1. In your prayer time, ask God what He wants to say during the worship.
When choosing songs, 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. Lead every worship service as if it’s the greatest opportunity of your life!
Similar to preaching or teaching a message, there’s so much more to leading worship than just standing on the platform leading the congregation and a team of musicians. One thing I continually remind myself of as a worship leader is that I’m first singing to Jesus Christ, not to people. So as I prepare and practice, I do that “behind-the-scenes” part of it unto the Lord as well (see Colossians 3:23).
2. Use the Scriptures during worship.
The Bible is the foundation of our faith and should therefore not be neglected during worship. One great way to use the Scripture is at the beginning of the praise and worship segment to bring a word of encouragement to people. In doing this, you’re directing people’s attention to God and His Word. Their minds may be burdened and full of anxiety and care, but as they begin to look at Jesus, their focus is changed, and it’s easier to lead them into the presence of God in worship.
You can use the Bible to amplify the point or message of the song. Reading from God’s Word brings unity to the worship portion of the service. Even if people don’t know the particular song you’re singing, they can always relate to and connect with the Word of God.
3. Lead the people in worship.
When people come to church, they have a lot of things on their minds: paying bills, obtaining their basic needs, mending relationships, etc. For many, worshiping God is the furthest thing from their mind. 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,” or, “Let’s sing in other tongues.” No matter how great the worship is, people will not always do all of these things automatically. They need to be led.
4. Choose songs that are easy to sing.
Loud music, guitar riffs, and creative arrangements can be great, but if the music is too loud or there’s been too much arrangement that you can no longer focus on the words, the song becomes distracting. You simply can’t lead people into the presence of God if they can’t sing the songs. Therefore, the melody should be easy to sing — easy enough for everyone to participate in, not just those with an ear for music.
Even secular songs that hit the top of the charts are usually those that 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! Simply put, praise and worship should be sweet and simple. In this sense, “less is more.” And think about it: Songs with few words that are easy to sing can live for generations. So having easy melodies with as few words as possible should be what we strive for as we choose and write our worship music.
One ingredient found in songs that are easy to sing is a key that’s appropriate for a majority of the congregation — not too high or too low. As a worship leader, I don’t choose the key for myself — instead, I choose it for the people I’ll be ministering to and leading into worship and also for the back-vocals section of the band or choir.
A worship leader obviously must possess vocal talent, yet as he or she leads worship, it’s not about impressing the congregation with that talent. In fact, if the worship leader is the only person who can sing the songs at the right tempo and key, what was intended as a ministry to lead others into God’s presence becomes nothing more than a concert!
5. Honor the Holy Spirit and the pastor.
The worship leader has a lot on his plate. He must follow what God wants to do, honor the leadership of the pastor, and lead the musicians as well as the congregation in worship. There have been times when I've concentrated so completely on God that I actually missed out fulfilling all of my responsibilities as a leader. I’m a creative person, so sometimes I’m in the clouds! I lead worship in the youth services in our church as well as in one of the adult services. Once, A friend was leading worship i his for dad's church, and had his eyes closed — just worshiping God — while his Dad waited about ten minutes for him to “wake up” so he could take the pulpit and preach!
a worship leader must have a well-developed personal life of worship. However, when he’s leading worship, he must constantly be aware of what’s happening around him. That means he should never close his eyes for long periods of time in public worship. It’s possible 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.
So my friend said to me, Minister Davids, When my dad had to wait on me for such a long time before he could take the pulpit, it wasn't that my heart wasn't right. I was sincerely worshiping God, but I wasn't thinking about the worship I had been called on to lead. I was in my own world, so to speak, until Dad finally walked over, put his arms around me and whispered, “I've been waiting about ten minutes. Are you going to let me preach today?” I knew I had made a mistake, but being the wonderful father he is, Dad smoothed it all out by thanking me for leading worship and for my heart of worship before God.
I have a great father, who taught me how to honor the Holy Spirit as well as the pastor. The Bible teaches that we are to honor those who are in authority over us (see Hebrews 13:17). So if Dad — or any pastor I’m leading worship for — tells me not to sing a specific song, I won’t sing it, even if I like the song and want to sing it. I choose to submit to the authority given to the man or woman of God in charge of the service.
Unfortunately, churches often split because the pastor and the worship leader see things so differently. For example, a worship leader might think a particular song is anointed, but the pastor doesn't like the song. Maybe the song is too hard to sing or it doesn't follow the direction for the service — or for the church — that the pastor desires. Yes, the song may be anointed, but if the worship leader goes against the wishes of the pastor and sings it anyway, it will no longer be anointed because it is sung in an act of rebellion.
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