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3 Improvements for Leading Worship Online

leading worship online

If you thought standing on stage and addressing a room full of people was scary, try leading worship online for a camera. Terrifying.

No one’s posture is more stoic, stare more blank, or voice more silent than a video camera. Talk about a tough crowd. This year has thrust many of us (kicking and screaming) in front of a camera to lead worship. It’s hard!

Here are three improvements I’ve discovered for leading worship online that will remove some of that fear and discomfort and help you engage with your unseen church family.

1. Start Strong When Leading Worship Online

Before you begin, take a moment to look directly into the camera lens, welcome the church family, and invite them to sing.

I’ve watched dozens of church’s online services, and many miss this critical step. The worship leader will simply begin playing and never engage with the online audience.

This mistake can keep people at a distance from the beginning and chances are, you won’t be able to recover this lost ground.

In addition to your intro, look at people (ie. the camera lens) throughout the worship set. Offer encouragements like, “Let’s sing together,” “Even though you’re at home, sing out loud,” or instructions like, “Let’s sing that chorus again.”

2. Choose Familiar Songs When Leading Worship Online

The same thing happens every time we lead a new song at church. We look out over the congregation and are greeted with blank stares and closed mouths. This shouldn’t continue as the weeks go on and the song becomes more familiar but the first or second time? It’s inevitable.

That disconnect we feel in our Sanctuaries is magnified by the distance on an online service. We want to love and serve our church by doing whatever we can to help them see, worship, and adore our Savior. One way we can do that is by leading familiar songs.

But I’ll warn you, I know from experience this concept can be taken too far. I shared only one new song between March and July this year. As the months of quarantine lingered, our song list became increasingly stale.

Share new, timely songs from periodically. Just be sure to surround them with familiar songs in the set list.

3. Practice When Leading Worship Online

A regular habit of practice is essential for any worship leader. Intimate familiarity with the songs, lyrics, chords, dynamics, and structure allows us to lead with freedom and confidence.

My first at-home worship recording for our online service looked something like this:

  • iPhone on a tripod

  • Audio interface plugged into my computer

  • iPad with lyrics on an end table

  • Dog barking

  • Baby sleeping

  • Sun glaring

Whether you’re leading by yourself with a primitive at-home setup or on your church stage with a full production team – distractions abound. The internal monolog is constant.

Where do I look?

Will my computer crash?

Why is it so hot in here?

You can see every wrinkle on my shirt with this camera.

You can hear every crack in my voice with this microphone.

If practice was necessary before it’s crucial now. Practice, practice, practice. Put yourself in a position to lead each song fluidly. There’s enough to think about without wondering which chord comes next.

If you implement these three principles, not only will you feel more confident, but your church will feel more included.

What are some things you’ve found helpful for leading worship online?

This article about leading worship online originally appeared here.

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Brenton Collyer is a Worship Pastor and Creative Director from Monterey California. He writes regularly on worship and leadership at brentoncollyer.com. Follow him on Twitter.