At some time or another, you as the worship leader are going to have to verbally communicate with the congregation you are leading. A good practice for any person who is leading worship is to think through what you are going to say before the time comes to say it. Think about the pastor teaching that same morning. Do you think he just gets up there and says whatever comes to his mind right then and there? Of course not! He has a rehearsed message that he wants to get across to the congregation, so he makes sure that whatever he says is as clear and concise as possible. We should adopt this same mindset as worship leaders. Make it a habit to think through and visualize what you are going to say before it comes time to say it in the service. Here are three service elements that you will want to think through what to say when leading worship:
Many churches start off the service with praise and worship, which means you as the worship leader may be the first person from the stage that welcomes the congregation and invites them into worship. It is for this reason that it is important to think through what you are going to say. You want to be very invitational and exciting in your welcome, as this will set the tone of the service. Here is an example of how you could welcome:
Good morning! Welcome to ________ church. We are glad you are here with us today. We are going to start today’s service by worshipping God through song. In Psalm 98:4 says to “shout to the LORD, all the earth; break out in praise and sing for joy!” We would like to invite you to stand and sing with us as we worship our amazing God together.
The Christian will already have a good idea of what is going on, but a new guest may have no idea of what to do or why they are being asked to do it. It is for this reason that you should welcome everyone as if they were coming for the first time and explain why we are gathering.
Prayer or Bible Verse
The beginning of the service (after the welcome) is a great place to pray or read a verse. The most important job of the worship leader is to point people towards God. This happens in large part through the songs we are singing, but we shouldn’t just stand up and sing without saying anything else. Leading a congregational prayer or reading a bible verse can really help in drawing people’s attention towards God and off of everything else. Sometimes this can happen spontaneously, but as much as you can, plan for when you want to add either of these elements because it will be more clear and eloquent.
Explanation of a Lyric
Many times we sing worship songs without having the congregation in mind. We sing song lyrics that mean so much to us, but we forget that some in the congregation may have no idea what the song is communicating. Even more specifically, we may be singing certain words over and over again that might not even be in most people’s vocabulary. Here are examples of some churchy words you might want to briefly explain to your congregation: Hosanna, Yahweh, I AM, Hallelujah, etc. We should also give an explanation to a song that we have never played before. Most people won’t know the song well enough to sing, so we can point people’s attention towards a theme, bible verse, or line that has to do directly with the song so that they have something to reflect on while the team plays.
If you are having a hard time formulating the words to say in the moment, write down in advance what you want to say on your music. Just like some preachers use notes, there is no problem with worship leaders using notes. The more comfortable you get with speaking, the less you will have to write out what you want to say, and the more fluent and confident you will be. For more insight and help on this topic, click here.
Introducing a New Song
When introducing a new song to your church, I like to use an introduction similar to this:
In Psalm 96:1 it says, “Sing a new song to the LORD! Let the whole earth sing to the LORD!” Today we would like to teach you a new song. It focuses on what God says in his word about _____________ . Let’s start by singing the chorus and learning it together.
It’s important to help people realize that there’s a purpose in learning the new song: it teaches a new vital truth about God. When you can help others to see the importance of why you’re learning a new song, you’ll get many more people on board who might otherwise wish that they could sing songs that they are more familiar with, more comfortable with, or that are just more suited to their tastes. Remember to paint the larger picture for why you’re doing what you’re doing and invite people along for the journey.
Closing the Service
Depending on your church, your pastor or another church leader may close the service or he may rely upon you to do that. If you are closing the service, remember to keep things brief. The sermon has already been given; we don’t need another one! Highlight the main idea from the message and the response song to the message (if you sang one) and tie them into reflecting upon God’s greatness and how we might apply them into our lives for that week. It is also very helpful to remind people of key components of your church’s vision, if you are sending them out for that service or inviting them up to the front for prayer from a church leader. For example, if you church focuses on mentoring and making disciples, you can say something along these lines:
Today we learned about God’s desire for us to avoid gossip and reflect upon how our heart is connected to the words we say. Make sure to unpack this message with your mentor and the person you are mentoring this week to explore and apply this message to your life.
Remember that if you are closing the service, your words will be the last that someone hears. Choose those words wisely and deliver them in a timely way.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- Do you enjoy speaking in front of people? Why or why not?
- Aside from musical preparation, how else do you prepare to lead worship?
- What do you think of the welcome example. What would you add or take away from it?
- Name some worship songs you play at your church. With those songs, point out some potentially confusing lyrics. Also think of some Bible verses that would fit well with those songs.
- What are some appropriate/good things to pray for while leading worship?
- What would you include in your ideal closing remarks for a service and why?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.