1. COME PREPARED.
When you arrive at rehearsal, your voice should already be warmed up, your lyrics memorized, and your guitar parts down (if you play guitar while you sing). When you aren’t focused on what the next lyric is or what you’re supposed to play, that leaves so much room for you to focus on LEADING. When the entire band is prepared, it is much easier to add stylistic details and just have fun. Remember: rehearsal is not the place to learn the music. It is the place to put it all together.
2. KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GONNA SAY BEFORE YOU SAY IT.
I'm not saying that you shouldn’t let the Holy Spirit lead. There are definitely times for that! But during the welcome especially, it's good to have a somewhat scripted introduction. Here’s a template of a general welcome:
"Good morning! We’re so excited you’ve joined us today at _____ Church.
My name is ______. We’ve got a few songs this morning, I wanna encourage you to sing along!"
“Welcomes” call for a brief, energetic, and authentic introduction to let people know you’re glad they’re here with you. No spiritual bombs need to be dropped at this time. Just get them active, excited, and involved.
The second or third song may call for a spiritual moment. (Note that every song does not need one, but you can figure out if it could use one to engage with your people) It’s a good idea to have this somewhat scripted out as well for the songs we have spiritual moments. I like to write out what I’m going to say before rehearsals so I can practice it and make sure it sounds/feels good. We do this for a couple of different reasons.
To make sure what we say is theologically sound.
-We don’t want to go up there unprepared and say something that is scripturally incorrect, even if it’s by complete accident.
It helps the front of house engineer in rehearsal.
- We need to PRACTICE our “spiritual moments” in rehearsal so the FOH engineer can get a good mix of our speaking voice as opposed to our singing voice. We cannot risk the experience of a first-time guest because we said something stupid or spoke too long. As worship leader, we are communicators. It takes practice to say things in the right amount of time, making sure we don’t repeat ourselves too much, say something out of the ordinary, or speak way too long (which I’ve been guilty of)
3. PRACTICE HOW YOU PLAY; PLAY HOW YOU PRACTICE.
Do you see a recurring theme here? I cannot say enough how important it is to treat every rehearsal like it is a service. That old saying “you play how you practice” is so true. The more often you practice your speaking moments, the easier and more fluent it is onstage Sunday morning in front of 100, or even 1000 people.
Also, it is very important not to slack off in rehearsal. I know you may be there for 2-3 hours playing the same 3 songs. I know it gets tiring. I know your feet and your voice are hurting. But, “you play how you practice”. Andy Chrisman from Church on the Move has an incredible blog about “Sandbagging”, which discusses this topic a lot more. I encourage you to read it here: Say No to Sandbagging
4. STAGE PRESENCE IS IMPORTANT.
- The way you portray yourself onstage says a lot about you as a worship leader. People can tell when someone is uncomfortable or feels awkward. That, unfortunately, makes them feel uncomfortable and awkward. The worst part of it is, it can be a distraction during worship. When you’re leading worship, you need to be CONFIDENT and ENERGETIC. Find your stance. Keep your chest up (no slouching) and your lips close to your microphone. When you hunch over to sing, your diaphragm isn’t able to fully expand- which makes your singing weaker. Being a worship leader means you’ll have to step out of your comfort zone. I know its awkward at times, but the more you push yourself to step out of your comfort zone, the more effective you’ll be as a communicator.
- Your hands are a major tool in communication. Use them as much as possible when you lead. WL’s with guitars, you can afford to NOT play for that second verse. Your electric guitars take care of that. Use that time to use your hands to lead the congregation. WL’s without guitars, do not fall into the habit of grabbing the mic or the mic stand. That just looks weird. A good rule of thumb is to never let your hands go below your hips. Clap a lot! And you don’t have to clap loud to get people to clap. I like to faux clap a lot. It gives the same energy!
- When you’re not leading a song; sing anyways! Just not into the mic. If you don’t sing the second verse, step away from the mic and sing a long! The congregation sings when you sing. And remember- LOOK HAPPY TO BE THERE AND HAVE FUN. This is so important. You need to be joyful when you’re leading others in worship. Don’t be too cool for school onstage. It tells people that you don’t care what you’re singing about. If they believe you; they trust you. If they trust you; they’ll follow your leadership. This doesn’t mean that you’ll have to “fake” it up there. But sometimes you just have to suck it up and be joyful because that’s what it takes to lead worship.
5. TAKE CARE OF YOUR VOICE!
- Voice lessons are the best way to keep your voice healthy and strong. Being challenged every week by an instructor helps a lot. You can take your singing to another level with voice lessons, I strongly recommend it!
Vocalize U app
-This is a great app to warm up with. It gives you a whole bunch of scales to work with. I love it!
Stay away from caffeine on performance days!
- I realize that early Sunday mornings are rough and you need your coffee, but caffeine is a severe drying agent and is terrible for your singing voice. I reccomend ROOM TEMPERATURE WATER ONLY on performance days. Not cold water; room temperature. Cold water will constrict your vocal cords.
6. NEVER STOP LEARNING.
I don’t think there’s ever a time when you’ve “arrived”. I believe you should always learn as much as you possibly can. Here are a few ways to grow:
"Worship Leaders, We Are Not Rockstars", Stephen Miller
"The Air I Breathe", Louie Giglio
"Worship Matters", Bob Kaufman
"Doxology and Theology", Matt Boswell
Pretty much anything from this website
Seeds.com (Andy Chrisman)
Chris From Canada
Private Worship Leadership Coaching
7. STAY IN THE WORD!
Most importantly, read your bible! I cannot stress this enough. Worship leaders should constantly be in the word. It is our source! Your worship onstage should be an overflow of the worship in your daily life. Memorize scripture. Stay in tune with Jesus. Read your bible, read your bible, read your bible!
QUOTES ON WORSHIP
"A worship leader is to be a person who exemplifies worship in all areas of life as an example for the church to emulate; who pursues God with everything and lives a life of holiness that worships through obedience in all things; who leads the church in an all-encompassing lifestyle of worship."- Stephen Miller
“We are called by God. We are the carriers of God to the world. A worship leader is a shepherd. They are your people. Lead them to Jesus. Even if all you have is a couple seconds, lead people to have an encounter with Jesus. Each one of us has the opportunity to stand in the gap for people. The weight of worship is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”- Louie Giglio
“And remember, the goal of practice isn't doing something until you get it right. It's doing it until you can't get it wrong.” - Bob Kauflin