Sing to Him a new song. Play skillfully and shout for joy.
– Psalm 33:3.
As worship leaders and musicians, we are instructed to do everything we do with excellence and skill. The question we should as ourselves at the end of a weekend service is this: did I do my absolute best? If not, then what steps can I take so that the next time I ask that question, the answer can be ‘yes’.
When I approach a Sunday, I focus on three things in regards to excellence:
I try to learn (meaning memorize) the songs so well that I don’t really even have to think about the mechanics of playing and singing them. This allows me to do a couple things that are important. First of all, I can confidently play the parts to the best of my skill level with accuracy and consistency. In other words, fewer mistakes. I can sing the words without reading a monitor or wondering what the next line is. This allows me to free up mental energy which can then be directed toward more important things like reading the room, engaging with people, engaging with our Heavenly Father in worship.
Learning the songs like the back of your hand is very important as a worship leader or musician. We’ve talked about this a lot before here at Worship Tutorials, and I’m often surprised and saddened by the response. I’d like to encourage you in two ways: 1) You can memorize and learn songs, and 2) Try it for just one song and see how it feels. I think you’ll be surprised how much it frees you to worship.
The time between the songs
The next thing I approach when I think about a service is the times between the songs. What am I going to say to encourage people to engage in worship? Am I going to say anything?
I believe that we as worship leaders have a couple key moments in every service where the Holy Spirit moves, and it is our job to capitalize on that and speak into peoples’ lives and encourage them to worship. I like to look over the service order for the weekend and try to anticipate where some of those moments might be. When I have identified them, I like to think of a passage of scripture or a story, or even just a few words that I can say to lead people. It doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) a mini sermon, but preparing yourself for these moments will equip you to lead with excellence.
Finally I try to make sure I’ve done everything I can to allow my team to execute with excellence. This includes things like making sure they have songs lists and song resources weeks in advance. Making sure they are scheduled weeks (and months) in advance. Making sure I take time to provide and point toward resources for volunteers so they can improve their level of skill and leadership. This may be the most important piece – great leaders build great teams.
The bottom line is this: once we understand what it is we are actually doing when we lead worship – and who we are actually doing it for – doing anything less than our absolute best is really unacceptable. God demands the best we have to offer to Him. He is worthy of it, so I would encourage you to give it everything you have in every opportunity you are given.
Please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below.