Nuts and Bolts for Worship Leaders
"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!" Psalm 133:1
"I saw Satan fall like lightning and land right in the worship band." II Fleshatonians 4:17
The following "nuts and bolts" are tidbits gleaned from working with worship teams in Calvary Chapels, Vineyards, and other Charismatic, alternative, non-denominational and traditional churches. These ranged in size from a dozen people to several thousands. The format consisted largely of a "praise band" setup similar to common rock bands. Lyrics were usually provided with projectors or song sheets. The worship leader was generally responsible for all activities for the first 20 - 60 minutes of the service.
Many of the things in this document are opinions influenced by personal style and preferences. There are many ways to do some things, these reflect what I have found that work best for myself. Also many of these suggestions will not be practical in very large or very small churches.
Maintain your personal walk with the Lord. Be prayed up before worship times and as a daily discipline. Be in prayer for the church, the church leadership, and the band. In a way, you are a shepherd to the band. Be an encourager to the band, your pastor, and the body.
Expect lots of spiritual warfare. The praises we raise to God are opposed to the purposes of hell. Worship leading is a high profile area as far as the enemy is concerned.
Be humble. Always give God the glory and beware of the praise of men.
Be prepared. Have your paper work ready before practices and services. Know who can and can't make it to practices. Know new songs as well as you can before you try to teach them to the band or congregation.
Maintain a strong relationship with your senior pastor. Support him and avoid any public criticism of him. Set a regular time to get together with him to discuss worship issues. In most pastor-led congregations, he is regarded as the main worship leader. Perhaps a meeting once every 3 months would be adequate.
Try to minimize surprises for the pastor. Let him know if you have anything out of the ordinary going on: another member of the band leading worship, a guest worship leader, a skit, special music, a change in the order of worship. If a potential band member has a questionable character, check with your pastor before letting them join the band / team.
Be careful to stay within the time limits set by the leadership. The pastor or teacher has worked hard to prepare a message and he does not need to feel rushed in giving it. We all lose track at times, but don't make it a habit. Glue a clock to the podium, music stand, or other easily visible place if necessary. Some churches are very flexible in this area and others are more regimented. Know your limits.
Don't do anything in the service when the normal church leadership is gone that you wouldn't do if they were there. However, when there is a guest speaker, check to see if he plans to speak for more or less time than the usual and adjust accordingly.
Sometimes pastors come up towards the end of the worship time and join with the leader and start singing. Although they may be trying to make a smooth flow into the teaching, it can actually be distracting. It seems to say "you are going too long". I generally prefer a clean break: the worship leader ends with a prayer, a greeting time, or just nods and lets the pastor know that the worship time is complete and "hands over" the service to the pastor or whoever.
Keep your ear to the ground to find other musicians in the fellowship and use them. Maintain a list of musicians in the fellowship, including the sound guys. Many activity leaders (home fellowship leaders, children's ministry, retreats, etc.) will ask you for musicians for various occasions, and it's good to keep track of the musicians in the fellowship. Know who plays what, how well they play, and if their walk is OK. For each person, keep their name, spouse name, address, phone number(s), instrument(s) played, and maybe even their birthday on the list.
Here is a sample phone list. Name field includes spouses name in brackets unless the spouse is a musician, in which case there is a slash separating the two names and an accompanying slash in the instrument field. This identifies which instrument is associated with which spouse. BD is the birthday field.
Church: 973-1234 Fax:789-1234 CHURCH MUSICIANS Last update: November 1, 2006
Anderson, Vin [Cheryl]
Horns, keyboard, vibes, percussion, sound, vocals
4353 Parker Rd
22 Oakton, #33
328 Bingham Ct.
vocals (solo: great soul/Amy Grant style mix)
Many churches use formal auditions to ferret out qualified musicians. This is the easiest way for leadership to look at the skill level of musicians. Yet auditions can be very cold, creating stress and fear of rejection. Instead consider some of these casual, low-key options to find musicians with the appropriate skill levels and styles:
§ Have prospective musicians come jam at a practice or hang out with them in a relaxed setting such as a potluck or during free-time at a retreat.
§ Consider doing a simple worship seminar or workshop, followed by a worship time and/or jam session.
§ Check with others currently involved with children's worship, home fellowships / home groups / cell groups, or other ministries.
It takes more work for the leaders to find good band members searching in this indirect manner, but this provides a relaxed, easy-going atmosphere that is more conducive to all involved.
Once you have run across some good prospects, have these potential band members substitute on occasions before giving them a full green light to join the band. Some people do great in just a jam session but freeze in public. You may also detect personality conflicts early on by having them substitute. However, some people may be very stiff at first and will eventually flow quite freely after they've jelled with the band.
There seem to be roughly two types of musicians common in many churches: those "classically" trained and those who "play be ear".
§ The classical types tend to be able to read anything you put in front of them, as long as it is fully scored music. However, many are weak at improvisation.
§ Those who play by ear do well with just a chord sheet, but may be caught in style ruts and may tend to play things in similar manners.
Although an amalgamation of these two does present trouble at times, it can also be a strength. When you can't quite get a part down right, the classical types are invaluable on setting things straight. The improvisers can come up with neat variations so that old songs become fresh. They are great at flexibility and taking anything you throw at them. Utilize the strengths of each type and encourage both types to grow in the abilities of the other side.
Avoid making the band overly complicated. Often fewer members are much easier to handle. Look for ways to use instrumentalists on vocals. It is wonderful when vocalists can play "solo" instruments (flute, sax, etc.) for instrumentals. Using husband/wife teams can also simplify things. If you are using two keyboards, make sure they don't play exactly the same thing, creating "mush". Ditto on guitar, although you might consider using a second 6 string guitar with "Nashville tuning" (strung using just the "high" strings from a 12-string guitar). 12-string guitars can be a bit too thick when you are using a full band. Also, avoid using more than one "chorused" instrument at a time: chorused guitar, electric piano or chorused synthesizer patch.
Be cautious, but not paranoid, at adding members. It isn't fun to give the boot to someone who really wants to stay in the band. Vocalists seem especially prone to getting their ego involved.
Include band member’s spouses however and whenever possible. If they are not musicians, perhaps they could help with sound, video projection, critiquing, etc. An occasional barbecue or potluck with the band and spouses is also a good idea.
Look for vocalists with a "natural" sound. These vocalists can support the melody and do harmonies that blend in well. Avoid strong vibrato vocalists. They may be great for solo performances, but their voices generally stick out and create distractions on a worship team.
Important: really have fun and make sure the band is having fun! Walk in the Spirit. Too many worship bands look like the members have spent the last half hour sucking on a lemon. This is especially important for vocalists - much of the congregation will be affected by the expression on their faces. Also, if a vocalist isn’t together, the sound team can always turn their mike down, but you can’t do anything about a grumpy face! Use humor and encouragement liberally and don't take yourself too seriously. Keep the main thing the main thing. We are here to worship and enjoy the Lord, and enjoy each other. If people want technical perfection, they can buy a worship CD. But the body wants to come to the feet of Jesus and worship Him freely and joyfully.
Try to have the band know the music so well they don’t need to have their heads buried in their music during service.
Encourage the band to be sensitive to know when to play and when not to play. A saxophone played continuously gets old. Some songs are better with just keyboards or just guitar, etc. Every musician doesn't need to play all the time. Oftentimes less is more.
Develop simple hand signals to indicate accapella sections, turn-arounds, changing monitor levels, etc. You could also develop signals with your pastor for when to go on with more music or stop.
Deal with disagreements in the band swiftly - try not to go on the stage with unresolved conflict.
Protect the band. Avoid gossip but do be sensitive if you see indications that their personal walk with the Lord is suffering. Be alert to any signs of immorality or drug abuse, it is not an uncommon problem with worship team members. Don't be afraid to have band members take a break from the team to get things straightened out. On the other hand, it may be therapeutic to retain a band member going through deep struggles. Be sensitive.
Know your church's dress standards for leadership. If women are not to wear shorts, tank tops, sleeveless shirts or to wear dresses, or guys are expected to wear ties, not wear hats, etc. make sure the band knows what is expected in this area. Also, if you desire a relaxed atmosphere, you may purposefully choose casual dress. A diversity of dress styles can also present a statement of "we accept all types of people in our fellowship". Someone said once that they wanted the worship time to feel like their family room, not their living room.
Protect your and the band's ears. Keep a "quiet" mix. Use a Plexiglas shield around the drums if you aren't using electronic drums. Being in close proximity to loud music week after week in practices and services will lead to deafness. In-the-ear monitors might also be a good choice. As a last resort, band members could use ear plugs but this would never work with worship leaders - they need to be sensitive to what's going on in the congregation.
Encourage the band to continue to develop their musical skills through lessons, classes, books, videos, or other challenges.
Look for opportunities to raise up new worship leaders from within the band. Give other band members a chance to lead worship on occasions. Some very good worship leaders need prodding to get them out front. Also, it is usually easier to use other members from the band to lead rather than a guest worship leader. The band members already know songs certain ways that the guest leader may not be able to adapt to in short notice. Don’t forget to let the pastor know if you will not be leading at the service.
Consider taking the band into other settings: prison outreaches, other churches, Christmas mall outreaches, retirement homes, etc.
Celebrate band member birthdays! Have someone in the band pick up a cake and a card.
It can be helpful to get together with individual band members outside of practices on an occasional basis. If they are of the same sex, you could go out to breakfast or meet for coffee. You could also go out with them and their spouse to dinner or invite them over to your house. This is a good time to get to know each other on a social level, to encourage them, and get feedback that may not be shared in a group setting. As mentioned earlier, it is fun to get the entire band and spouses together for a barbecue or potluck. You may also want to include the sound team and overhead team.
Take a picture of the entire band every year and give it to each band member.
THE SOUND TEAM
As the worship leader, you are ultimately responsible for sound reinforcement issues. Stubborn sound guys are not uncommon. Your sound team needs to respect your leadership.
Honor your sound team. Ask them about weaknesses of the band, and be prepared to receive their criticism! Ask their opinion when you have new people subbing in. Include the sound team in with the band during prayer times and practice times, if they are available. Give the sound team the encouragement and appreciation they deserve.
At least occasionally, and possibly weekly, have the sound team record the worship for you and the band to listen to later. Better yet, video record the service. You may discover distractions and annoyances you can avoid.
Keep a list of "standard" soundboard settings in the sound booth. This serves as a baseline to quickly set up the board. Adjustments are necessary due to the dynamic nature of most churches with multiple services, weddings, funerals, sticky fingers, etc.
Have your sound team give you a thorough education of the sound system configuration. Know how to get the monitors working. Better yet, know how to connect and use everything! Learn how to use the system well. Know the signal flow through the mikes, snakes, soundboard, equalizers, compressors, de-essers, amplifiers, and speakers. Know the power-on and power-off sequence of the board and amps. If you are doing a practice at the building without the sound team, you won't get stuck.
Have your sound team learn the hand signals you have agreed on. They should know when you want more overall monitors, or just vocals or an instrument. Encourage them to keep an eye on your hands.
Give your sound team a song list each week so they can anticipate when to adjust for that dim lights, bring the reverb down, cut off mikes, dim the lights, etc. Your sound team may also want the chord sheets to know when to adjust for that flute or guitar solo.
Maintain a master songbook of chord sheets or other music. Either:
§ Run copies (collate) of the songs you are using this week, or:
§ Make a copy of the entire book for other members in the band.
The advantages of making copies each week are:
§ It is exactly what the band is going to play.
§ The band doesn't have to dig through song books to find this week's songs.
§ The band doesn't need to remember to bring their books (if you use books, it may be best to store song books at the church).
§ There are fewer pages to deal with.
The advantages of using a master songbook are:
§ All songs are available to facilitate spontaneous selections.
§ Band members can write personal notes on the music they can use each time. Scored music or special arrangements for a certain instrument can be kept in the individual's book.
§ There is less copying required: only a song list is provided to each band member.
You may also want to make copies of the songs you intend to use and keep master books available for any last minute changes or spontaneous selections.
In general, try to keep under 100 songs in your master song book. Like clothes that never get worn, remove older, unused songs as time goes by. Don't pull the chord sheets out each week. Instead, include side alphabetical tab dividers to find the songs quickly. Use post-it stick-ons, sticking out the top, to mark the songs you will be using for the current service.
You may also want to make song sheets, without chords, for use in home fellowships based on your master song book. It is possible to fit 100 songs on 2 double-sided pages, although you may want to make a larger font copy available for those whose eye sight isn't as sharp.
If you are making chord sheets, consider:
§ Use only one song on a page. This makes it easier to alphabetically file. You can also change the order at the last minute.
§ Make sure you can read the song quite easily considering the lighting conditions and distances to the music stands.
§ If you do a song in multiple keys, keep all of these versions on the same sheet, separated by a horizontal line. This minimizes confusion as to which sheet to pull, you only pull one. It also makes modulations easier.
§ Use a “monospace” font, such as Courier or Lucida Console. It may be ugly, but it is a fixed width font available on just about every computer system and printer ever made. Any chords set above the lyrics won't "float around" if you change fonts, change printers, or even change computer operating systems, etc.
§ Place the chords at the precise start of the word where they are needed. Don't place the chord over the center of the word when the chord transition occurs at the start of the word. It is possible to convey a significant amount of timing information if you are consistent with chord placement.
§ Indent the chorus instead of marking "chorus" on the sheet.
§ When doing many verses, include the chords with each verse. This is redundant but it makes it easier for the musicians to play and especially play and sing. The one exception is if the whole song won't fit on a single page with all those chords.
§ Include comments about tricky parts where needed.
§ Use a smaller, bold font for instructions (INTRO, repeat, x3, END, etc.)
§ Use italics for ladies parts.
As a worship leader you are ultimately responsible for providing lyrics to the congregation. Most churches use a computer with software to display lyrics. Some still use overhead projectors. Some churches provide song sheets or a hymnal, which is a little more distracting to the congregation.
There are a number of software products for projection out there. PowerPoint is prevalent because Microsoft Office is on just about every PC out there. It is a good thing to learn unless you don’t think you will ever need to play outside of your own church. At least learn how to get a master template set up so that it looks good. But PowerPoint generally requires one to prepare the whole set at once instead of saving each song separately. It is hard to inject a spontaneous select without there being a disturbance, so if you are using PowerPoint, don’t count on the lyrics being available if you do any last minute changes in your set.
Make sure the band has the same lyrics as the congregation. This tends to become an issue when there are multiple worship teams in the same church doing the same songs slightly differently.
Make sure the lyrics can be clearly seen from every seat in the building. If you have any visual obstructions or problems with the edge seats, don't hesitate to run two projectors. Some churches are going to the widescreen 16 x 9 format to give more room to display lyrics. Whatever your equipment, it would be good to put together a test page of various font sizes to determine the smallest acceptable size to use. Likewise, you might do a test page to determine acceptable margins.
Learn how to make projection files. Get the original, published lyrics if available. (Note that it is illegal to change lyrics without the copyright owner’s permission. If you do not agree with how a line is worded, then don’t sing the song.) Use the whole overhead screen size if possible as this gives the brightest view. Use an easy to read font. Create a standard style and stick to it. For example I usually prefer a font such as Helvetica (Universal, Arial) 28 point bold. This will make it easy to read from the back of the room for those with less than keen eyesight. Left-justify the overheads, indent the chorus 2 spaces, remove extraneous punctuation marks. Don't use all caps. Use italics for ladies parts. Put the entire song on one transparency if possible. However, if a second sheet is needed, include any chorus on the second sheet to minimize flipping back and forth. Include the copyright information (if used) in a fine font on the bottom. You may also want to define your standards in black and white: Appendix B contains a sample of detailed instructions for whoever makes your slides.
It is good to have someone in charge of setting up people to run the projectors and training them.
Give the projectionist a printed song list each week.
Some skill is needed in operating the projector successfully. The projectionist must pay attention to what song is up, how far into the song we are, changes in the song list, or any other surprises. If they find any typos, make sure they give you a written note on what is wrong. Use Appendix C to develop your own instructions for those running the projector.
Invite the projectionist to pray with you before service if possible. Include them as part of the team during service times.
YOUR SONG LIST
Make song lists for all musicians, projectionist, and the sound team. Include the name of each song, the key(s) used, and note any irregularities, new songs, etc. You may also want to use this sheet as a memo to announce upcoming practices and other notes to band members. Use a large font so you can put the list on the floor and read it from there. That way you won't eat up valuable real estate on your music stand. See Appendix A for an example. Another nice twist is to put ALL the songs on a single sheet of 11" x 17" paper, double-sided.
See what songs people in the fellowship have written. Keep an eye out for new CD's. Collect various new songs and make a collection of potential new songs for your fellowship. Give copies to each band member and other interested worship leaders. Get input from others in the church. Share worship CD’s with each other that you enjoy.
Many churches choose songs that are popular on the radio. Keep in mind that the playlists on Christian radio (CCM) are developed from focus groups of women in their 40’s (they are the ones that give the greatest financial support to Christian radio stations). They tend to choose the very familiar when they listen to 30 second clips of songs. This may not be the best way to determine what songs are used in our worship.
Selecting new songs: ask others what they think of new songs you want to introduce. Include your pastor and the band in this process. There may be songs you like that don't have general appeal or may not be appropriate for some reason. Including other people in the decision making process can be helpful in preventing dissension as well.
Many of us have a tendency to want to share new songs prematurely, before they are really "burned into" our hearts. Resist this urge and sit on the song at least a good week so that you really know the song well: have the melody right, the chords right, and a good understanding of the meaning of the song. Look up Scriptures that may go with it.
Developing your song list: be creative. Keep variety in worship. Try not to be so predictable everyone knows exactly what is next. Keep a balance between the unpredictable / spontaneous and the familiar. Keep a balance between newer material and very familiar songs. Try to be sensitive to the whole body and incorporate diverse styles. Use hymns occasionally. Sort of like radio's "top forty", draw from a set of songs you and the band know well. Don't be afraid to hit the extremes: maybe start with celebration songs and really hoop it up and enjoy our relationship with Him and enjoy His victory. Then don't be afraid to be intimate with the Lord, to sing ballads to Him. Don't just sing songs ABOUT the Lord but TO the Lord. Bathe your selection process with prayer. Listen to how the Spirit leads. Don't choose the popular over what God is telling you.
Watch your flow: don't go fast, then slow, then fast, then slow, etc. You may want to do a set of upbeat songs and break it with a greeting time and then do some mellow songs. Sometimes ending a mellow set with an upbeat song is appropriate. Do the themes of the songs flow into each other? Personally play through the whole list, start to finish, beforehand.
§ Most "performance" keys tend to be too high for most groups. Consider lowering the key 2 or 3 half steps. Some worship books have the keys already lowered while others do not. Try to strike a balance: in high keys the band vocalists may sound better, but the congregation drops out. In low keys, many songs lose their punch sung down in the mud. Also, the best key to sing a song in can change due to a number of factors. It is generally easier to sing in a higher key: later in the day than earlier in the morning, standing up verses sitting down, and after voices are warmed up.
§ I don't include a high key song at the very beginning of a set, although some worship leaders purposefully make people stretch on a higher key to wake them up!
§ Although modulations to higher keys are quite common, sometimes I start a song in a high key for just one time through and then drop it to a lower key. This way the congregation has to stretch a little at the start but are able to sing the song for quite a while in the lower key.
A greeting time can be an important to setting a "friendly tone" during worship. We are not worshipping around strangers but a family interrelated through the Son. The greeting time is also a good time to make a major change in tempo or theme flow.
New songs: introducing about one new song a month seems to work pretty well. Avoid doing more than one new song per worship service. Plan to use a new song for 3 weeks in a row and then let it rest for a week. Whenever you do a new song, realize there is a "hit" against people being able to enter in to worship. "Sandwich" newer songs between very familiar songs. Share something meaningful about a new song before singing it.
Make sure guest worship leaders are familiar with the repertoire of the congregation. This prevents them from doing a lot of unfamiliar songs. Keep a master list of songs the congregation knows. You can keep this list in your master song book and with your overheads, to help the overhead people quickly find a song. You could also include alternate titles and first lines of songs on this list.
Be sensitive to changing the song list at the last minute: some band members are very flexible with spontaneous changes in the list while others are rattled by any last-minute changes. If you know about changes before the service starts, notify the projectionist.
You may also want to consider special use songs. Throw in some Christmas songs for the holiday season, and patriotic songs for the Fourth of July. Use special music songs for soloists on occasion, evangelistic or outreach songs as appropriate, and "concert style" songs.
Keep a record of songs you have done. This can be helpful to prevent burning out a song. It is also useful so guest or substitute worship leaders can know what songs the church knows. Just keep a copy of each week's song list. If you are using a computer to generate the song list, just add each week’s new song list to a new page in the same file.
Consider the band member's work schedules and child care needs when setting practice times.
§ Plan a 3 hour practice on Saturdays: 2 hours for instrumentalists, 2 hours for vocalists, with a 1 hour overlap between the two.
§ Plan an evening for rehearsal. For the first part of rehearsal, let the band and vocalist rehearse separate, then bring them together for polishing.
§ Another approach is to make your practice time almost like a home fellowship: spend a couple of hours together weekly, with prayer, worship, Bible teaching, and sharing as well. Spending this much time together, the band may get very tight, but sometimes at the expense of the spouses not being included.
Learning new songs: be prepared when you teach new songs:
§ Make sure you know the song well. Try to be as accurate as possible when teaching new songs. Learn both the lyrics and melody of the song as close as possible to the original.
§ If possible, give all band members a tape/CD with the new song(s) a few weeks before you practice the song. This allows them to "soak" on it for a while.
§ Have the scored music available if possible. Have original written music available if you can find it. Consider getting music books from all the sources that you pull songs from, e.g. a good hymnal, song books, etc.
§ Make out chord sheets for the new song. Going through this process helps define exactly how many verses, choruses, etc. you plan to do.
§ Make sure you bring a recording of the song to practice to clarify any questions.
§ As mentioned earlier, avoid working out a new song and doing it immediately after the band learns it. Ideally, wait at least a week or so. Band members need time to practice difficult parts at home and absorb the song as fully as possible.
Practice time is very valuable, don’t waste it. As a worship leader, always be prepared and avoid dead time.
My typical pre-service activities:
§ Spend some personal time in worship and prayer.
§ Make sure all band members have written music.
§ Check that you have overheads for all songs on your song list.
§ Make sure all band members, overhead(s), and sound team have a song list (this includes a sequence of song titles, keys, breaks, and any special instructions).
§ The rest of the band arrives. Setup instruments and tune (allow 15 minutes assuming the sound team already has the system up; this means the sound team should have a functioning system 1 hour before service starts).
§ Run through the entire list just before the service. You don't need to play each verse. This usually takes about 45 minutes.
§ Pray together as a band. You may want to include the sound team and projectionist.
Be sure to start on time, or even a couple of minutes early. Likewise, be sure to end on time. Don't eat up a pastor's teaching time. It's often better to end on the early side, especially if things are not going well.
Make sure all the instruments are in tune. Often if you tune before you warm up, you need to tune again just before worship because of changes in the building temperature or stretched guitar strings.
If you leave the stage to pray beforehand, make sure the whole band sticks together and goes on stage at the same time. Likewise, leave the stage at the same time. Stragglers add distractions.
Avoid bringing excess attention to yourself, especially once worship starts. Don't flail your arms around as if you are conducting an orchestra. Minimize any personal nuisances that could distract people. Make sure you and the band members aren't chewing gum. Usher the flock into the King's presence and fade out.
Work at sharing from the Word and your life before you do a song, especially a new song. Explain non-obvious terms in the song. Look for ways to drive home the meaning of songs. Don't share before every song and do keep it short. Don't use it as an opportunity to preach.
Minimize dead-time. Set a vocalist near the leader to do any page turning needed. If you need to change the tuning on your guitar or change instruments, plan to do it during a break (greeting time) or Scripture reading. When you intend to have a time of silence, let people know what you are doing "Let's just wait on the Lord for a few minutes now."
Variety in worship can keep worship fresh. Consider:
§ singing accapella;
§ starting a song in the middle of the chorus or the middle of the verse instead of the beginning.
§ changing the dynamics;
§ coming back to a song done earlier in the set;
§ Scripture readings during instrumentals;
§ prayer during instrumentals;
§ having just the ladies or men sing (considered dated and cheesy by some now)
§ starting a song very slow and then speeding it up (can be hard to pull off without a very good drummer)
§ taking a familiar major key song and doing it in a minor key or major 7th key.
§ holding a single chord through the whole song one time through - a little bit erie but kind of cool.
You may want to do "unplugged" acoustic worship times. You may also want to do a season of simpler worship, especially if it seems the band is getting dry or major conflict is going on. Guest musicians can also add a little variety and spice.
If you are dealing with a certain theme in worship, you may want to pick several scriptures and have different people from the band or the congregation read them during an instrumental.
Be sensitive to give verbal cues for the congregation and overhead people. Say or sing the next verse, whether to stand or sit, etc.
Keep away from a "performance mentality". Keep in mind we are worshipping the living God, not trying to entertain His bride. It doesn't hurt to keep in mind the scene in Revelation Chapter 4 while you worship. Think of the angels joining in with you, even assisting you in worship. Be natural and real, not "churchy".
Try not to worry about anything but instead enjoy the Lord as you worship. Take care of all your "busyness" beforehand and relax and worship. People can tell if you aren't totally into it. The best way to lead worship is to really worship - you can't lead people to the Throne if you aren't there yourself.
On a personal note, I struggle more with worshipping in my quiet times than in public. In private, I am tempted to think of how the song I am singing or the technique I am using would go over in the big meeting. Yet some of my best times of worship are in the big meeting because I know it is best to ignore the people and just enjoy the Lord myself! And even when there is a tough night and the people aren't getting into it, sometimes I find myself saying, "I don't care if the people aren't with me. At least I'm going to worship Him right now, even if they don't want to." If just one is truly worshipping, that has to be pleasing to God. But usually the sheep will eventually follow if the worship leader is really worshipping.
As a leader, you should really lead: be strong and decisive. Start by singing slightly ahead of others. Give directions as needed. Once people are "entering in", feel free to back off from the microphone and let the people worship the Lord without being distracted by yourself.
Get others praying for the worship and teaching in a separate room during the service, if possible.
Keep the stage clean. If possible, lay cables horizontally or vertically across the stage, not diagonally. Beware of items that could be tripped over.
Be involved in planning the design and layout of the church stage. Include plenty of power, signal lines, and monitor returns in the design. Consider acoustics. Encourage leadership to get advice from professional audio consultants when planning major changes. Do it right the first time.
Lighting: consider dimming the lights during the worship time, and turning them up for greeting and teaching times. Don't blind people by turning the lights up too quickly. Make sure the band can see their written music well. Also, make sure the band isn't blinding the congregation with their music stand lights (I prefer the "fixed" setting music stand lights as opposed to the swivel types - this prevents this type of distraction). Avoid using harsh florescent lights during worship. Use incandescent lighting with dimmers if possible.
Make sure you have access to resources you may need such as copy machine, computer and printer, alarm codes, thermostat, keys to the church auditorium and office, etc.
There is a tendency to get more and more involved in the needs of your own church and not look outside. Growing companies tend to spend 3-5% of their budget on research and development. Do a little "research and development" of your own along the way: visit other churches known for having good worship teams occasionally and take notes. Talk to the worship leaders and sound teams in other churches. Ask about technique, songs, equipment, etc. Most worship leaders love sharing their "discoveries"! Check out worship leading books, magazines, seminars, instructional videos, and of course the web.
§ "Exploring Worship" by Bob Sorge An excellent resource for both inspirational and technical aspects of worship. From a somewhat charismatic background but a very deep and well thought out presentation.
§ "Real Worship" by Warren Wiersbe. A good book covering the inspirational side of worship.
§ Judson Cornwell has some good inspirational books on worship.
§ "Keys to Becoming an Effective Worship Leader", "Developing an Effective Worship Ministry" and "Things They Didn't Teach Me in Worship Leading School" by Tom Kraeuter.
§ "Spiritual Leadership" by Oswald Saunders. Though not a worship leading book, a great book on being a leader.
Although all these details can seem a little overwhelming at first, managing a worship band can be a great joy. Just as driving a car can seem very complicated at first and eventually be second nature, so leading worship can become a very simple thing. I welcome your comments, especially via email. May you continue to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord as you know Him better through worship, His Word, and serving Him with your all.
(c) 1998 Roy Osborn, updated 2006 RoyAOsborn@hotmail.com Copy freely for non-profit use only.
APPENDIX A: Here is a sample song list for the musicians, overhead people, and sound team. Note the font is large enough to read even if the list is placed on the floor. This is a very complicated list - usually it is much simpler.
Wednesday Worship - November 16
O' Lord I Thank You (G)
Warrior King (G)
Open The Doors (A)
Jesus Is Lord (G--->A)
Special Music: Lance & Dana
Teacher: Elder Norm Walker
Search My Heart (C)
Blood Of Jesus Cover Me (C)
Next Music Practice: Saturday December 3
APPENDIX B: Here are detailed instructions for whoever creates your lyric projections.
LYRIC PROJECTION STYLE GUIDE
An easy to read, easy to follow lyric projection means less distractions to the body. Consistent styles and formats help communicate the lyrics better. These guidelines are meant to be helpful in creating song projections.
§ Figure out the maximum size of the projection that can be used and use it!
§ Do your best trying to find the original source of the song. This prevents mistakes from being made that alter the author’s original intention. It also helps provide greater consistency between different fellowships.
§ Use an easy to read font such as Helvetica Bold.
§ Left justify all text.
§ Make the title Underlined and Bold and ALL CAPS.
§ Include Scriptural reference, author's name and copyright information in a "fine" font at the bottom. Using an unbolded 10 point font may be a good choice.
§ Do NOT use ALL CAPS for lyrics. Use an upper/lower case mix.
§ Capitalize the first letter of all references to God ("You, Your, Thee, etc.).
§ Remove "extraneous" punctuation: commas, periods, semi-colons, etc. at the end of the lines.
§ Capitalize the first letter of every line.
§ Use an INDENT (or a couple of spaces) to identify the songs's chorus, if any. Do not mark as "chorus".
§ Use italics for ladies parts. Don’t mark the overhead with "Ladies:..."
§ Indicate repeated sections using a "small", unbolded font at the end of the line/ section to be repeated, e.g. (repeat) or (x4).
§ Use one blank line between title and start of song. Use one blank line between chorus and verses. One blank line between each verse. One blank line between song and author information.
§ Include just the minimal amount of information - no need to specify to "repeat chorus twice then bridge", etc. Do not include song ending changes unless absolutely necessary.
§ Save the file with the “official” title name. You may also want to create a shortcut to it with the first line of the song.
§ You may want to keep an index of all the songs you have files for. You could also include the first line of each song to make it easy to find a song quickly.
Thanks for your help!
APPENDIX C: Here are detailed instructions for those who run the projections.
VIDEO PROJECTION GUIDELINES
Video projection provides lyrics to songs so that those unfamiliar with them can easily join along in a song, without the distraction of having to turn pages and look for a song.
§ Make sure the projectors are warmed up and the PC is on the first slide before the service begins.
§ Note any slides that have typos. Give a written note to the one responsible for making new slides.
§ Some worship leaders prefer if you don't display a slide until the song actually begins. This reduces confusion when the song list changes. If you are certain of a song by it's intro, go ahead and put it up. Other worship leaders prefer to have the next song up as early as possible, especially if they stick pretty close to the song list. Check with the worship leader to ask for his preference.
§ There is a tendency for people to become "dependant" on lyric projection. On extended repetitions of a song, especially a very familiar song, feel free to turn off the projectors after it has been sung once. This encourages people to close their eyes and focus more on the Lord. It also helps people to learn the lyrics well.
§ It may be helpful to put announcements up before service.
§ Check that you have a spare light bulb available at all times.
§ The projector air filter should be cleaned every 6 months or so.
Thanks for your help with these. If you have any other suggestions to be added, please let us know. Thanks for your service to the body in helping them enter into worship!