware but we can always use reminders.
You: eat, sleep and breathe music, are up to date on the latest songs, hear all the covers from different artists and memorize the music and lyrics.
Us: most people like music, too, but not many are as up to date on the latest worship songs as you are. So be patient if we’re not as familiar or as excited about the songs. We’ll get there, especially the more the songs become familiar.
You: you’ve been listening to the songs on repeat, have them memorized, rehearsed multiple times, prayed through the lyrics and are touched and inspired by the message and the melody.
Us: we’ve spent our week with the various pressures and stresses of life and are lucky if we’ve had a few worship songs on the car radio or in the background while getting dinner together. We might need some help to “get into it.” And we want to, that’s why we look to you! Be patient with us.
Introducing new songs
Give us time. The first time you play a new song, you’re very familiar from memorizing, rehearsing and praying through it. We’re staring at the PowerPoint screen to figure out what the lyrics are, what the song is about, and to get a feel for it. You might want to take a moment to “teach” the song to us by playing the chorus once and guiding us in how to sing it, and then start.
Also, play it multiple weeks in a row. After a while, it will become familiar and could end up being our new favorite song. If you play it one week and don’t come back to it for a while, it may not get a chance to stick.
2 songs that should be included in every service
1. Something familiar – so people can close their eyes or not have to read the lyrics and can sing along a lot easier. It doesn’t have to be the song that’s popular now, it could be an old favorite from months or even years ago.
2. Something catchy – a lot of songs these days are endless prose; all verse and no chorus. The lyrics are beautiful but we stare at the screen reading them like a poem set to music. If a song like that is powerful and you want to include it, go for it. But please make sure you also play something we can sing along with. You may be sick of “How Great Is Our God” or “Blessed Be Your Name” but when you play something with an easy chorus, ever notice that just about everyone chimes in (and gets more passionate)?
More to come in my next post…