Doing anything for the first time can be nerve-wracking, even if its something you want to do.
I believe this is especially true with anything that has to do with artistic expression, because for most people, their gifts and abilities are simply an extension of themselves. “If people don’t like my singing, then maybe they just don’t like me.” It’s never easy to start new things, and I’d say that’s especially true for worship leaders.
It’s one thing to play guitar for your friends around a campfire or something, but making the decision to lead a group of people in worship is a weighty one. There’s the performance aspect, for sure, but there’s also the weight of taking what you’re doing serious enough that you honor God but not taking yourself TOO serious and simply being yourself.
I was fortunate enough to have 2 or 3 guys in my life who helped me for many years as I was learning how to lead worship. I started by just watching them, being a part of the band, and eventually was mentored by them. This kind of experience is INVALUABLE.
I say all that to say this: Being a new Worship Leader is HARD. But I want to take a stab today at giving you a few tips to get you started right. Whether you’re a young pup just learning how to strum a guitar and lead, or even transitioning into leading with some experience in bands, I think that these tips can help you build the foundation for being a successful Worship Leader.
1. Find a Mentor.
This seems like kinda a “duh” tip, but I can’t over emphasize the impact a great mentor can have on your life. You want to find someone who you look at and think “I want to be like that.” Find someone who is further down the road you want to go on, and then get to know them. Make the ask, and see if they would be open to intentionally mentoring you as you grow as a Worship Leader.
You can also find mentors that you’ll never even meet. Look online and find people who write their own content, are great to follow on Facebook or Twitter, and learn what you can from them. You can even try reaching out to them to see if they have any advice for a Worship Leader who wants to grow. You’d be surprised how often people like this are willing to help you.#WorshipLeader Tip: MENTORS will help you go FURTHER, FASTER. Both IN-PERSON & ONLINE.Click To Tweet
2. Read Your Bible.
Again, this may seem dumb, but I’m dead serious with this one. If you aren’t reading your Bible, you’re not going to be an effective Worship Leader. It doesn’t matter how talented you are or how well you can command a room, if you’re spiritually bankrupt, then you’re no good to lead anyone.
As you lead, especially in moments between songs, you will have a choice: you can use your own words, or you can use His words. Using scripture as your basis of any teaching or leading moment will always build people up and will be effective.#WorshipLeader Tip: READ YOUR BIBLE! If you're SPIRITUALLY BANKRUPT, you're no good to lead anyone.Click To Tweet
3. Your Character Matters.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Worship Leaders with great potential completely ruined by rotten character, myself included! I’m not just talking about being a good person or knowing how to seem nice either. I’m talking about forming your character to be like Christ. This is basic discipleship, and it should be a HUGE priority for you.
If you’re not becoming more like Jesus, growing in your faith and character, then you’re not doing it right. Character isn’t just who you are to people, it’s who you are when no one is looking. Temptation will come, and the strength of your character will determine how you choose to respond to it. Take the time to work on your character regularly, you’ll NEVER regret it.#WorshipLeader Tip: Take the time to work on your CHARACTER regularly, you'll NEVER regret it.Click To Tweet
4. Your Skills Matter.
There is an aspect of “performance” (I know that’s a dirty word for some worship folks, but, honestly, get over it) in leading worship. The Bible even speaks to playing music skillfully (Psalm 33:3). If it was important to play skillfully then, why wouldn’t it be important now?
This includes being a skillful musician or vocalist, but also all the other skills you need to be a successful Worship Leader. This means improving your leadership skills, improving your relationship skills, improving your speaking skills, and a million other things that go into being a Worship Leader. Be strategic about identifying the skills you need to work on and addressing them in a systematic way.#WorshipLeader Tip: Be STRATEGIC about consistently developing ALL your skills.Click To Tweet
5. Reassess Your “10.”
This is a concept I talk about with my Worship Leaders all the time, and is especially important for anyone who is learning to do anything (no, seriously though). Here’s what I mean:
Lets say you’re learning to lead worship, and you’re going to rate yourself on a scale from 1 to 10 to keep track of how you’re doing over time. Seems fair enough. However, if 1 is worst leader ever, 10 is Jesus strumming a guitar, and you’re starting out at a 3 or 4, then you’re going to feel pretty defeated.
My advice is to reassess your “10.” Don’t change what a “10” means, but use a sliding scale to change what a “10” for you is right now. For instance, in this situation, maybe a “10” is now a 5 or 6. That means when you’re hitting 4 or 5 regularly, you’re encouraged not defeated, because you’re getting close to your new “10.”
Once you’re consistently hitting 5’s & 6’s, move your “10” again to continually push yourself. Maybe your “10” will be a true 10 one day, but don’t feel bad about moving it to fit your current reality. Reassess your “10” in order to gain momentum and encouragement, even when you’re just beginning.#WorshipLeader Tip: Reassess your 10 to gain MOMENTUM and ENCOURAGEMENT!Click To Tweet
6. Love People First.
Above everything, including music, programming, singing, EVERYTHING, being a Worship Leader is about loving people. You shouldn’t lead songs at a church service cause you’re a good singer. You should lead songs at a church because you love those people and want to lead them well. Our motivation for everything we do must be love.
We choose the songs we do because we love people and want to lead them in worship well. We lead our teams well because we love the people on the teams, rather than seeing them as tools to accomplish our end goal. If we perform great and speak real well during a service, but don’t love the people we’re leading, then we’re doing it wrong (1 Cor 16:14).#WorshipLeader Tip: LEAD WORSHIP because you want to LOVE PEOPLE well.Click To Tweet