I have been leading worship in some capacity since the days of overhead projectors and transparencies back in Jr. High. At that time it was with just a boombox and if the cd had a scratch you were suddenly doing a remix of an upbeat version of ‘As the Deer.’ Since that time I have learned some lessons, mostly by trial and error, and I wanted to do a series of posts about some of the most important things I have discovered being a full time worship leader, working in a church, working with volunteers and so on. These won’t be in any intentional order:
Find the things that eat your joy and get rid of them. Sometimes the classes you take in college, the books you read or the conference breakout session you attended, don’t necessarily ‘train’ you for something specific, they often can point out to you something that you absolutely hate and are not good at doing. I am all for improving weaknesses, and I am not suggesting being lazy! I am saying is that we are all created different and there are people that love doing that thing you hate, they excel at them and they are looking to use their talents! Seek those people out and let them do it! You continue to do the things that you love, excel at and bring you joy. This does not mean you get out of doing hard work, or things that only a full time staffer does, but it does mean you should surround yourself with a diverse team who are better than you at certain things.
Be a Kirk Herbstreit not a Jesse Palmer.
If you are not a fan of college football I apologize because the
analogy really only works if you know who those people are. Basically what this boils down to is add to worship time when you talk, do not just fill time and add fluff. Be prepared, study up, be theologically correct and add substance not just christianese words or phrases. Worship is the whole service, not just the 3 Chris Tomlin songs you play back to back. So that includes you walking on/off stage, transitions between songs, the scripture being read and what you are saying to the congregation. The call to lead worship is very serious (volunteer or employed) and your Pastor has faith/trust in you to not say something blasphemous from stage. So take some time away from working on your sweet solo riff, and crack open a book, preferably a Bible.
Planned Spontaneity. I know, this term is basically an oxymoron but it makes sense. Really, this is just a sub point to a much larger point of being prepared, but I will touch on it real quick. When you have your set worked out and are working through transitions, just have a running list of some songs that also fit the motif of the service, are in your range and can be VERY easily gotten to from the previous song. So for example your set is ‘Only King Forever – Jesus Paid it All – Your love is Extravagant’ my thought process would be this “Extravagant is in E, this set’s songs are specifically about Jesus, what he did and also proclaiming it, so what other song fits and is easy to get to, You Won’t Relent, I Exalt thee, Let it Rain, Everything, all those are in E, which fits the motif? I Exalt thee matches up pretty very well with proclaiming and matches that motif.” So I would make a literal not or a mental note of that. But also I would remember those other ones in case something was to go down in the service. Yes, this is extra work. Yes, you need to know words or be doubly prepared and have the sheet(s) ready. No, I don’t go to these ‘extra’ songs for every song/every service, but being prepared and practiced up I know that I could.