Practical Tips for Worship Leaders – part 2

My previous post, found here, discussed some practical tips for worship leaders.  The post was getting too long so I broke it up.  Here is the rest.

Shake it up:

Most churches have a certain style and format.  But now and then, it’s nice to change it up and do something interesting.  Some different things you can try to keep from becoming stale:

Switch lead instrument; swap piano for guitar or vice versa

Do an all acoustic set.  Have the whole band unplug or have just one person and a guitar/piano.

Add a different genre of music.

Use special songs or solos from talent in your congregation or worship team.

Incorporate video, dance or other accompaniments.

Do an occasional song a capella.

Sing an old hymn, or a song from 5+ years ago.   Bonus points for changing up the music to make it current (this has been a trend for several years now).

Talent and “perfection”

I live in Nashville, TN where it’s very difficult for people on worship teams to balance the spiritual and the performance aspect. No matter where you are, you may face similar challenges.  There may be other musicians in the congregation, but us regular folks probably won’t notice a missed chord, a bad note, or if it sounds “pitchy.”  We can’t sing or play and you are infinitely more talented than us.  You want to do everything with excellence, but you can also relax and realize the heart is what matters most.

Some other tips

Vocal runs – please use these sparingly.  You’re not auditioning for American Idol.  When you go away from the melody and lyrics and do your own thing, you lose us.  Remember, we’re following you.  Sometimes it works, especially if the song is familiar and we can sing it on our own.  Still, it can confuse or distract us so try to keep it to a minimum.  That goes for the backup singers, too.  You don’t have to fill every space between lyrics trying to sound like Christina Aguilera.

Stepping back to let the audience sing – do you ever notice, unless it’s a familiar song and the crowd is really into it, that when you stop singing and want to hear the crowd, we get quieter?   Some people who don’t have good singing voices don’t want others around them to hear.  So people keep singing out of obligation but quiet down and the song can lose momentum.  Sometimes it’s powerful to quiet the music and just hear a crowd of voices.  But you know your crowd.  Are they the type that will keep singing passionately?  Or will that make them quiet down?  Think about how you want those types of moments to play out.

Finally, some songs just don’t “stick.”  Some new songs will fall flat and people won’t be into them.  Some weeks, the mood or vibe might not be what you wanted.  Sometimes it might be a good idea to shake things up by stopping to sing a capella, go off script and play an old favorite that wasn’t planned, or simply stop and pray and then start again.  People are forgiving and sometimes a moment like that actually ends up inspiring people to get into it more.



About Scott Phillips

Topics may include faith, relationships, marriage, being a Dad, movies, whisky & bourbon, beards, career, movies, fall weather, being independent politically, travel and anything random. View all posts by Scott Phillips

2 responses to “Practical Tips for Worship Leaders – part 2

  • Jamie Kocur

    “…you can also relax and realize the heart is what matters most.” I forget this too often and feel like the congregation is judging me. Probably because that’s what I’m sometimes doing in the audience. *sheepish grin*

    “Vocal runs – please use these sparingly. You’re not auditioning for American Idol. ” AMEN. This is one of my biggest pet peeves in worship. I am a trained vocalist and I try my hardest to keep my singing simple because I know how it drives me crazy.

    One thing about going “off script;” it’s a really good way to make enemies in the sound booth. I’ve done the power point slides and it’s really frustrating when everyone turns around because you don’t have the right slide up. all because the worship leader decided to be “led by the Spirit.” :)

    Do you mind if I link to your blogs from my blog? I write a blog about worship, and I’m always looking for articles/blogs/ideas to link to.

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