Worship 101: Basic Tips for Worship Leaders
By Todd Agnew
1. Get to know God in a deeper way.
Studying your Bible, prayer, everything you can do in your relationship with God will have a greater impact on your worship leading than the things you work on musically. As a worship leader, you are leading people to love God. So, the better you know Him, the easier it is for you to help them.
2. Remember that you cannot force anyone to worship.
I used to try to coerce, to mock, to drag people into the presence of God. But that doesn’t work. In its simplest form, worship is loving God. And you can’t force someone to fall in love. The most you can do is introduce them. So, in leading, we must lift up the person of Jesus and let Him woo His beloved into worship.
3. Don’t ramble.
In this current worship culture, worship leaders feel the need to talk, oftentimes talk a lot. But just remember, the pastor is about to preach a sermon that he/she has spent hours and hours preparing. They studied, edited, and crafted a message for their people. So don’t just talk for five minutes because a thought jumped into your brain. Your people were just singing a song, focused on the presence, might, mercy, and majesty of their Redeemer, and you are now distracting them from that. So you better have a really good reason for doing so.
4. Prepare. And be flexible.
Spend time studying the scripture passage. Pray over the service. Search your song database for the right songs. Don’t just play songs you like, or even just songs your people like. Plan out your whole service to the best of your ability. But when it’s time to go, listen. Listen to your congregation, to your band, and most importantly to the Spirit. Following the Spirit requires knowing His voice. And you’ll find that most of the time, the Spirit will have been with you in every stage of the planning.
Being spiritual shouldn’t mean being mediocre. Strive for excellence in what you do. Show grace to yourself and to others. But work hard.
6. Remember you are a servant, not a star.
As worship leaders, we serve. We serve God as worshipers. And we serve others as a leader. We are not intended to receive attention or glory. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be gracious when people are complimentary. It just should not be your goal. God’s plan is for Him to be glorified, not you. We can be a part of that as a worshiper ourselves, and by helping others in their worship journey.
7. Worship is a part of every moment, not just Sunday morning.
You probably know this already. We’ve taught on it a lot for the last few years. But I find it much easier to follow leaders who I have seen love God off the stage as well.
8. This is just the beginning.
You never know everything. This list is not comprehensive. It just has a few ideas I’ve found helpful and hopefully you will too. Every one of you could teach me something about worship, because your journey has been different than mine. Every worshiper you encounter has a valid and valuable opinion. You can learn from everyone. Sometimes they may share that opinion in an unkind way, but you can still receive it graciously.