The One we worship is never blah or uninteresting.
But from a practical standpoint, it’s easy for worship leaders to get into a rut. It happens to the best of us. But God is creative and we can draw from the deep well for creativity to explode in our church – even now!
As we seek to invite people to worship Him in spirit and truth, we do our best to create moments of awe, beauty and inspiration. When it’s all said and done, it comes down to the heart of the worshipper. We can’t judge another person’s motive as they worship. But as we prepare to lead the congregation, we need to do our best, with what we have, to move them closer to an encounter with Christ.
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This list is to aid our thinking and to help us out of the rut. Here are nine tips to transition to more fantastic worship services.
1) Desire for it to be better. Do you desire for your worship ministry leadership to improve? Do you have a vision for the future? Do you love Sundays? Do you love leading people? Pray for creativity to come to you. Seek out other worship ministries from which you can learn. Take on the posture of learner. Ask questions and listen. Desire to improve and don’t feel like you have to do it all on your own.
2) Try one thing new this week. What is one new thing you can try this week? What about a new instrument? What about a new order for the service? What about a new arrangement for a song? Maybe try a new way to pray with your team before the worship time this weekend. What about a new way to invite people to respond? How about being more upbeat during the leadership greeting this Sunday? How about a creative scripture reading as an intro to a song?
3) Be creative with older songs. I have found that some people equate relevant with new. That’s not always the case and in some cases, even dangerous. There are older songs – 20 years old to 200 years old – that have depth, power, and meaning. We can be creative as we sing them. Recently, I have been singing hymns – drum roll please – with no creative bounce, bridge, or new chorus. We’ve just been having the band play along while we sing three or four verses of an old hymn. People really seem to engage. Sometimes, just bringing out the old is new again.
4) Invite new people to participate. Nothing changes the energy level in your ministry team than when a new person gets involved. How do new people become involved in the ministry with you? Are you actively seeking new worship band and worship ministry members? Are there clear entry points for people to get involved in the ministry? Do you have a friend you can invite to come to be a special guest musician?
5) Build community in your group. The group that plays together, plays well together. I just made that up. But it’s true – the more community and connection, the more cohesive and creative your worship team will become. How are you building your ministry team? Over the years we have tried a variety of ways to build community. I’ve learned just changing it up here and there seems to work. Sometimes, we have dinner and a meeting together. Other times, we meet before rehearsal to pray and talk. At times we have used these Culture Building Conversation Cards.
6) Pray as a worship team. Pray before and after rehearsals and worship services. As John Wesley said, “prayer is where the action is.” There is a need to pray and we should never take it lightly. We need to pray because we need to put our trust in God. We need to hear from God. We need to align our spirit with Him. And we need to model childlike dependence. Pray for your team, ministry and church in private and in public. And teach your team members to be pray-ers. Invite one or all of them to pray during one of those times. If you are reading this email and you serve in worship ministry, I typically pray for you on Thursdays.
7) Make planning a priority. One of the jobs of the worship leader is to figure out a way to plan. Create the needed systems – as simple or complex as they need to be – to help your pastor and ministry team stay ahead and planned. Planning is the difference between blah and powerful. Invest the needed time to get there. Take a listen to this podcast on Advance Planning.
8) Invest in coaching or training. One of the best things I’ve done over the years was to invest in Monthly Worship Leader Coaching. It was really a growing season as I took time monthly to work on the ministry God has called me to and not just in it. Coaching allows you to get above for a different perspective on your current state and your vision for the future.
9) Share your dreams. Talk about the vision you have for the worship team. Enlist others to use their gifts to accomplish the vision. Probably, you are already doing too much, and the next phase is going to have to happen through people you empower. Open the door for them to take a more active role.
One book I read recently was Engage: A Guide to Creating Life-Transforming Worship Services by Jason Hatley and Nelson Searcy. This may be of help to you.