expressive worship

Baby Steps

Recently I posted a blog  (‘I’m a Worship Leader – Help!’) which addressed the unique issues that come along with becoming a new or transplanted worship leader.

I wanted to continue this discussion a bit, so I got on the phone with my friend Jay who took on that role at a new church a few years ago.

He was excited about this new position and had ideas for lots of change, but knew he would need to take baby steps.

His first order of business, as I suggested in my first blog was to call a meeting with the entire worship team to spend time getting to know them. He created a regular devotion time where there was time for sharing and prayer before rehearsal.

In looking at his team, he saw there was a broad age range in players and singers, so to foster unity and growth, he paired younger players with older ones who can mentor them. I loved this! This can work the opposite way too… the younger ones can keep the older ones tuned into new music, new technology etc.

One of the next baby steps Jay took was to get the pastor’s mic sounding good! Not something you think you’d find in the ‘Worship Leader Manual’ of things to do, right? (Because OUR version of the manual would say, ‘Start by showing the team all the cool songs I want to do!’) Little things like this, as well as having a servant’s heart, go a long way. And even though this wasn’t the reason he did it, I’m sure it was a great way to get the pastor on his team from the start.

Jay also spent time getting familiar with the songs the team was already doing. When you’re new, you can’t just barrel in and throw out all the old songs, even if they’re horrible. (MY word, not his!) Baby steps. When it comes to choosing new material, he looks at the lyric first and makes sure the gospel is central, choosing songs that sing truth TO God. Not just eluding to truth.

His litmus test is 1) lyrics, 2) singability and 3) preference. Great grid to run your songs through. No matter HOW much you’re dying to do the newest song that just came out, if the congregation can’t join in and sing it, don’t use it for corporate worship. Use it as a special during communion, or as an opener before the service starts.

Stayed tuned for more of my insights from Jay! In the meantime, I’d like to hear if some of this resonates with YOUR worship leader experience. Consider getting your team plugged into getting expressive with their worship and book a worship training day at your church!

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Amy Wolter

Amy has vast and varied experience in music, from keyboardist to lead singer, from songwriter to producer. She fronted a nationally touring Christian rock band that garnered some top 10 CCM hits. Playing in a variety of venues and churches gave her a real understanding of what audiences and congregations connect with. As a member of her church’s worship team, Amy understands the challenges that come with this, and enjoys helping Christian artists and Worship Teams create freedom in the room to truly express their worship.

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  1. Angie says:

    This is great, Amy! Not enough worship leaders/pastors take this seriously. I’ve watched some do this terribly wrong and in doing so have alienated people whose only gift/area of service is music. THOSE people desperately search for another place to serve in the church. When they don’t find the right spot (remember, that was supposed to be in music), they eventually decide that their gift is not useable. As shepherds of the flock God has given us, may we be diligent to lead with wisdom and integrity.

  2. Jodi says:

    Hi, Amy. Thank you for all your wonderful insight. I wonder if you would kindly write an article that discusses making eye contact with the congregation. I typically find that when I try to make eye contact with people in a worship setting, they avert their eyes quickly. It’s as if they DON’T want to make that connection. In terms of how long to maintain eye contact with someone, where is that line between appropriate and creepy? I hope I’m making sense. Thank you!

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