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How to Lead Worship Without an Instrument

Leaving space for free singing/playing

The other thing you can practice in rehearsal is an ‘open section’ where you might want to leave room for the congregation to sing out freely to God. If I want to signal this, I wiggle my fingers—again, feel free to make up your own signal! The thing I would do in my preparation is try to identify a key place in the worship where I think the congregation is most likely to respond in this way. Then, in rehearsal, I would tell the band that I might open the song up at this point and decide with the band a chord sequence so that everyone is playing the same thing. You might choose just to play between two chords, or you could have a longer sequence if you wish.

Bring the best out of your band

The final thing I would add is that you don’t have to be a star musician on an instrument yourself to bring the best out of your band. I usually have an idea in mind of the dynamics of the song, so even if I can’t execute it on an instrument myself, I know that others can, so I give them some clear guidelines of what I have in mind. I’ll give them clues such as, “I’d like this to be majestic,” or “Let’s have a strong introduction then drop down a little in verse one, building to the chorus,” or I might invite them to add some interest in verse 2.

You are the worship leader, but that doesn’t mean that you have to have all the musical ideas. I always encourage the band I’m playing with that (while you’re the one making the decisions), as lead worshippers, you’re all leading the people in worship together, it’s a team effort and their musical gifts are making a huge contribution to that.