Here are several helpful tips for learning how to be an effective worship leader that is beneficial to your faith family!
1) FIND A MENTOR
Know that every step along the way, we all have room to learn and grow. There is no such thing as a worship leader who is perfect in every aspect. There is no HUMAN who is perfect in every aspect!
Whatever instrument you play, whatever style you sing, you need to be influenced by those in your life who have more experience and more skill than you do.
One of the quickest ways to become ineffective for the kingdom is to think you’ve got it all down. You don’t. I don’t. We don’t.
Keep learning and growing!
2) PRACTICE YOUR INSTRUMENT
Your goal is to create spaces with music that allows people to confidently express their worship. If you don’t practice your craft, you run the risk of creating distractions.
The musicians in the Old Testament Tabernacle and Temple worship “bands” were expected to play skillfully on their instruments (psalm 33:3). God doesn’t require perfection from your instrument to worship, but people can be distracted by the sound of an unskilled player or singer. The point isn’t that God needs you to practice, it’s that you need to practice to be proficient on your instrument so that you don’t hinder OTHERS from worshiping freely.
3) LEARN TO PREFER OTHERS
One thing I had to learn early on is that our roles in leading worship shouldn’t be driven by self-promoting agendas. It’s not about our voice. It’s not about our stardom. It’s not about our style or our expression. We are tools in the hand of the Holy Spirit used for HIS glory!
First and foremost, we should be preferring God’s plans. Are we tapped into what he’s speaking into the life of our faith family? Are we spending time actually asking Him what we should be setting the table with? We are supposed to be ushers. People who usher others into a space where the praises of God can be expressed confidently. We can also be ushers of the Holy Spirit’s words and encouragement for our congregations.
We are not rockstars…but we can be as skilled, as energetic, as prepared, as passionate as rockstars because those things can help us serve our congregations better. Are you passionate about helping OTHERS express their worship? Do you want to serve others through your music? Learn to prefer God first, and then others.
This means you set aside your own tastes at times. It means you sing a song you don’t like but your congregation loves. It means you seek out what God is saying for the next setlist, not just what is popular on the radio.
4) LEARN TO CRAFT SINGABLE SETLISTS
It’s ok to pitch songs in different keys as long as the person you have singing leads confidently. What you don’t want to do is pitch all your songs in a key that is too high or too low. Variety works because it gives something for everyone. You don’t ONLY want just the ladies singing the whole set. And you also don’t want to pitch songs so that ONLY men can sing them. Be wise in crafting your sets. This might also mean that you are deferring leadership to ANOTHER vocal leader. Share the load!
5) LEARN TO WRITE SONGS FOR YOUR FAITH FAMILY
There’s nothing wrong with singing the popular CCLI tunes, but there’s something special about crafting songs right where you are for the people closest to you. Sing a new song! Find people in your worship teams and congregations who are wordsmiths and poets. Start writing expressions of worship and praise right where you are.
Then when you introduce them, let people know that they are “local” – that they are from right there in the faith family.
Russ Hutto is the Associate Director of Worship & Media at St. Simons Community Church, where he mentors, oversees and helps lead Family and Student worship environments. He is also the content curator and editor here at The Worship Community and at HighestPraise.com.