How To Lead Worship In A Small Group

Last Update 9th October, 2016.

how to lead worship in a small groupProbably like you, I started my leading worship journey by leading worship in a small group.

I can still remember the very first time I ever led worship – I was terrified!

There were about fifteen of us all packed into someone’s living room.

I don’t know if I was showing it but inside I was panicking…

Once everyone arrived, our small group leader opened in prayer and have me the go-ahead nod.

My trembling hands clutched the neck of my little acoustic guitar so hard I thought it was going to break.

I somehow managed to strum my first G chord and kept my eyes closed while I tried to make it through the first verse.

I got into the chorus and started to feel brave enough to open my eyes.

I couldn’t believe it! Everybody was worshiping – I was amazed.

Since that first experience of leading worship in a small group, I’ve had the privilege of leading worship in many different venues – some very big, some very small.

I’ve led hundreds in worship at outdoor concerts in Bangkok, I’ve led worship worship at a children’s home in Rwanda and I’ve led worship in small groups in the UK.

And I have to say that leading worship in small groups is one of my favourite experiences – nothing beats the intimacy of a small group setting of people hungry for God all worshiping together.

I would like to think that over the years I have learned that leading people in praise and worship is much more than just playing a few chords and hoping for the'to lead worship training

In this post we will look at how to lead worship in small groups, including some practical pointers and further worship leader’s resources from Worship Rocket that will develop you further as a worship leader.

“The goal of worshiping in a small group is connection:

connecting with God and with one another.”

Before we get into the practical tips on how to lead worship in a small group, I should point out the obvious – worship is more than singing a couple of praise songs.

Biblical worship is more than music, it’s an expression of our love and faith in our Creator God, our good, good Father and it’s not limited to any soundtrack.

Of course there are many ways to worship God, including living a life of love to God, reading His Word, serving in our local church, demonstrating the love of Christ to everyone we meet.

However, one of the most common, most beautiful and most effective ways to worship together in a small group is through music.

“Music is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us. Martin Luther” [Tweet this]

Thanks for letting me say that.

Now let’s get to it.

Here are 8 practical tips on how to lead worship (with music) in a small church home group:

1. Be Caring without staring

Some people can sing beautifully and love to sing in worship, whilst others can feel awkward worshiping in a small home group.

It might be a challenge getting people who sing ‘less melodiously’ or who are more introvert-orientated engaged in worship.

Most people like to sing in the privacy of their own bathrooms where nobody will hear them.

Your role as a small group worship leader is to try and engage as many people as possible.

You can help people feel more at ease to sing by being friendly, relaxed and likable.

Avoid direct eye contact during worship – instead direct your gaze to God.

There’s nothing more awkward than a man singing “I love you more than words can say” whilst staring at another man standing just a few feet away.

Please use direct eye contact when you’re speaking to the group, just try not to make others feel awkward while singing during worship.

2. Use familiar songs and friendly keys

One of the most common questions I get asked about leading worship in small groups is, “Should I use a set list when leading or should I just go with the flow?”

My answer is, “Prepare a song list!”

Sometimes as worship leaders we use “going with the flow” as an excuse to be disorganised.

God is well-able to help you ahead of time to get your song list sorted. A good worship leader doesn’t just ‘wing it’, he prepares in advance and leads with confidence knowing where he or she is going next.

If the aim is to engage people in worship so that they connect with God – choose songs that are easy to learn and easy to sing.

Sometimes there are worship songs I love to listen to on loop for a month but that doesn’t mean they’re the best choice for your small church group.

Use songs that are group friendly: well liked and in sing-able keys. 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 in worship.

Don’t let too high a key be a barrier. The rule here is to remove all obstacles.

Fight to keep praise and worship sweet and simple. Less is more.

3. Sing brighter and strum lighter

As simple as this sounds, I still forget this sometimes…

There are times when I get so into worship that I can strum a guitar so ferociously in someone front living room that the guitar (or whichever instrument you happen to be playing) can drown out your voice and make it difficult in the group to follow.

worship2People follow voices!

So be careful not to drown out the voices with your guitar.

Instead, let the vocals lead and the instruments complement.

There’s a difference between loud and energetic.

The trick here is to get the balance right between being loud enough to help people feel, but not to loud that you lose them.

4. Plan your speaking and be brief

If you follow this point then you’ll be ahead of the game than over 90% of worship leaders.

What tends to happen most of the time, especially whilst leading worship in a small group is that we try to ad lib between songs.

We might say a prayer, or encourage the people in the group with some insight into what the song means – but most of the time we’re just making it up as we go along.

Speaking in between worship songs can really help people focus their faith and engage on a higher level but please plan what you’re going to say.

You could share interesting facts about the song: what the song means to you personally, read a verse from Psalms or pray a prayer, just know ahead of time what you’re going to say and please don’t talk for too long.

5. Focus on connecting, not performing

“When I worship, I would rather my heart be without words than my words be without heart.” [Tweet this]

Remember that the goal of leading worship in your small group is to help people connect with God; to help people to worship Him with all of their heart and encounter Him so they’ll be changed.

worshipTo be effective at leading others into God’s presence requires you not to just be a worship leader – but to be a worshiper leading other worshipers.

Your life must be consistent with the words you’re singing.

When you lead from a real place of heart-felt, life-given worship – people see it, notice it and will follow it.

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.

Let us never forget this.

6. Pray and play

Treat the songs that you’re singing to God as a form of prayer.

Don’t just play through your verse, chorus and bridge – pray them.

While we focus on our set list, God is focusing on our hearts. So help people break out of routine and respond to God in their singing.

The songs that you lead are tools you can use to help people talk to God so help people stay in that conversation with God during worship.

Approach worship leading as more of a prayer time than “special music” or a mini concert and I’ve said it already but it’s worth mentioning again: start from your secret place, lead worship from a heart of worship.

“Worship isn’t a feeling you wait for; it’s a choice you make. – Chris Tomlin” [Tweet this]

7. Invest and improve

As a worship leader, whether in a small group setting or in front of a wider church congregation, it’s vital that you always get better. The Bible says to “stir up the giftings that are hidden within you“.

This is why worship leader training is so important.

worship rocket modules

The Rocket Company has designed the most comprehensive worship leader training program available on the web called the Worship Rocket Core Coaching program.

It’s taught by Todd Fields who is the worship for Andy Stanley’s Northpoint Community Church.

Once you enroll onto the 12 month intensive training program you’ll get instant access to completed worship service tools and strategies that will help you deliver fresh worship services week after week that keep people locked in.

There’s 12 training modules which all include coaching videos, worksheets, mp3s as well as access to a community of leaders working through the material with you.


What you’ll get instant access to:

  1. Resource Vault – Download, share and deploy written coaching that will give you the systems you and your team need to grow your church. Receive unlimited access to our resource vault.
  1. Coaching Videos – Access world-class coaching by video inside every module so that you can grow your church with perfect clarity and understanding.
  1. Listening Guide – Receive audio coaching so you can access all the strategies, tactics, and growth resources while you are on the go in any environment.
  1. Members Forum – Get private, VIP access to a tribe of worship leaders just like you, who learn with you and help answer questions together.

I’ve been a VIP member since 2015 and I’m never leaving. You’ll usually find me hanging out in the member’s area.

I can recommend Worship Rocket because I’ve personally learned and applied so much from the training that has helped me become more effective and reach my potential as a worship leader.

Whether you want to go through the training personally, or lead your worship team through the course together – click here to try it out and start significantly improve the way you lead worship.

I’ll see you on the inside!

Do you have any tips on how to lead worship in a small group that you’d like to share?

Have any questions about Worship Rocket before you start your trial? Add your comments below and I’ll reply ASAP!

2 thoughts on “How To Lead Worship In A Small Group”

    • Thanks Denise! Just wanted to give some easy but practical steps for people starting to lead worship in a small group. There’s a lot of content out there about ‘why’ we do something but no so much on the actual ‘how’.

      It’s made my day to know you found this useful! All the best!


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