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9 Skills to Move From Singing Songs to Leading Worship

worship singing

Worship leaders: we’ve gotten really good at leading songs but not leading worship. But for us to see the breakthrough we want to see, we need to grow as leaders. Why? Because we are leading a post-Christian people. There are people in our churches who have never been to church. They don’t know the Gospel and they don’t know what worship singing is all about.

Your leadership skills on Sunday will help those who are new Christians to engage in worship singing. Having a great band and getting through songs isn’t enough. Leading worship is not musical ability and musical ability is not leadership. Leadership goes deeper. It sets foot in uncomfortable places. It goes where most are not willing to. A leader is a catalyst for change.

9 Leadership Skills for Leading Worship

And here are some ways a worship leader can increase their leadership and be a catalyst for change:

1. Helping people relax

A good worship leader helps people feel comfortable. Vulnerability is cultivated in a safe environment. And corporate singing and worship falls into that category.

2. Challenging people to go deeper

A pastoral worship leader isn’t content with just getting through a set. The goal isn’t to sing a few great songs. They have a passion for the people of God to go deeper—to sing louder, to take steps of faith, to move closer to Jesus. It’s always easier to hide behind the songs. It takes guts to step out.

3. Being Prophetic

The best worship pastors are prayerful. They’re not just in prayer about Sunday’s set, but about the people. They pursue the voice of God for their church. They want to know what God is saying.

4. Spotlighting the Gospel

Attention. It’s an important word when it comes to leading worship because, essentially, you are calling a room full of people to rapt attention. But what are they focusing on? Your team and your talent? Are you crafting your set in order to magnify the coolness of your art? Or are you crafting an experience that magnifies Jesus and spotlights the Gospel? Because in my mind, that’s the only choice.

5. Prepping for Spontaneity

Depending on your tradition, spontaneous can mean a lot of things. Allow me to broaden the category. Think of spontaneous as relaxed. You can’t be spontaneous if you don’t know what you’re doing. “Feeling the moment” can only happen when the basics are intuitive. You can’t be spontaneous as a Quarterback if you don’t know how to throw a football. By building up that intuitive sense on your instrument, with singing, with flow, you’ll build up the necessary tools to lead well in the moment if you feel a deviation from the plan is necessary.

6. Leading in-between songs

What you do in between songs can make all the difference between your leading worship set feeling plastic or real. Get comfortable with transitions. Don’t just stop and restart.

7. Developing Patience

How do you handle it when people don’t respond as you’d hoped? How do you handle being nervous? Great worship leaders know when to be intense and when to be calm. It’s about having a patient disposition where you’re trusting the Holy Spirit: speak clearly, know how to navigate silence and stay in control.

8. Leading with Energy

Energy doesn’t have to mean bouncing around the stage like a cheerleader. Energy is leading from your heart. It’s believing every lyric. It’s being so caught up in the majesty of God that you exude Jesus. It’s living a life that amplifies the songs. Live Sunday morning before Sunday morning comes.

9. Practice Talking

I think we can all agree that leading worship isn’t just singing through songs, hoping people will join in. In many ways you’re a coach, challenging and teaching your “team” how to go deeper. In order to do that well, you’ll need to practice public speaking—learning how to connect with the room. Practice this before Sunday hits.

Anything you would add to this list about leading worship? Love to hear from you.