Last Update 11th October, 2016.
As worship leaders we have one of the greatest privileges.
Few things are more important than leading people into the presence of God.
A good worship leader can facilitate people having life-changing encounters with God.
Just as a good sermon doesn’t happen by accident, neither does good worship.
There are certain skills, attitudes and practices that can help you lead worship better.
Discover how to revive your worship services here.
In this post we’ll aim to share a few pointers and good worship leader resources that can help you to lead worship well.
1. The difference between preparing and not preparing is MASSIVE
Apart from knowing the songs and learning the lyrics, setting aside time to prepare my heart before God is the most important thing – it allows the Holy Spirit to speak, puts a verse on my heart, and gives me ideas.
Ask what God wants to say during worship.
“Setting aside time to prepare my heart before God is the most important thing…” [Tweet this]
2. The right set list
When putting together your set list, resist the temptation to select songs just based on their sound — whether they’re energetic or mellow.
Instead, ask God to give you a vision for what He wants to do in the worship service. Write it down and prepare for it just as seriously as you would if you were preaching the sermon.
Map out your songs and strive for a sense of dynamics – tension, release and build.
Run your song list by someone else – I always get a second eye to look over my list, just to make sure it’s the strongest and most relevant it can be.
This can mean you may need to tailor a song list to a specific service and then tweak it slightly for the next one.
3. Choose singable songs
The best songs are often easiest to learn.
Check out the songs at the top of the charts, chances are they have an easy melody and are easy to sing.
One simple rule is that if it takes the worship team an entire week to learn the words and music to a new song, the people in the congregation probably won’t pick it up in three to five minutes!
Fight to keep praise and worship sweet and simple. Less is more.
4. So high can’t get over it, so low cant get under it
Jesus’ love is so high and so low, but that doesn’t mean our songs have to be.
Choose keys that are appropriate for the majority of people in your church (men and women).
It’s easy to pick keys that best fit my vocal range but think about the people you’re trying to lead into worship.
Don’t let too high a key be a barrier for those trying to enter into worship.
5. Be a worship team leader
Treat everyone on your team as though they are worship leaders, because they are.
Your job as the worship team leader is bring the team with you.
Members of the worship team need to know that their opinion means something to the leader.
By asking the team’s opinion in a matter, you build trust and devotion among your team. You can also see who has potential to lead when you’re away or when God moves you to another position.
“Where there are many advisors, victory is sure.” (Proverbs 11:14).
6. Discriminate when you lead your worship team members
Every person you lead will need to be led differently.
The way you deal with one singer on your team may not work for another singer. Get to know your team members individually-what makes them tick, what they love, the dynamics their families and jobs bring to the equation.
Give extra time and grace to those who need it.
Your expectations and methods should be flexible enough to allow many types of personalities to coexist in your ministry.
7. Receive constructive feedback
Good worship leaders are always looking for ways to improve.
Find people who have been leading worship longer than you.
Ask for feedback: what went well? where are there opportunities for improvement?
I want to lead people the best way I can each time, plus I don’t know everything so I need to remain humble and teachable.
8. Better worship is not defined by how many musicians you have
The quality of the music and the size of the band have nothing to do with how “good” the worship is.
It’s how you utilise the people you have and create dynamic.
Sound quality (though pivotal) should not be your measuring stick of success, rather – are the people engaging in worship?
9. Be ready to have your say
Especially if you’re a co-worship leader.
When the senior worship leader asks you what you think of a song, idea, or moment – have something to contribute!
You could have a great idea that no one has thought of yet.
10. Don’t strive, but don’t step back either
Lead with the authority that has been given to you.
Yes, there is a spiritual weight to the platform, which includes the responsibility we have to lead people to Jesus, but lead confidently knowing you’ve been given the platform and entrusted by your pastors.
The job of a worship leader is to exhort and encourage people to turn their attention toward God where it needs to be — to bring honor to Him to whom honor is due and to prepare the way for Him to move in and on the behalf of people as He desires.
It’s okay to give direct, simple suggestions, such as, “Let’s raise our hands,” or, “Let’s close our eyes and concentrate on Christ and His cross”.
No matter how great the worship is, people will not always do all of these things automatically.
They need to be led.
(just don’t overdo it.)
11. Watch your pastor
A good worship leader knows the balance between worshiping God himself and leading others into worship. Remember you are there to support the pastor and follow his leading.
This means during a worship service, be aware of what’s happening around you.
Don’t close your eyes for too long.
It’s easy to get so caught up in worshiping God that you become unaware of your surroundings and miss your cues from the pastor and others who are involved in the service.
12. Don’t let the worship team become a clique
A good worship team is an integral part of the local church. Ensure your team stays connected in serving through the body. Avoid cliques and the appearance of loftiness by keeping them engaged in serving through the body.
13. Lead worship in the children’s ministry
If you can lead 8- to 10-year-olds in worship, you can lead adults.
Be prepared though—kids don’t mask their responses like adults do.
You’ll know right away when something you said went over their heads, or when a song doesn’t resonate with them. You might even hear one of them say out loud that a song is too fast or too high.
14. Don’t Let the Trends Dictate Direction
Age, styles, tempos, volumes, instruments-it’s all subject to change.
A good worship leader doesn’t get pigeonholed by trends.
Just because the latest and greatest worship song is a rocker doesn’t mean your congregation can no longer worship God with a favorite hymn. Authenticity beats any particular style or genre any day.
15. Be an instrument for the Holy Spirit
Good worship leaders don’t use worship leading as their moment to shine.
It’s not about you.
If it adds to the service and allows you to arrest the atmosphere, then do it; but if it takes away from Jesus and what your primary purpose is, leave it out.
God has assigned you as a worship leader to be His instrument to bring Heaven’s music to the people and to bring the people before His presence in worship.
And in that role, it’s important to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit so that He can flow freely during praise and worship.
Good worship leaders know this: If we depend solely on our music, it won’t be enough. If we’re looking to the music, we’ll barely go “ankle deep” in our worship of God and our experiencing His glory. But if we’ll look to God, we’ll go in over our heads! (Ezekiel 47:3-5.)
Our very lives are dependent on the Lord, and enough of Him is never enough!
We were made to know Him and love Him.
One of the ways we do that is through worship.
Our mission as good worship leaders is to assist others in this experience and to fulfill that assignment and calling with excellence.
“If it takes away from Jesus and what your primary purpose is, leave it out.” [Tweet this]
16. Get a good sound man!
Your sound man (or woman) can make you or break you.
So make sure that who ever mans that board knows what he is doing and how to do it – otherwise you will have bad mixes, feedback and that will mar the service.
Investing time and resources into the training of a good PA person will pay dividends.
17. Cue your team
Have you ever heard the expression, “He that thinketh he leadeth, and hath no one following, is only taking a walk.“?
Keep your team in the loop by letting them know where you’re going with the song.
You can give direction simply by the odd cuing word.
Bands I’ve led for a long time have learnt to read by body language so they know where I’m going next.
If you’re not playing guitar, using visual cues can be helpful.
1 finger = verse, 2 fingers = pre-chorus, 3 fingers = chorus, pinky = bridge.
I’ve been using these for years and they work well and are pretty inconspicuous.
I know some bands like Jesus Culture do a “C” with their hand for chorus, but personally I feel like that looks little awkward.
Whatever you decide, do everything to provide a clear lead.
18. You’ll have a train wreck and you’ll be okay
As prepared as you might be, sometimes things don’t always go to plan during a worship service.
A close friend and mentor told me this and a week later, I had a beauty! Don’t stress and don’t take yourself too seriously– it keeps you humble and you learn from it, plus they make for great stories to tell!
19. Have you heard yourself lately?
As worship leaders, we must continually develop ourselves vocally and musically and striving for excellence in worship.
As cringeworthy as this might be, on their mission to continually get better, good worship leaders watch/listen to themselves back.
You might be surprised to discover a nervous tick that you didn’t know you had.
Yes, it will probably make you self-conscious for a little while, but ultimately you’ll be a better, more polished worship leader as a result.
20. Be yourself.
You are unique and God speaks to each of us differently, so lead accordingly.
God has put something on your life, so lead from that place.
How you look as a good worship leader might not look the same as somebody else don’t worry about comparing yourself to others.
Understand that a good worship leader has to have a life of consistent and committed worship. Before you are a worship leader you are a child of God. Simple.
21. Good worship leaders are learners
Get some worship leader training.
Invest in yourself to be the best worship leader you can be and you’ll be reaping the rewards for years to come.
Read books on worship, attend worship and leadership conferences as you can.
The moment we think we know it all is the moment someone else will pass us by and walk through the door of opportunity that we were waiting for.
It’s taught by Todd Fields who is the worship for Andy Stanley’s Northpoint Community Church.
I can not recommend this highly enough if you want to develop into being a good worship leader.
Here’s what the training modules include:
You will learn about how to pick the right songs for your worship set, how to transition songs effectively, how to find the right people and build your worship team, including my personal favourite: how to get your congregation to actually engage and worship.
What do you think makes a good worship leader? Share your comments below