In a previous post, we covered some basic topics like the Personal Qualities of a Worship Leader. Now it’s time to cover how to lead worship.
What we want to talk about here is both the heart and mechanics of how to lead worship. What songs should I choose and why? What should a worship minister’s role to the team look like? Hopefully, you’ll find our tips to be practical and biblical so that you think more naturally not just about how to lead worship during a service, but what it means to be a worshiper along with your congregation.
Practical Advice on How To Lead Worship
Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD, my soul. I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. Psalm 146:1-2, NIV
Song selection is so important when considering how to lead worship for your congregation. When a worship minister seeks to serve God’s people, there is a song selection process which should be done thoughtfully. This process involves one being in a relationship with their creator through prayer, devotion, fasting, and intentional hearing.
Doing these tasks enables the leader to know how God desires to communicate with His people.
Song selection far exceeds what is on the Top 20 Hit lists or what the latest worship tune is. Song selection brings and involves an intimacy that gives hope, reveals God to us, heals us, engages, and produces true worship to God. When we worship in song, we should desire to “make a joyful noise” unto God with our whole being, give Him ourselves without restrictions and recognize that our worship happens daily.
Song Selection is for everyone, including the leaders. Songs can center on themes, liturgical calendar, or topics selected by the Senior Pastor, either way, it is essential to remember our worship is and should always be Christocentric.
It is essential that the objectives of the Kingdom be used as the standard and guide for spiritual, intelligent song selection.
The beauty of the melody and the lushness of the harmony are to draw attention to who the Lord is and what His will is for our lives individually and corporately. The musical elements are not to draw attention merely to the beauty of the songs, but to the Lord’s desire revealed in the songs.
The Lord wants His song placed on the hearts and minds of His people to serve as a constant reminder of His presence, power, strength, and love for them. It then becomes a form of meditation because we don’t seem to mind as much the repetition that is often present in a song beautifully written.
- We want songs that show the reality of the Kingdom of God, (many of the Psalms clearly portray the reality of the Kingdom and the King.)
- We must-have songs that are deeply rooted in the foundation of the truth of the Word of God, according to Colossians 3:16.
- We need songs that have been birthed out of the intimacy of the relationship spent in the presence of the Holy Spirit, according to Ephesians 5:17-19.
- We need songs that speak of the truth and wonder of God and the awesomeness of His character and nature.
- We need songs that speak the truth of who we are in Him and the glorious destiny that He has for us.
- We want to have songs in the church’s repertoire that support the preached/taught word that helps reinforce the spoken and sung word of God.
According to Deuteronomy 31:19-22, the Lord wants the song to be a witness and a covenant reminder to His people of what His revealed will is and what He requires of them.
How To Lead Worship Team Members
Leading is a calling that we answer in various and diverse forms. Learning how to lead worship involves leading and training a team.
The influence of a positive leader is powerful, impactful, meaningful, lasting, and creative while shaping indelible impressions on the lives of others. Can you recall when a leader had this impact on your life?
There was a beauty that was felt in your heart and the transformation of your life happening simultaneously.
The enhanced and enriched love of a positive leader has and continues to shape who you are as a team member.
The trace of a positive leader should be demonstrated through and by our team members. There should be passion that burns inside a team member by the energy and influence of positive leadership. The fire, zeal, and passion for positive leadership are contagious. There should be inspiration and motivation for all to enhance the vision of the ministry.
The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20, NIV informs us to “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
When leading a team, the leader should seek to develop and grow disciples who are Christ-centered and Christ-focused. When leaders demonstrate and exemplify the fruit of the Spirit as shared with us in Galatians 5:22-23, then the same is manifested in the team members.
Team members desire to know the leader cares about them, individually and as a collective body. Just as the shepherd left the ninety-nine sheep to go find the one lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7, NIV), leaders should strive to have the same passion, care, affection, and love for team members.
So in closing, what does it mean to lead team members? In simplistic form, here is what leaders should do and be to effectively lead a team.
- Have a humble heart after Christ
- Create disciples who have a heart of Christ
- Demonstrate fruit of the Spirit
- Care and be concerned about team members, individually and collectively
- Have zeal and compassion for all
- If at all possible, trained with biblical education
Coordination and Communication
This is an ongoing question for all parties involved in the corporate worship gathering.
There is no defined or outlined method for coordination and communication.
Today’s society has afforded and continues to provide various ways to coordinate and communicate. Here are some of the identified ways currently being used, but is not limited to these methods:
- Planning Center
- Text Message
- Direct Messages
- Messenger Group chat
- Facebook Group chat
Each of these methods can be utilized to coordinate and communicate with the pastor and media team, but there is one that will never be eliminated or avoided and that method is person-to-person dialogue.
When we utilize personal interaction to communicate it allows us to be intentional and sensitive to the needs of people. Personal interaction along with any of the methods listed above enforces and provides clarity for all team members. This eliminates miscommunication, confusion, and misunderstanding.
Personal interaction is often overlooked or avoided because the other methods are faster but often do not provide clarity or leave questions unanswered. As shared initially, there is no defined or definite outlined method, but the utilization of personal interaction and other methods are cohesive ways to coordinate and communicate with all persons involved in the corporate worship gathering.
Practice and Preparation
It depends on the individual leader and his or her team as to what schedule is most suitable.
However, there are some common elements that we will all use, such as:
- Sound Checks
- Rehearsal of songs (familiar and new songs)
- Debriefing from the last gathered worship time
- Instructions on the songs and the theme or purpose going into the next gathered worship
- Checking on the team members and any needs that they may have. Prayers and encouragements for team members.
- A time of devotion from a designated book of the Bible to feed and strengthen the members of the team.
It is good to send out communications on what songs are going to be rehearsed, so at the rehearsal time, we only need to play/sing it together and fix any difficulties or inconsistencies that we find. Doing the rehearsal this way saves a lot of time that can be used to care for the members of the team.
Any instructions on what the song is about and how best to minister it will also be in the message to all team members. Try to keep the team being led at least two weeks ahead on what the pastor is teaching and the songs that best support his message, as well as the songs that I sense that the Lord wants to be placed on the hearts of His people. The organization, communication, and implementation are important for the unity and effectiveness of the team.
Example of a Worship Service Format
We meet on a Sunday afternoon to rehearse and flow into the Blended/Contemporary worship service that we serve in.
We gather no later than 5:00 pm for a soundcheck and we go to 5:15 pm. We open in prayer acknowledging our need for the Lord’s help in being able to effectively minister to Him and His people.
Then our schedule continues like this:
- Rehearse song #1
- We go through the entire song and in so doing find out what we need to fix it so that it flows.
- Fix any trouble spots
- Run the song completely through again, hopefully with no stops or areas that need any special attention.
- Rehearse song #2
- Same as above
- Rehearse song #3
- Same as above
- Rehearse song #4
- Same as above
- Rehearse entire worship set from top to bottom, with transitions
After our final run-through, we will fix or talk through anything that we discovered that might need extra attention. Sometimes it can be helpful to simply go back through and just run your transitions between songs – those typically can be the more tricky areas, making sure everyone feels comfortable with how you’re getting from one song to the next.
Following our rehearsal, we then entrust it all into the hands of the Lord in prayer and wait upon the Lord.
We pray for the people of God that are on their way and ask the Lord to minister powerfully to them and bless their families. We end in prayer for one another and the giving of thanks to the Lord for His faithful care and grace that He imparts to us. We then, with expectant hearts, move from our rehearsal time into greeting the people of God who are by now gathering for the meeting to start.
During Worship Service
We implement the service flow and worship songs as previously planned and rehearsed. We continue to keep in mind that things may need to be altered or changed depending on the time given or even as the Lord moves among us and may direct us to a time of extended prayer or other worship form. Otherwise, we go through the service order with a continual openness to the Holy Spirit and a watchful heart on the congregation.
After Worship Service
Following each worship service, it is important to gather as a team. Maybe there were areas where the team wasn’t able to gel or tricky spots that might’ve needed more attention in rehearsal.
It’s good to do a type of check-in with your team to simply hear them out, hear how they felt the service went and then even take an opportunity to pray with your team if something came up for one of them during the service that they would like prayer for. This is yet another way to take care of your team, and make sure they feel valued and appreciated.
Some churches record their services, which provides a great way for you and your team to review the service at another time, and discuss anything that needs improvement, as well as pointing out things that are going well. There’s always room to grow, and you’ll be setting a great example of how to lead worship if you continue to have time for review/reflection.