I’ve had this for some time now. I was at the Worship Leaders Master Class with Wale Adenuga in Nov. 2014, and here are a few points he talked about and a few things I wrote down in addition at the seminar. I expanded on each point as I gained understanding.
I have a feeling posting it here would help some other worship leaders and worship teams.
- Every generation has a different worship language. The worship language of the 1940s, 1960s, 1990s and 2000s are all different from each other, and they spread across genres and the use of musical instruments. There were times when the organ was the one musical instrument used in churches and folks sang hymns. Over the years other musical instruments like drumset, electric keyboard, bass guitar, electric guitar, saxophone have been added. Also digitally generated sounds like drum machines, pedal board for electric guitars and so much more. Genres too have evovled.
- I’m more important to God than what I have to offer. You’re not trying to do God a favour by your worship. Your relationship with God is fundamental, don’t take it lightly. Don’t be so engaged with worship leading responsibilities that you neglect your personal times of prayer, bible study/meditation, worship, etc.
- Know and understand how God has graced you. Don’t try to be like somebody else. If you’re strong at leading slow worship songs instead of fast tempo/upbeat songs, stick to your strength. Don’t try to sing like a Fuji singer when you don’t know the art. Don’t try to sing like a Rock singer when you don’t know the art. Some folks can lead slow worship songs for hours and be of great blessing to the congregation, some others just can’t do that. Understand your strengths and maximise them.
- Am I substituting ignorance for spirituality? Pay attention to the things you need to learn. If someone needs vocal training or ear training, let him/her be trained. Don’t just say “God can use anyone” and then ignore the need to train the fellow.
- You need a combination of anointing and skill. When God has called you to do a thing, He enables you to do it. That’s anointing. But then, you have to develop your skills. E.g. diction, singing, breath control, breaking predictability, exposure to new trends.
- Worship leader, can you deal with a crisis? Leadership skill is involved in handling crisis during worship sessions. Learn to deal with issues like poor sound production during praise/worship, or singers missing their parts, or technical staff no displaying song lyrics on screens. Take control, improvise.
- Kill assumptions. Ask, Research, Query for understanding. Learn to understand why certain things are done in certain ways. Strife to know more.
- Be efficient. Cut down on non-essentials. Get rid of “riffs n runs”, unnecessary show-off of singing and/or musical skills. It just distracts the congregation focus on you than on singing to God. Most of the time they’re waiting for you to get it over with before they can sing along. Cut down on such.
- Don’t be tempted to always repeat what worked. Try to improvise, be creative, try new ideas – new songs, new medleys, syncopations, intros, interludes, etc.
- Influences for song selection. Ask: What do I want to say to God? Do want to tell him how much you love him; give him thanks; sing about his holiness; celebrate his love; etc.
- Have the boldness to pull some songs out of service. When your worship team has sang some songs repeatedly, too many times, you need to deliberately stop singing them for some time and bring in other songs. The congregation will most likely know it too, that you repeat certain songs too often. Deal with it.
- Build a wide repertoire of songs. Let your song library have as many genres as possible and address as many areas as possible, e.g. prayer, grace, mercy, love, family, help, worship, anointing, Holy Spirit, Father, Jesus, thanksgiving, celebrations, etc.
- Be exposed. Challenge culture. Seek possibilities. Read books, listen to songs, generate news concepts/ideas, look to achieve greater things.
- Are in-house gifts maximised. Help people to grow, especially people in their teenage years. Create avenues to help your worship team grow musically and spiritually.
- Always review service once it’s over. Confront issues ASAP. Review everything that happened in the service as much as possible and work to improve.
- Who are we trying to reach as a church? A church can’t reach everybody. Let your music genres/styles be the type they can easily flow with.
- What’s our reaction time? Need to be spontaneous.
- Worship; its not about the sound, lights or smoke. It’s all about God. Focus and help people focus on Him.
- Keep everyone in the loop. Email lyrics to singers, musicians, technical crew, etc.
- Watch out for your prejudices and preferences. Try to guide against your personal preferred choice of singers, musicians, song genres, song list, etc. just for the sake of it. Get rid of sentiments.
- Handing over. To whom? From whom?
- Don’t count solely on talent and experience. Never be self confident. Don’t think you can do it all. Your team needs the Holy Spirit. Always ask him to take control.
- Don’t waste time. Don’t talk when you should be singing. Don’t waste time on intros, interludes, and getting on the altar.
- Don’t play politics. You’re not on stage to please anyone. Let your mind be focused on pleasing and glorifying God.
- Think. Don’t operate out of default setting.
- Lead seriously. Whether there are 10 or 150 or 1500 people. Always lead passionately & wholeheartedly, regardless of the number of people present.
- Develop a gentle and respectful approach to leading. Don’t shout at the congregation. Don’t say things like “I don’t care what you think”, “You guys can’t do this or that”. Develop a loving, respectful and inspiring approach to engaging everyone.
- Watch what you say and how you say it. Be careful how you address the congregation. You have people of all ages; older and younger than you. Be sensitive, people can have a lot bothering them at the moment.
- Teach new songs with tact. If your church is not a place where you can spend time to deliberately teach the congregation a new song, then you need to do it systematically. You can introduce the “Chorus” only in a service and sing it repeatedly for a few weeks in your services. Later you can add a verse to it or a bridge or vamp, and sing it severally over a few weeks too. Before you know it, you have helped the congregation learn a new song.
- Don’t give too much credit to your brain. Be grateful to God for the grace he has given you. Be thankful to the Holy Spirit. Appreciate your team.
- Be on your guard per over performance.
- Mind the gaps. Maintain flow. Don’t let song intros and interludes distract you or the congregation from focusing on singing.
- Be sensitive. Care for one. Watch out for your team members. Overall team welfare is very imporant. If they are very hungry at the time of rehearsal, it will affect their effectiveness and time spent at rehearsal. You can simply help to meet that hunger need or any other need.
- Play out the experience in the mind. Pursue excellence. Rehearse with imagination, try to practice all the things you will say and the songs you will sing and the intros/interlude. And give it your best.
- Be flexible and adaptive when needed. Ability to adapt to immediate needs or changes in your praise/worship plan will be very useful.
- Be in touch with life and reality.
- Be kind to visiting guest artists. Help when needed. Help with technical matters, mics, musical equipment setup, singing, etc. Help them feel at home.
- See to it that the team is united. Deliberately deal with everything that can cause strife and division. Help your team to work together in love and unity of purpose.
- Get feedback from pastor. It’s important to have your pastor’s view on what you’re doing. He might not be able to put it in exact musical terms, but you’ll have a very good idea of what needs to be done, and it’ll help you to work with him with a unified spirit.
- Are we aware of any issues a member might have? Look out for every member of your team. Pray for each other. Check on each other.
- Excuse me, this is not your former church. Don’t expect things to be like the church you were before. Learn to adapt.
- What you don’t have is not an excuse for not performing. You might not have the best or all the musical instruments you need, but don’t focus on that. Make the best use of what’s available. Creatively improvise to work with what’s available.
- Understand the purpose of mics and speakers. Continuously grow your knowledge and understanding of the mics and speakers you use. This is will help you to use them in the best way possible.
- Quality special music is cheap and easy too. You’ll be surprised the songs and resources you can get for free or for so little via the Internet.
I hope this is useful for you and your worship team.
Ps: Feel free to leave your comments in the comments box below.