Every worship leader has a mental checklist of what needs to happen before they get up to lead worship. Some worship leaders’ checklists are a bit fuller than others, but we all share certain responsibilities that have to be fulfilled prior to the beginning of the service.
Most of us wouldn’t ever think of standing before a congregation to lead worship without first choosing the songs. To be so glaringly unprepared would have terrible ramifications and would be such a bad idea in so many ways.
Most of us (hopefully) wouldn’t ever consider replacing the strings on our guitar and then plugging in to lead the band without tuning the strings a few times. To be so careless would be a huge distraction to the other musicians and to the congregation.
Most of us would never show up on Sunday morning two minutes before the service is supposed to start, ask a few people from the congregation to play along on the spot, tell them to guess what key the songs will be in, and tell the congregation to sing along if they know the words. To be so last-minute would be incredibly foolish and dishonoring to the people you’re supposed to be serving.
Yet how many of us never give any thought to how we’ll introduce a song until the moment comes? Or how many of us decide at the last minute that we want to encourage the congregation in some way and start talking with no notes, no idea of where we’re going, no scriptural basis, and no approval from our pastor?
Too many of us.
Every worship leader’s checklist needs to include intentionally thinking through and praying about how they can effectively communicate with the congregation. To be so presumptuous in our own abilities so as to devote no preparation to the important task of speaking to the body of Christ should be unthinkable to any of us who have that responsibility.
This week I’ve proposed four ways we can ensure that we’re communicating (or at least seeking to communicate) well when we lead worship. First, think it through and write it down. Relieve some pressure off yourself and know what you’re going to say before the service starts. Second, submit to your pastor. The pastor is the shepherd and you are one of the sheep. Partner with your pastor as much as you can. Operate under his covering and you’ll both be grateful. Third, use the right tone. Don’t talk to the congregation like they’re in Kindergarten. Respect them. Conversely, don’t talk to the congregation like you’re afraid of them. Relax and be confident yet humble. And finally, base what you say on the living and active Word of God. Your words will pass away – God’s Word never will.
You’ll notice a difference in how you’re communicating on Sunday morning, and the congregation will too. You’ll grow every time you do it and learn lessons along the way. And then, when the time comes when you do have to make something up on the spot – when the Holy Spirit prompts you to say something that you had not planned – you’ll be ready.