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Advice to First Time or New Worship Leaders

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The first time – even the first year of leading worship – can seem scary. Things are a bit different from being asked to sing just a focus song or two…now, the fate of the entire worship service is in your hands, right? No pressure. Yep, we have all been there – and can all share our stories. I want to lay out five main areas that I feel every new worship leader should concentrate on to be as fruitful in their time of servitude as worship leader as possible.

1. Above all – spend your own time in worship to God.

Worship leaders – even veterans – miss this one all the time. If you do not currently have a set-aside time for worship to God that involves just you and God and no one else then don’t consider leading others in worship. I have found in my years of leading that this is the single-most essential thing that I do with worship…is worshiping God privately before I worship God corporate. Get alone in a room armed with nothing but your Bible (a physical one…no need to get distracted by notifications that you’re up next for a move on Words With Friends.), your common instrument to lead from, and you. Spend time in prayer…not just a quick prayer – a deep prayer. THANK God for the richness of your day. Ask Him to show you something about worship in your time that you weren’t aware of before. Then, spend some time in the Word. Find a scripture and meditate on it. Perhaps it is one that you heard earlier in the day and you need to go back and dwell on it a little. Perhaps it is simply opening the Bible and reading a random verse that was greeted by the breath of God in a not-so-random fashion. However you chose to do so….READ! Finally, spend some time offering songs to God. Don’t simply rehearse songs you want to do this weekend. Sing songs to Him – linger on each word knowing that they are a song of praise to Him. This is your quality time with God…make it quality!

2. Never ever ever put focus on being a performer.

I’m going to rub a few people wrong with this statement. Notice I did not say “You are NOT a performer!” You are. Let’s not get bent out of shape about it. Your pastor is a performer as well. Ever heard your pastor tell a joke or funny story in his sermon? Yep…he is performing. He knows that he needs to engage those emotions in order to keep his listener engaged. It doesn’t diminish his heart or the message. Now, if he delivered an invitation and riddled a story of the sacrifice on the cross with one-liners and jokes…we’d have a much different argument, right? Alas, your pastor likely doesn’t. Why? Because he doesn’t need to focus on that “performance” at such a crucial time. He knows when that “performance” factor is needed…and when it isn’t. He doesn’t put focus on being a performer. Neither should we. Don’t try to work against the Holy Spirit. I’ve seen plenty worship leaders who have moments of honesty in worship where the Spirit is just leading a congregation into a stir, the worship leader senses it, then the worship leader hopes to “make it even better” and starts a mini-sermon. Know that, as a worship leader, we are there to remove distractions and direct worship to God. No one becomes saved because we “sang really good” or because our song arrangements were awesome or because we urged our congregation to clap in every song. The Holy Spirit can use those things to work on the hearts of many…and a good worship leader always knows when to fade into the background and LET GOD MOVE.

3. Don’t over-analyze everything.

Yes, you are new – and no you will not be perfect. The sooner you can come to that conclusion the more time you can spend on other areas of your ministry instead of obsessing over the small things. I believe firmly in an evaluation meeting each week with worship leader and pastor to see what went wrong but also to champion what went right. Glaring issues there can and will be discussed. The fact that you were a little off pitch coming into the third verse, I can assure you, will not be. I’ve seen many young worship leaders worry about the smallest of details that no one else even noticed. Don’t sweat it…seriously.

4. Be continuously in awe.

Stand continuously amazed in the presence of God. Don’t lose a moment’s thought of “I can’t believe God allows me to serve Him!” Wake up each morning amazed by the fact that God gave you breath in two lungs that you didnt deserve…then exhale…and make a difference for His kingdom with each breath.

Above all, thanks for obeying a calling to join the Levites of God’s Kingdom to lead in worship of His Amazing name!

Ah…yes…I did say “five main areas…” right? So where’s the 5th one? Worship Leaders – it’s time for you to tell your secrets. What advice would YOU give to a new or first time worship leader? Chime in using the comments area below!