Prepare :: Time Well Spent

As the leader, you need to know where you are going, before you can lead others there.

Carefully think through each song and how you are going to lead it. Don’t just lead it the same way every time. Sometimes you may want to keep the energy level high. Sometimes soft. You may want to extend the song or possibly use just the chorus. Consider how the song can best be used in the service you are planning.

Take the congregation on a journey. Be intentional with scripture, prayer, and songs. Spend a lot of time thinking about transitions and how to help the flow of the service from the very beginning to the end.

Commit to spend more time this week in planning and preparing for worship.

Study. Rehearse. Communicate. Pray.

Prepare yourself and your team, then come to worship expecting GREAT things.



STRENGTH (a worship leadership theme for worship)

1. being strong: capacity for exertion or endurance
2. power to resist legal, logic or moral force
3. emotional qualities in dealing with stressful situations
4. intensity of a feeling or belief

In our society today, weakness is not something we strive to attain. Nobody wants to be seen as the weakest link, the last person to finish a race, the one who gives in to peer pressure too quickly, or the one who quickly sheds a tear. We do not want to look as though we are weak in any way. But isn’t it interesting that God says “when you are weak, you are strong”?

God views strengths and weaknesses in a completely different light than we do in our human minds. God knows that if we try to accomplish something in our own power and strength that eventually we will run dry. Although maybe for a time we can muster up enough strength, we still can’t be fueled by our own power forever. First Corinthians tells how God chose the weak in the world to shame the strong. He knows that by choosing us, weak and broken people, that He will be most glorified as He makes us strong. If we do things on our own, we want recognition and our sinful pride inflates, but when we know that it is all through Christ alone, then He receives all the glory and praise.

Life is hard. We can’t live it on our own. Temptations come our way that we can’t bear to withstand. Heartache happens that only breaks us to pieces.

People let us down.
Friendships betray.
Possessions ruin.
Status quickly changes.

We are not made to walk through life alone and try to handle everything through our own power and strength. We are made to walk by his power. We are made to be weak in our flesh so that He is made strong in our spirit. We are made to make much of His Name, for his power is made perfect in weakness.


Worship the God of Strength and Power
God you are almighty, powerful, full of strength and might. You display your power in the heavens, on the earth, and in each of our lives. Thank you for the strength that you pour into our lives everyday. We know that we are in desperate need of your strength within us, and we pray we never forget that.

Scripture references for strength/strong
“the Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation” Ex 15:2
“Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually” 1 Chron 16:11
“O Lord, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble.” Jer 16:19
“God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s.” Hab 3:19
“Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel.” Romans 16:25
“God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.” 1 Cor 27
“my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor 12:9
“For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor 12:10
“he may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being” Eph 3:16
“that you… may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth” Eph 3:18
“finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” Eph 6:10
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13
“May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might.” Col 1:11
“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Tim 2:1
“will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10

(all scripture references are ESV)

This posting is a part of the THEME section of FQ PLANNING and FQ LEADER. More themes for worship leadership are available at FQWORSHIP.COM.

It’s Time to Evaluate

The worship planning and preparation in and around Easter can be very demanding. So often, we are ready to move on to the next service or begin planning the next event once Easter is over.

Before you forget all the details of this year, take a moment to reflect and evaluate.

Write down what worked, what needs improving, and what you would like to see happen next year. Don’t forget to include the key individuals who helped you.

File it all away somewhere, then look at it when Christmas is over.

It may take a few minutes now, but you’ll be glad to see it as you plan Easter next year.


All Must Be Good

As the leader of worship, you must be able to do a lot of things all at once AND they must all be good.

Take a moment and write down the things you must do in order to lead on Sundays:

You must be able to:

start the song in the right key
listen for balance of all instruments and vocalists
listen and correct any harmonies that are not working
sing the right notes
sing the right words
keep everything moving forward
be flexible
communicate with the A/V team and pastor
adjust to the unexpected
lead with confidence
don’t blame others publicly
keep good facial expression
engage those you are leading
able to lead spoken transitions
instruct all instrumentalists properly
have fun
be sure your team is confident in the direction of all music
have a great attitude
lead with a servant heart

These are just a few that may apply to you.

Make your own list.
Evaluate honestly and prepare diligently.

As you lead, it is better to do a few things well than a lot of things that need improvement.

Dynamics in Worship

As the leader of worship, it may be effective to lead the congregation to sing quietly, then to repeat the chorus or the next verse with vocal strength (louder).

A song that works well with dynamics is HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD. After the bridge, many worship leaders sing one or two times through the chorus very softly, then build it for a powerful (and vocally louder) repeat of the chorus for a big ending. Others, may choose to sing it loud, then bring it down for a more intimate time through the chorus.

If you have drums and bass (plus other instruments), the congregation will many times follow the instrumental energy level from loud to soft or soft to loud.

However, if you are the only instrumentalist, you may need to give vocal direction to the congregation. Simply insert a quick instruction to “sing it louder” or “sing it soft” or “quietly” as you begin the next chorus. Once you’ve sung the chorus softly, simply begin playing with more energy and confidently say to the congregation, “Sing it out!” “Lift your voices.” or what is comfortable for you.

Dynamics are always effective in worship, but so often we forget them.

Determine your plan for dynamics.
Communicate your plan to your instrumentalists.
Work your plan.

Don’t be afraid to lead. That is your responsibility.

Mix it Up. Don’t Sing It All Every Time.

Don’t be afraid to sing the verse or the bridge or the chorus ONLY.

Many times we get into a rut of singing all of every song. Change is good.

Here are a few examples.

1) Sing all of HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD.
In the same key, sing the refrain of HOW GREAT THOU ART (then sings my soul…), then go back to the chorus one last time through on HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD.

2) Sing the entire song of BLESSED BE YOUR NAME. In the same key, sing the refrain of HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD.
— or you may want to sing the bridge: “You’re the name above all names…”
Sometimes you may want to go back to BLESSED BE YOUR NAME, and sometimes you may want to move forward to the next song.

then sing from the older worship song BREATHE, “And I’m desperate for You, I’m lost without you.”
Sing that phrase several times as the congregation worships. As the instruments continue,  consider a time of silence, heads bowed, reflecting on how our God sustains us and takes care of our every need.
Repeat “And I’m desperate for you…”
Or repeat part of YOU ALONE CAN RESCUE or end the time of worship with silence, then prayer.

Plan your worship experience during the week.
Be sure your team knows where you are going so they will be with you.
Then, engage with the congregation as you lead them into worship.

Mix it up with the songs you and your congregation sing at your church. See what works best for you.


Expression / NOT Distraction

If you (or others in your band) lead worship while playing an instrument, you MUST be able to play each song well on your instrument or you will become a distraction to those you are leading.

Practice playing the song without singing.

Pianists / Keyboardists
Plan for the intro, the bridge, the accompaniment, with or without the band, etc.
Practice the song with your eyes closed to see if you can lead without looking at your hands.

Decide in advance where in the song you are strumming, picking, playing lead, etc.
Practice all the strumming or picking styles without singing.
Practice everything without looking at the neck of the guitar or at your hands.
Practice until there is no hesitation moving from one chord to the next.

Memorize the chords.
Memorize your plan for leading the song in worship.
Memorize ALL the lyrics.

Put it together withOUT the band
Practice playing and singing the entire song by memory and with your eyes closed. (Closing your eyes will help you see your weaknesses.)

Add the other instruments and vocalists
Once you are confident in the song, add everyone else.
Make any adjustments necessary as you blend or coordinate with the entire ensemble.

Remember, you have an incredible responsibility to lead others into a time of worshiping our God. Your investment in preparation will allow your instrument to be an expression of worship as you lead.

Leaders Know How to Follow

I loved reading Michael Hyatt’s blog today, Leadership Starts at Home (a guest post by Kelly Combs).

One of Kelly’s points was that leaders know how to follow.

Have you ever thought how much leadership changes in the course of one song?

DRUMS: the drummer starts the tempo
ACOUSTIC GUITAR: begins the intro
LEAD VOCAL: leads the people to sing
ANOTHER VOCALIST: possibly leads the next verse
LEAD GUITAR: takes the bridge while scripture is on the screens
LEAD VOCAL: leads the people to sing again
and on it goes….

The only way to experience excellence in music is by learning how and when to lead and how and when to follow.

We have all been there…. a vocalist begins to lead the congregation to sing a verse. At the same time, the piano or electric guitar begins a bridge or transition in the music. Someone immediately has to give in to the leadership of the other. If not, the train wreck just became a distraction in worship.

As the leader, be intentional with allowing others to lead you. Learn how to be a better follower. Your leaders will appreciate it.



Check Out These Blogs

Christmas Music & Worship. What Story Are You Telling?

I love Christmas, but over the years, as a worship leader, there has always been a struggle to sing the great carols while leading the people to worship.

The tension is this: most Christmas songs talk ABOUT Christmas (tell part of the story of Christmas)…

  • the manger
  • the star
  • the baby
  • the night
  • the wise men
  • the King
  • the shepherds
  • the angels
  • the town

…but as worship leaders, we want to help point worshipers TO God. Many of the songs we lead the other nine months of the year are vertical in nature… prayers to God (songs that tell the story of our need for a savior directed directly to Him).

So, if you desire a stronger worship experience, look for the songs you can use that include include both the story of Christmas and the story of the worshiper.

1) Consider taking the core of a worship song that your congregation knows well and use it a the end of a Christmas song.

2) Try using the refrain of “O Come All Ye Faithful” with other text, such as “We give You all the glory,” “For You alone are worthy.”

3) Find common worship songs that include some of the Christmas story (light, peace, glory)  and some of the worshiper’s journey (the need for His light or His peace in their life).

  • “The splendor of a King clothed in majesty” (How Great is Our God / Tomlin)
  • “Beautiful Jesus” (Stanfill)
  • “Glory in the Highest” (Tomlin)
  • “Light of the world” (Here I Am to Worship / Hughes
  • “You are peace, You are Peace (Forever Reign / Hillsong)

It will take time to plan, but will help engage your congregation in worship while celebrating our Lord’s birth.



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