The role of a worship leader in the church is unique, to say the least. We are on the stage, under the lights, and the center of attention – but that’s not where the attention should be focused. Ultimately, Worship is a response to the revelation of Jesus Christ. It seems more than obvious that Christ should be at the center of our worship service, not the worship leader. For that reason, unlike secular musicians, the Worship Leader’s job each week is essentially to get out of the way and let people see Christ. So how do we do that, and do it effectively? Here are five methods I’ve found helpful in attempting to be a conduit rather than an obstacle on the worship platform.
- Be prepared. The best way to get out of the way is to eliminate distractions. Nothing is more distracting than an un-prepared leader. If I don’t have the songs down pat, if I haven’t proof-read the slides, if the band isn’t well rehearsed, the audience will see it, and it will be a distraction. Getting out of the way starts with preparation during the week.
- Eliminate visual distractions. Lighting and moving background images can enhance the worship experience up to a point, but all too often the desire to more creatively exercise artistic expression gets in the way of practical execution. If the super cool moving background and multi-colored stage lights make the song lyrics and scriptures harder to see, they need to be changed.
- Remove the awkward pauses. It only takes a second for the audience to become distracted and start checking their phones or thinking about where they’re headed after the service. Continual engagement is critical and every element of the service should flow smoothly. Be sure everyone on the platform knows exactly where to be and when to be there. Microphones need to be ready and it should always be clear to the audience where to focus. The other people on the platform can be of particular help here. The focus of anyone visible on stage should be directed to exactly where the audience attention needs to be – if someone is speaking, every visible eye on the platform should be focused on that speaker.
- Songs should be chosen to increase the people’s focus on Christ, not the worship leader. The topic of song choice and singable keys has been well covered by many others, so I won’t say anything more than the simple reminder that it’s not about you and your incredible musical ability.
- Pray earnestly. Every minute I have between sound check and the start of the service I try to spend in prayer. My prayer is always the same. I simply pray, “Lord, please help me to get out the way so that the people can see you clearly and hear what you want to say to their hearts. Don’t let me be a distraction today.”
These five help me. I’d love to hear what works for you.
Brian Brown is LifeWay Worship’s Manager of Sales, Marketing, Events & Business Development. With LifeWay for more than 21 years, Brian has a passion for worship, numbers and history. He’s well-read. He’s quick-witted. He’s worth following on Twitter @TheBrianHBrown.