by Yancy Richmond
The subject of worship is both simple and complex. I’ve spent the better part of my life studying and being a part of leading worship. Most everyone has worship as a part of their services and programs. We know it should be there but we don’t always help our attendees understand why we do it and what the importance of worship is. I heard Darlene Zschech (composer of Shout to the Lord) speak recently and she said, “as worship leaders we should be releasers of worship.” If you’re singing songs and others aren’t joining in and participating then you may be singing songs well but you’re not releasing worship in your congregation. Here’s a few things I have found to be instrumental in helping me navigate the worship experiences that I lead.
Find ways each week to help your church understand what worship is and how to be a part of giving it to the Lord. We as humans love compliments. We like to hear nice things said about us. We were made in the image of God. He likes to hear us talk about the things He has done and what He means to us. Worship is a chance to express those feelings, using our words, songs, and hands to show surrender and reverence to the Lord. Share a scripture, or a personal moment, i.e., “One Thing Remains” took on new life for me leading it in Phoenix, Arizona, one Sunday. Singing “higher than the mountains that I face” while thinking about the mountains I could see off in the distance made the lyric come alive for me like it never had before. It helped me better understand the greatness and magnitude of what God can do and His faithfulness to us. Share things to help others have those same “aha” moments and connect the dots on why they should offer their praise.
There is freedom in preparation. I once worked for a worship pastor who said, “Practice is what happens at home. Rehearsal is what happens when we’re together.” Each person on the team has to put in the effort on their own to learn the material and prepare. You can’t wait till you’re in the car driving to the church to learn a new song. That will not allow enough time to learn the material. Unless you live really far from your church! J It’s disrespectful to others on the team for you to show up to a rehearsal and not know your part. You should spend rehearsal putting the pieces together, not deciding what the pieces are. Don’t fly by the seat of your pants. Don’t randomly select songs right before it’s time to do them. Set aside time weekly, monthly and quarterly to plan worship sets, pick out new songs, and learn the songs you will lead.
Evaluate often so you remain effective. One of the best hours of my life was spent with a student from our ministry getting feedback on new songs I was considering as well as a report card on songs we had been doing in that particular ministry that year. This student was pretty popular and had a good pulse on what the girls and boys liked and disliked. Her feedback was invaluable as I got a pulse for songs that still were working well live but she admitted, “we’re getting tired of it.” It was great info to know to set that song aside and give it some rest rather than wearing out its welcome and never being able to do it again. Getting feedback from students and leaders will give you a perspective that you just can’t get being on stage with microphone in hand. Evaluating what is working and what isn’t will always help you continue to grow and remain effective.
Do you ever feel like not much growth is happening? It’s easy to feel that way when we are in the middle of things but setting aside time to evaluate allows you to make a list of the improvements made, the participation increased, etc., over the past month, quarter and year. You’ll be encouraged when you realize that you are seeing results from your hard work.
Kids change as culture changes. What worked five years ago may not work as well or in the same way now than it did then. Not relying on past successes and formulas is important to stay current while meeting the needs of the people you are leading now.
Be a great worshiper off stage. I’m conscious of the fact that I can’t only be a great worshiper when I’m the leader. I need to be a great worshiper period. The fact that at times I’m the one leading the worship is part of it but it doesn’t replace my own personal heart and need for giving praise to God. In addition to my personal relationship of worshiping God, I remember the “sow and reap” principle. If I want others to join in and participate with me when I’m the leader, then when I’m being led I need to join in and participate. It doesn’t matter who is leading you or if your talent surpasses theirs. Worship and participate how you would want others to participate when you’re the leader. There is a spiritual principle there that you will gain from, so dive in. Be the first one to get engaged!
Follow David’s example. David is the biggest example of worship that we have in the Bible. He’s not the only example but a big one. One of the things I see about David that we need to do is “circumstance-proof our worship.” It’s not only about praising God when life is good, perfect, and awesome. It’s learning to praise God in all things even when life is hard, broken and we don’t feel like it. Helping your congregation learn about the hiding place they have in the refuge of God is a gift that you can give them to help them in every season of their life.
Give instruction as you lead. Coach and cheer people on to praise God. As we read Psalms we hear David say: “Sing to the Lord a new song. Clap your hands all you people. Shout to God with a voice of triumph.” A great worship leader invites people to the party. Help the boys, girls, men and women you lead to give praise to their Creator the way that He created them to. You’re never too young and you’re never too old to sing and shout God’s praises.
Yancy is an artist, songwriter and worship leader who has shared the stage with some of the music industry’s brightest stars. Her ability to lead all ages in worship is unparalleled. Yancy currently travels the globe sharing her music and leading worship. When she’s not creating and performing music, you can find Yancy working behind the scenes with AmberSkyRecords.com to give direction to the music and content delivered on this site. She and her husband, Cory, and their son, Sparrow, live in Nashville.