Worship leaders have lots of responsibilities when it comes to their church’s worship services but something that can’t be neglected beyond choosing songs and finding communion servers and importing slides to ProPresenter is the importance of preparation. Preparation is one of the ways that leaders lead – literally getting out in front of others – and it’s how we are able to handle the unexpected events which may happen between now and Sunday.
Preparation is more than spending time in rehearsal or going over notes. Preparation as a worship leader communicates importance of the role you are in, communicates value to your team for their contribution and communicates priority to your congregation who will be gathering to worship.
As I’ve thought about how I do this and help others do it, here are some things I’ve learned when it comes to preparing yourself, preparing your team and preparing your congregation for worship.
Don’t neglect personal spiritual devotion. For the sake of your soul, for the sake of your family, for the sake of your church and for the sake of the gospel. Personal spiritual devotion is about so much more than reading scripture to find themes for your songs on Sunday. Worship is so much more than rehearsing for your services.
“Ministry to the Lord” is one of the beautiful opportunities we have as followers of Jesus but also as levitical leaders within his church. Take the opportunity!
Spend time through the week hearing the voice of God as He speaks to you through His word. Spend time expressing your heart to the Lord through worship as you sing to Him. Minister to the Lord and don’t neglect your own spiritual devotion.
The priests stood at their posts; the Levites also, with the instruments for music to the Lord that King David had made for giving thanks to the Lord—for his steadfast love endures forever—whenever David offered praises by their ministry; opposite them the priests sounded trumpets, and all Israel stood.
2 Chronicles 7:6
One other way to prepare yourself for worship is to love people before you lead them. Spend time in the pews and in the lobby before your service starts. Get out of the green room and shake some hands. Say good morning to some people. Hold a door for someone. Help a parent find your kids checkin spot. Ask someone how their week was. Be engaged in relationship with the people you are about to lead and express your heart to them even in those few minutes before your service starts.
When it comes to personal preparation, here are some books that I would recommend should be in the library of every worship leader. I go back to all of these often:
Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin
Unceasing Worship by Harold Best
Vertical Church by James MacDonald
True Worshipers by Bob Kauflin
Prepare your team
Unless you have a team full of paid musicians you are typically working with a worship team who have full time jobs, families, social responsibilities and just life events in general. Everyone’s got a ton going on. To help them prepare for worship one thing you need to do as a worship leader to communicate really clearly what you’re asking them to do. Simply providing them with songs, arrangements, audio files, chord charts and some communication around how you’d like these songs to be done in the worship service will be a huge work of preparation for your team.
From my personal experience and from what I know about working with worship leaders for the last 20 years is that this does not come naturally. Organization, detail and communication are not typically high in a worship leader gift set so you need to learn this behaviour and acknowledge that you won’t always get it right. But you can learn it and it’s one of the ways you can lead (get out in front!) as a leader.
Are you making changes to arrangements? Are you changing the feel from what is expected? Is there a repeated section or a transition you’d like them to do?
Invest time during your week to set up your team to succeed when you come for rehearsal or for your weekend worship services.
Here are some tools (both paid and free) you can use to help with communication for your team:
Prepare your congregation
Beyond praying for your church family and being faithful in your call to lead them in worship on Sundays here are a couple ways you can prepare your congregation for worship.
I see lots of debate online about posting set lists and whether people should do that and if you do it should it before Sunday or after Sunday and should you link to iTunes or should you… and on and on and on. I figure anything I can do to get my congregation engaged and excited for Sunday, anything that helps and equips and prepares them for worship, let’s do it!
Typically I will post a social media graphic of the songs we’re singing at our two locations and I try to do this before the weekend hits to give people the chance to check out the songs and get familiar if they’d like to. The only way to really track if this is effective is the weeks when I don’t do it – and that’s when I hear from people!
Usually I use one of two iPhone apps to post to instagram, twitter and facebook and then our social media people will repost those to our church accounts.
Here are the tools I use to do this and a couple examples of finished product:
One final way to prepare your congregation is (ironically) the way you start your service. How much time do you invest in thinking about and planning the first thing you’re going to say when your service starts? Some of you are in a more liturgical setting where your call to worship is pre-prepared but many of you have the privilege to lead your congregation right from the very start of the service.
Invest 30 minutes this week thinking about your call to worship – the very first thing you’re going to say when the service begins! Whether it’s a couple of verses or a psalm or an encouragement to worship or something reflective, use some time this week so that on Sunday you can most effectively prepare your congregation to worship right as soon as the service begins!
Hopefully that’s helpful for you and I’m sure you’ve got a ton of your own ideas so I’d love to hear what you do to prepare yourself, your team or your congregation for worship. Hit me with an email firstname.lastname@example.org or on social media (@chrisfromcanada twitter facebook instagram) and let’s help each other learn.
If you’re interested I’ve got a set of ebooks available free for worship leaders to help you do your job better. Sign up below to get them delivered straight to your inbox.