I urge you to hold fast to this brief passage of scripture. It’s my prayer these 10 reminders will help you remember you cannot lead from the middle or the back. It is imperative that we stay in front and lead – both musically and spiritually.
Your procession, God, has come into view, the procession of my God and King into the sanctuary. In front are the singers, after them the musicians; with them are the young women playing the timbrels. Praise God in the great congregation; praise the Lord in the assembly of Israel. Psalm 68:24-26 (NIV)
- Be intentional about your own discipleship journey.
The authenticity and effectiveness of your worship leadership should flow naturally out of your experience with the Lord. With this in mind, it is vital that you maintain an active, vibrant, deepening relationship with Jesus. Read the Bible and pray daily. Get involved in group bible study. Become spiritually accountable to someone within your community of faith. Mentor and disciple others regularly.
- Remember that who you are off of the platform earns you the privilege to lead others in worship.
A lifestyle and attitude reflective of Christ will most often trump your musicianship in the minds and hearts of those whom you will lead in the congregation. Your life sings a greater song than your voice ever will. So, be loving, be real, and be consistent.
- There’s no room for a diva.
The church platform exists, in effort, to encourage the community of faith to participate actively in praise and worship, as well as to exalt and preach the Word of God. Everyone involved in worship leadership (singers, instrumentalists, media team, and pastors alike) is in a place of a servant-hood. Selflessness and unity of mind, heart, and soul must be the culture on the platform. Check egos at the door.
- Be prepared.
You can lead worship with more freedom and authority when the music is second nature. Do your homework. Utilize rehearsal time for strengthening what has already been committed to memory. You’ll be a great team member and you’ll experience the joy of leading worship with your gaze solely focused on the throne of God.
- Be excellent.
Derric Johnson has been a friend of mine for more than 30 years. In addition to his esteemed role as a musical director for The Walt Disney Company, Derric has served as a worship pastor in a number of churches for over 50 years. I’ve heard him speak many times throughout the years about the stark contrasts between the entertainment and church music arenas. One of my favorite quotes from Derric is this, “One of the greatest tragedies in American churches these days is the low level of expectancy that people in the pews have for the folks on the platform from Sunday to Sunday.” You can make much of Jesus by making the music and presentation the best it can possibly be.
- Be on time.
Punctuality helps your leader and the team more than you can imagine- and it carries a sense of greater respect among your fellow team members. Prompt arrival ensures that you don’t miss out on anything important and allows you to maximize the time you have set aside to be a serve.
- Treat the media team with love and respect.
Never forget that very little of what anyone does on the platform will be effective without support from audio/visual personnel. These folks are often times the least thanked and most criticized people week in and week out. Negative communication (both verbal and non-verbal) between the platform and media booth can be a serious disruptor for a team- and even a worship service. Go out of your way to show loving kindness to these folks, bearing in mind that they have way more technology to keep under their hands than one microphone.
One of the most disarming, contagious, and engaging forces in all of the world is a smile passed from one person to another. The people in your community of faith need to see and know that you love praising the Lord. Your disposition will go just as far as your musicianship to encourage to lift their voices in worship.
- Save riffing for your commute home from work.
The ability to “riff” or perform vocal improvisation is a skill that only a few incredibly gifted professional singers can do well. Moreover, it tends to be a practice that requires a bit of a spotlight. Unless your director asks you to do otherwise, I encourage you to sing with the group and make the most of the congregational worship experience.
- Enjoy the family!
Camaraderie and unity are communicable and infectious! Spend time with the other members of your worship team away from church. Get to know one another and share life stories. Make room for everyone to feel welcome- regardless of age, race, level of musical experience/ability, etc. There is great power in the being ONE!
Craig Adams, a recipient of multiple Dove Awards, has produced and/or participated in more than 3,500 recordings for artists, record labels, music publishers, tv/film, and radio over the past 35 years. In addition, his vast experience in music production, local church worship ministry, and musical direction for live events, along with his work at Lifeway Worship, gives him the talent, experience, and credibility to not only listen, but really hear, what each album delivers to the listeners.