The Surprising Skill Worship Leaders NEED to Have

TALKING

When a church is in need of a worship leader, they’re probably not looking for someone who knows how to talk in front of a crowd. The first thing they more than likely want to know is, “Can this kid sing?”

As a worship leader, I would venture to say that talking in a worship set can be just as vital as singing. Singing can actually be one of the easier things you do while leading worship. Think about it—the words are already provided for you. If you don’t memorize them, you probably have a monitor or something that makes it even easier. That’s one of the things I respect about pastors and speakers. They have to bring a talk every week and there’s no chorus to repeat.

Being able to sing is a huge plus in leading worship, but if you know how to talk and communicate with your church during a worship set, the experience takes on a whole new depth. You will also become an even more effective leader.

Here are some tips I’ve learned about talking while leading worship:

1. BE HEARD—This may seem like a given and really elementary, but it’s important that people can hear and understand what you’re saying. There are two things that are required: 1) Make sure you speak clearly and speak loudly. It would be better that you don’t talk at all than if you mumble and talk quietly. 2) Make sure the sound person makes the proper adjustments in the mix. Don’t assume that whoever is running sound knows that they need to adjust your channel when you talk. Your talking voice will have a much different level than your singing voice, so make sure it’s adjusted appropriately. That will take instruction and training on your part.

2. PREPARE A THOUGHT—One of the most valuable things I learned from another worship leader was to prepare a thought during your allotted time. I’ve found it very beneficial for our church and myself, as a leader, to have a scripture, quote or just a thought to share at a specific point in the morning. I usually wait until after our weekly rehearsal, unless something hits me earlier. Rehearsal often gives me clarity about the big picture of the experience. Going through it all at rehearsal gives me that context as I sit down, pray and prepare a thought to share. The more you prepare your thoughts ahead of time, the better you can prepare hearts in the moment.

3. MINIMIZE—This is something that takes time to really master, and I’m still working on it. Some worship leaders talk too much and some are afraid to say anything. It’s important that you talk to your people and not just sing songs. This allows you to share your heart and it allows them to see your heart. Ultimately, it allows you to lead effectively. If they know your heart, as a leader, then they will be more prone to follow you. On the flip side, if you talk too much, it can turn into a sermon. It’s important to remember that they’re going to hear a sermon in that service already, so you don’t need to bring one. I’ve found that when I minimize a prepared thought or scripture to ONE moment in a worship set, it’s very effective. This means that you should NOT talk between every song. If people think you’re going to talk before and after every song, your voice will start sounding like the Charlie Brown teacher—”WAH, WAH, WAH!” I’m not saying that you should never talk more than once during a worship set. There will be times when you need to say something spontaneously, if the Spirit leads. That can be as or more effective at times. Just make sure you’re prepared to give a thought, not a sermon.

4. ENCOURAGE YOUR PEOPLE—Who doesn’t like to be encouraged? Everyone loves to be cheered on and recognized in a positive way. Encouragement can be that rare gem that boosts your day and keeps you going. When my church comes to worship on a Sunday, I recognize that publicly. I will thank them after a Spirit-filled moment, when it is evident that they are truly focused and tuned into the presence of God. A little dose of encouragement can go a long way, and I’ve seen my church get more excited about what God is doing around us when I recognize their recognition of God’s presence. As Andy Stanley has said, “What’s rewarded is repeated.”

5. CHALLENGE WITHOUT RIDICULE—You will never find a perfect church. There will be times when your crowd falls short of what corporate worship is intended to be. As a leader, I look at these moments as opportunities to challenge God’s people to be in awe of Him. The key to this is challenging them without ridiculing them. Remember, they don’t have to be there. They chose to come and worship in your church that week. You want to challenge and encourage them to do good. Just as encouragement can spur on a crowd, ridicule can push them away. You also do not want to shy away from challenging them. That’s what a leader does. As worship leaders, we can help hold our church accountable to worship God, especially if the lead pastor has the same heart. The serious truth about it is that when we do not worship the Creator, we are worshiping the creation (Romans 1:25). When your crowd falls short, don’t let it bring you down. Capture that opportunity to encourage and challenge them to give their worship to the only One who is worthy of it. I live in Denver, or better known as “Bronco Country.” Here’s an example of an opportunity I took at my church.

Look at leading worship as a relationship and connection from the stage. Communication is key to any relationship. When you talk to your crowd effectively, you can draw closer to them, build their trust in you and, best of all, successfully lead them into the beauty of true corporate worship.

What are some other tips you’ve learned about talking?

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Gary Durbin
Gary is the Worship Arts Director at Redemption Chapel in Stow, Ohio. He is also a blogger and a songwriter with a passion to serve the church. He and his wife, Jennifer, have two children and have been married since 1999. You can follow him on Twitter & Instagram @garydurbin or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/garydurbin.

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