"It doesn’t really matter, in my opinion, the form of worship or the structure of worship – What really matters is the reality of worship…Did worship occur?" (John Wimber)
Leading worship is amazing; to be given the responsibility of leading people into intimate moments with the living God, it’s such a blessing, but it can be quite daunting, it can also be frustrating, exhausting and even demoralizing. Leading worship is a call to humility. We have to respect and trust that God has called us to be a servant of his will, staying humble, selfless and always willing to learn
The role of the worship leader is to engage people with God. Think of it as trying to get everyone to forget who and what is around them; to get them to worship God as if no one else is around, and to encourage them to engage and build their own relationship with God. Nothing else should matter when people are in worship. It’s just you and God.
The most important thing you can do when leading worship, is worship God personally – become the lead worshipper. If you passionately worship God, then people will see that passion and be drawn into worship themselves. Your own worship and relationship with God will teach others how to worship.
It is really important that you are yourself, don’t try to be anyone else, don’t compare yourself to others, and don’t compete with them in your hearts. Do what God has called you to do; God has made you different for a reason. You have to be real, you have to be you!
“In reality the real worship leader should be the holy sprit. The Holy Spirit directs the worship through you, the worship leader – or the lead worshipper. You need to be open to what the spirit is doing so he can lead you in leading the people. Real worship is lead by the holy spirit” (Carl Tuttle)
As worship leaders, it is important that our hearts are in the right place. Worship is not expressed through a performance or through the songs you pick. But through a life that is devoted and pleasing to Jesus. If we don’t spend time with God throughout our whole lives, and leading worship is just something we do one day a week then it’s not a real and honest expression of our worship. Worship must be something continual, and we must be always looking to be holy and pure in the sight of God.
“Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of Gods mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship, do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12: 1 – 2)
Holiness, Godly character, remaining or spending time with God, is so important. The more time you spend with God, the more you will become like him, and the easier it will be to recognise his voice. God will really bless you in those times, increase you’re anointing and your heart for worship. God is always with us. God will be with your and working through you when you lead worship.
“Through Jesus, therefore let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of the lips that confess his name” (Hebrews 13: 15)
You can’t lead anyone into worship if you're not there yourself. It is essential that we worship on our own, when we’re not leading. It is so important to have our own time with God. Otherwise our relationship with him will suffer. In the times with God he will speak to us, guide us and ignite a passion for his name.
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4)
Leading worship is a time of serving the church, it can not replace your own personal time of worship, and you need to be able to receive somewhere. Otherwise you will dry up and burn out.
It is important that you worship God yourself when leading worship, but, you also must consider those you are leading, if you don’t they will not be able to engage with God also. Don’t get lost in your own world. Especially if you are in a different place emotionally and spiritually. If you feel down it’s not going to work picking mournful songs. Sometimes you may have to play songs you don’t like. But if you are serving the church you have to lay down all your pride, desires and agendas and God will bless you for it.
Check you heart and see why you are leading worship, make sure it’s not a selfish drive, check that it is not because you want to be in the light. God knows what is in your heart.
“For everyone that exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11)
The call for worship is a call to serve. It is not for exposure or satisfying the ego. Stay humble, on your face before the lord. “Even the son of man did not come to be served but to serve”.
Leading worship can be the most draining, tiring – both mentally and physically you may ever do. There may be times when you think you can’t do it, when you’re not worthy, but it’s through prayer that God raises us up and gives us the energy and strength to do things. So prayer is so important if not the most important thing before leading worship. Not just yourself praying but get others involved praying for you and your team and the people that God will touch.
There is nothing worse than feeling alone when your leading worship. Surround yourself with good people, people who you trust and people that you can turn to for help.
“The worship experience ought to be very sympathetic, very sensitive, conducted by people who are fully prepared by the Holy Spirit. One of the greatest and most important things a worship leader can do is spend time in intimate fellowship with the Lord – before they come to bring the church into worship" (John Wimber)
Pray for Gods spirit to come, pray for direction, and ask God what he wants you to do. Prepare your own heart, seek his face, open your heart to hear Gods voice. Pray that people’s relationship will be renewed. Pray that their lives will be changed. Pray that people will meet with him for the first time. Pray that people will be themselves with God and worship from their heart. Pray for freedom in worship. Pray for everything you can think of!
At times you may feel stressed and tired before leading worship. Try and prepare for leading worship the night before or the weeks before. Figure out what songs God wants you to use, pray before choosing songs, pray before rehearsing – basically cover yourself with prayer and let God be God.
God uses the broken hearted, remain in him, being in a continuous act of worship is the best way of freeing yourself. And don’t forget – there is always grace.
“The one who is in you, is greater than the one who is in the world” (John 4:4)
Often the worship can leave you feeling down, but don’t get down about any mistakes. It is never as bad as you think and everyone makes mistakes. If you feel down – then get someone to pray for you. It’s pretty common to feel this way. Often, even when you haven’t felt God at all – he has come really powerfully to the people.
Keep yourself in a humble state; always learning, always serving.
There is a lot to leading worship. Just because you have musical ability doesn’t mean that you will have worship leading skills, and on the other spectrum, just because you aren’t musical doesn’t mean you won’t be a fantastic worship leader. God gives us the gifts we need.
“The lord does not look at things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7)
However, being musical does help. The more skillful you are at your chosen instrument the more comfortable you will be leading worship. It also helps to draw people into worship more effectively. You need to be confident enough so that the people you are leading can trust you. If you have to think too much about playing the guitar or which chords to play then you’re not going to be able to worship God yourself and you won’t be able to lead people to God. It’ll make things a lot easier if you improve your skills. Play along with worship CD’s, other people and make sure you practise, make your gift an act of service to please God.
“Sing to him a new song, play skilfully and shout for joy” (Psalm 33:3)
Play through songs until you know them off by heart, words and music. Making mistakes, singing the wrong words isn’t a major thing but it may distract others from worship. If you make a mistake – just keep going, don’t pull faces or start talking just keep going. Most people won’t notice the odd bum note.
It is very helpful (to both you and your team) to have a song sheet made up of all the songs for when you’re leading worship. Even if you know all the songs off by heart, it is still useful to have them displayed in front of you, so you can refer to them if you need to.
Having a song sheet means you can be more flexible to what the spirit is doing, because it is easier to think of other songs when they are in front of you. God will talk to you when your leading and you might feel he is saying “sing this one” It’s really important to be open to what God’s direction is when leading worship. Remember, you are here to serve God and his people. If you feel God is speaking to you during the set, then obey him. Even if it interferes with your well prepared schedule.
Put more songs on the sheet than you intend to do, so that you can be flexible. Plus, just because you have made a really good list of songs one week – doesn’t mean it will have the same effect every time. So make up new list and in new orders and pray before picking songs.