Approaching God through Thanksgiving, Praise
and Worship 2000 Rick Stokes
Scripture tells us that God is looking for two
•· The Lost, (Luke 19:10) 10For the Son of man
is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
•· Those that will worship Him in Spirit and
Truth (Jn 4:23,24) 23But the hour cometh, and now
is, when the true worshippers shall worship the
Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh
such to worship him. 24God is a Spirit: and they
that worship him must worship him in spirit and in
God made us for His pleasure (Rev 4:10,11) 10The
four and twenty elders fall down before him that
sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for
ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the
throne, saying, 11Thou art worthy, O Lord, to
receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast
created all things, and for thy pleasure they are
and were created.
And He fervently desires fellowship with us.
He wants to meet with each one of us on a heart
to heart level. That’s what He created us for!
We need the very same thing as well - Without this
communion, our relationship with God grows cold
So how do we approach God Almighty?
For a start, we need to be In Relationship with
Him: Believing that Jesus Christ died on the
Cross for our sins, that He rose again from the
dead; Repenting (i.e. turning away from) from our
sins, then Receiving Him as Saviour and Lord.
This, when done genuinely, guarantees that our
sins are forgiven and our name gets written in the
Lamb’s book of life (God’s Family Album).
There is a Process - not a dead tradition - an ever
fresh and living way of coming near to God.
Although His grace allows times of emergency
prayer, in general, He’s given us a Protocol for
coming near to Him:
Ps 100:4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving,
and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto
him, and bless his name.
Eph 5:18-20 And be not drunk with wine, wherein
is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19Speaking
to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual
songs, singing and making melody in your heart
to the Lord; 20Giving thanks always for all things
unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord
Worshipping in Spirit:
The act of worship is a spiritual thing: it takes
place at a deep, heart level. It is an intimate thing
that usually takes time to happen, similar to the
act of intimacy experienced by a married couple.
Thanksgiving and Praise, often even in
adverse circumstances or bad moods, is a
sacrifice that we willingly give to God our Creator.
Jer 33:11 11The voice of joy, and the voice of
gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the
voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say,
Praise the LORD of hosts: for the LORD is good;
for his mercy endureth for ever: and of them that
shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of
Heb 13:14 15By him therefore let us offer the
sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the
fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
We give God praise if only for the reason that He
is worthy of it, regardless of our temporary and
changing feelings and surroundings. As we
obediently offer up this sacrifice to the Father, He
comes to inhabit the praises of His people (Ps
22:3) and His presence becomes tangible to His
people, or experienced. We call this manifest
presence of God, “The Anointing,” speaking of
the anointing oil used in Scripture to symbolise
the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
It is at this stage that it usually becomes
easier to praise God. Often our resistance and
unwillingness to praise begins to weaken; the evil
spirits that may have been oppressing or
deceiving us begin to lose their grip; even people
in the meeting who are completely “shut down” or
in rebellion to God often find their defenses
crumbling against this wonderful sense of the
love and power of God. No longer is it such a
sacrifice, or effort to open our mouths in praise.
Worship in Spirit usually begins when God
reveals Himself to us; then heart-felt outpourings
begin to be drawn from within us, to the Lord.
Singing and praying in the Spirit (tongues) are
especially appropriate in these times. (1 Cor 14:15
What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I
will pray with the understanding also: I will sing
with the spirit, and I will sing with the
This is the source of the joy that we are
commanded to have “always” (Phil 4:4) Joy isn’t
something we psych ourselves into – it is the fruit
of obediently offering praise to God. The joy of the
Lord is our strength (Neh. 8:10) and Jesus also
equates the Hebrew word for strength (Psalm 8:2)
with Praise (Matt 21:16)
Praying in the Spirit is not something we just dust
off on Sundays either. (Eph 6:18 “Praying always
with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit”) I
believe this is an important part of the true
communion with God that He intends us to have.
God loves to have fellowship with us in worship.
(2 Chron 16:9) For the eyes of the LORD run to
and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew
himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart
is perfect toward him.
This enables us to have fellowship with one
another. (1 Jn 1:6,7) 7But if we walk in the light, as
he is in the light, we have fellowship one with
another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son
cleanseth us from all sin.
This is where true unity is born, not the false
unity of finding the lowest common denominator
in a group of people.
Praising and worshipping God in private is the
lifeblood of our relationship with Jesus. In a
corporate congregational setting, the more people
who are able, practised and willing to worship in
Spirit, the greater degree of anointing is generally
available to the church.
This is the time when God’s Holy Spirit, the
Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, loves to lead us into
all truth, to reveal the truth of His love for us, to
edify, exhort and comfort us with words of
prophecy and prophetic songs, to manifest His
healing power and deliver people from demonic
powers and deception.
I believe that MUSIC IS AN INTERFACE – a
connecting medium to bring us into God’s
Online with God – e.g. the little TV screens on the
bottom right of computer monitor, that tell us we
are on-line, and show us that data is flowing back
and forth between the two computers.
In a place of being in the midst of intimate,
anointed worship, there is information flowing
back and forth between God’s heart and ours.
That’s the process of intimacy, where we are
edified, changed, transformed.
This is when God’s Grace (His empowering
presence) is freely available and tangible, to
change us into who He wants us to be, and to
equip us to get the job done.
These times of intimacy with God are vital to
the life of every Christian. Imagine how long a
marriage would last where every morning the
husband and wife would come out of their
separate rooms and shake hands. Before long
their relationship would grow stale and cold. The
church of the Western world is full of Christians in
Worshipping God in Truth:
It is important to sing songs that are true:
scripturally sound, and bringing glory to God. Are
the songs you sing focusing on people, or God?
Are they exalting Jesus, or just talking about us?
As a worship leader you need to be wise in
choosing the right songs. More about this later.
Without holiness shall no man see the Lord (Heb
12:14) Those that live a holy life will be able to see
the Lord; not just in heaven at the end of your life,
but will be able to recognise His hand and His
ways in this life.
Without a life submitted to God, keeping short
accounts with Him, we aren’t any use to a
Worship team, but rather a hindrance. No amount
of spectacular performance can achieve what
simple worship in truth can. In fact, I believe God
hates outward performance, when there is known
sin hidden inside. This is the heart and soul of
Religion. An outward show, when the inward parts
are full of uncleanness.
Is 29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as
this people draw near me with their mouth, and
with their lips do honour me, but have removed
their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is
taught by the precept of men:
Amos 5:21 I hate, I despise your feast days, and I
will not smell in your solemn assemblies.
Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your
meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I
regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts.
Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs;
for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. 24But let
judgment run down as waters, and righteousness
as a mighty stream.
God desires and requires us to worship Him in
Hindrances to Worship
Sometimes, unfortunately, the presence of the
Lord is not experienced by congregations or
individuals, for reasons like:
•· a lack of praise (there are less and less
songs of praise to God sung these days, and
more and more songs about “me and my
•· not giving God room to move; we often fall
into the trap of slotting praise into tight timetables
where God isn’t welcome or free to turn up. We
must remember that He is God, not us, and He will
turn up when He wants to, not when our formulas
or time slots dictate.
•· Leadership not wanting the Holy Spirit
shining His spotlight around in the meeting;
because of hidden sin, prejudice against the
manifestations of the Holy Spirit, fear of the
unknown, or resistance to change. If you find
yourself in this situation, remember that the
anointing oil flows downward, not upwards. It’s
not your job to resurrect your dead leaders. Pray
for them, yes.
God wants, fervently desires us to come into His
presence. He desires fellowship and intimacy with
us His people – He created us for this!
God, however, is an awesomely powerful and Holy
Being, who will not tolerate sin in His presence.
He has made a way – paid the ultimate price for us
to be able to come near to Him – sending Jesus
His precious Son, to die for us. We have a
dumping place for the sin that has beset us for so
long – a divine eraser of all the sin we confess to
God – the blood of Jesus Christ.
Having surrendered totally our old life to Him,
believing in our hearts that God raised Jesus up
from the dead, we can confidently confess the
Lord Jesus before men – unashamed of the
reproach of Christ.
We can boldly come into His presence – the King
Of Kings! – much like the president’s children
walking into a high-level meeting and hopping up
onto the president’s knee.
We are built to praise Him, to publicly give Him
the glory He deserves, and as we do, He comes to
inhabit these praises, and meets with His beloved
Bringing Your Church to a Higher Level of Worship
All of us want to become better worshippers and in turn lead our
congregations to a higher level of worship. Here are a few thoughts
gleaned from 20 years of leading worship in dozens of denominations,
cultures and languages.
1. Start where the people are. Begin with songs they know and love
and worship God with those songs. Gradually introduce new
songs that especially lead people to worship. Make sure that you,
your musicians, and your sound people are doing a good job
musically with the songs.
2. Be a great role model for your worship band and congregation.
People learn by watching and if you’re the leader that means
they’re watching you. Make sure you’re just not leading songs but
that you’re worshipping God as you sing and play. Know the
music so well that you don’t have to think about it. Rehearsal time
is for learning songs and worship time is for worshipping. Be
sensitive and loving to the people you lead. If they sense that you
love them and they feel God’s presence in the worship, they’ll be
glad to follow you.
3. Ask your senior pastor to teach on worship. As people realize that
singing, shouting, clapping hands, raising hands, instrumental
music, bowing down and other acts of worship are in the Word,
they will be more open to doing it themselves. Encourage the
other ministry staff and your worship team to be great models of
worship. People generally take their worship cues from their
4. Make sure your walk with the Lord is strong. Make sure your
worship team’s walk with the Lord is strong. Are you spending
daily time with God in prayer, reading the Word and loving
people? God’s power in your worship time is directly proportional
to God’s power in your daily life.
Three Keys to a Great Worship Rehearsal
One of the things that I’ve learnt over 18 years of
church music ministry and 6 years of traveling is how
to get the most our of my rehearsal time. In my last
two and a half years of traveling and ministering
around the world, I’ve had to work with a new worship
band every second week and I’ve often had very little
rehearsal time. It teaches you how to be organized.
Here are three quick points to remember when
preparing for a rehearsal.
1. Pick great songs
One of the secrets to worship leading is picking
great, anointed worship songs. Great songs are
easy to play and sing, help the singers focus on
God quickly, and have the special touch of God
on them. Great worship songs agree with God’s
Word. A great song for your worship band will be
within their ability to play well. It will be a song
that your congregation loves to sing and worship
2. Be prepared.
Musicians are often notorious for not being
o I make sure all my charts are ready and
clear. It’s important to have all the copies
ready and on the respective music stands
before the rehearsal starts.
o I pick songs that can be easily learned in the
time that I have to rehearse. I make sure I
know the songs backwards and forwards.
The most important parts of the song are the
intros, form and endings. You should also
know when you want the different
instruments and vocals to come in on that
particular song. If you have time, playing a
recording of the song really helps. Musicians
learn more from listening than almost any
o It’s also important to know the drum and
bass patterns for the song. Another very
important area that is overlooked is the exact
tempo. I write the metronome markings
down and if there is any doubt, I pull out a
metronome to double check the tempo.
o I also make sure I know what is happening in
all the vocal parts. My charts have all the
vocal parts written down so I can easily help
any singer learn their part easily.
3. Lead the rehearsal with energy
Good leadership is the key to a great rehearsal
and worship time. If you are prayed up, prepared
and full of enthusiasm and energy, you will have
a good rehearsal.
I always try to start my rehearsals on time, keep
them moving quickly, have fun, find ways to
encourage the band and try to communicate what
needs to be done in the clearest possible way.
Rehearsals are mainly about learning the music,
but if God comes down in my rehearsal time, I won’t
hesitate to spend time worshipping. It’s the
presence of God that makes the biggest difference
in our worship. If we just sing songs without God’s
presence, it’s really just noise. God makes the
Ten Ways to Improve Your Worship Team
1. Model worship
Real worship is contagious. As you follow after God
and really worship Him, you are teaching your
worship team to worship. Your actions speak much
louder than your words. When people realize that you
are passionate about God and passionate about
worshipping Him, it will motivate them to seek that
passion for their own lives. Jesus taught by example.
He preached, cast out demons and healed the sick.
What did his disciples do? They preached, cast out
demons and healed the sick. If Jesus had just talked
about it and not done it, they never would have
learned. They learned by following His example.
You life, especially your relationship with God and
your passion for worshipping Him will speak volumes.
By all means teach about worship, but more
importantly live it out. When people see you
worshipping and praising God with your whole heart,
it will spark a hunger in them.
2. Model musical excellence in your worship
Good musicians have a way of helping other
musicians come up to their level. It doesn't happen
overnight, sometimes it takes months and years. If
you continually model excellence with humility, it will
inspire you musicians to a higher level.
3. Encourage your musicians to take lessons on
I've seen whole groups improve dramatically as they
all decided to take lessons and improve. Find out who
are the best teachers in your area and take lessons.
It’s always great to have a Christian teacher but if
none are available find the best teacher, whoever
they are. Great music principles can be learned from
4. Constantly put great new worship songs in
front of them.
A fresh flow of great music will inspire your musicians.
Nothing will sap their motivation faster than just
playing the same old stuff over and over. There is so
much great music available. The leader just needs to
do his or her homework and listen to the great
worship recordings that are available.
5. Give them tapes and CD's of the music you
want them to learn in advance.
One of the main ways musicians learn is by copying
other musicians. Most musicians learn easier from
listening than by reading music.
6. Give your musicians well prepared charts.
I never go to rehearsals without full charts for the
songs that I'm going to do. This can be as basic as
just having the words typed out with the chords
marked over them in appropriate places, to having
proper melody and harmony lines written out in proper
musical form. In 1993 I decided to write full vocal,
rhythm and brass charts out for my worship band and
it made a huge difference. The players reading ability
increased dramatically and the overall sound
improved many times over.
Since then I have written over 500 charts of which
350+ are available online at www.praisecharts.com.
What started as charts just for my band is now
blessing thousands of churches around the world.
7. Have great rehearsals.
There is no substitute for good rehearsal time. Expect
full participation in rehearsals and demand
excellence. I try and treat my players like
professionals. Professionals are expected to show up
on time and be ready to play at the appointed time.
Don’t waste your musician’s time. Their time is just as
valuable as yours. It goes back to the Golden Rule,
treat others as you want to be treated. I don’t want to
feel like an evening of mine has been wasted
because someone didn’t do the proper preparation. If
the musicians see that the rehearsals are energized
and valuable they will make time in their lives to
Keep your rehearsals well paced. Always have more
music ready than what you have time to rehearse. If
you feel things dragging, shift to something different.
8. Work on getting a great vocal sound.
Investing time into your vocalists will pay off with rich
rewards. As they are trained to sing with excellence,
they will be more equipped to lead with confidence
and sing from their hearts. Here is a quick list of
things to consider.
When you work with the vocalist make sure they are
doing the following things correctly.
• Singing in tune
• Holding the notes the same length
• Singing the proper rhythm
• Breathing in the same place
• Memorizing the music
• Enunciating the words correctly
• Singing the right harmonies and melody
• Listening and adjusting to blend properly
• Not rushing the tempo or dragging
• Using proper microphone technique
• Smiling and using good body language on the
• Remind the singers to worship as they sing
9. Develop a great rhythm section.
Getting a great rhythm sound from part-time
musicians can be challenging. Here are a number of
areas to work on.
• Make sure all the instruments are tuned properly:
• Make sure everyone listens to each other:
• All players need to develop a good sense of time.
• Decide which instrument will be the lead sound
on that particular song.
• Use metronomes to count off the songs.
• Each player should know how to read a basic
• A rhythm section needs to develop a wide range
of understanding for different musical styles.
• Rhythm sections also need to learn to play by
. 10. Teach on worship
Our job as leaders is to make disciples. As musicians
we want to not only train people to be good musicians
but also great disciples of Jesus. Learning to be a
worshipper is a life long calling. Teach your musicians
about worshippers and worship in the Bible.
Encourage them to read books on worship. Bring
them to conferences where there are great
worshippers and worship leaders. Show them videos
and DVD’s of great worshipping churches. Most of all,
teach them to fall in love with Jesus every day. True
worship grows from our love relationship with the King
of King and the Lord of Lords
Ten Ways to Improve Your Worship Leading
1. Study under a great worship leader:
This is the best way to learn and it can take on many
forms. Jesus used this method to teach His disciples.
If you have a good mentor in your church, watch them
and learn from them. In this situation you can watch
them in a weekly worship setting. Tell them that you
are interested in learning, study what they do. Study
what makes them successful and learn from their
strengths and weaknesses.
If you’re not blessed with a good mentor in your local
church, search out a mentor. This can take many
forms. You can go to worship conferences and watch
the leaders and attend their classes. You can go to
local worship events and watch leaders. You can
attend other churches as the opportunity arises and
note what each church does well (and not so well).
You can also buy videos of worship leaders and note
their different styles and ways of leading.
2. Make worship a daily part of your life
Anything that you do daily, you improve on. Spending
time with God on a daily basis is a basic prerequisite
for being a worship leader. This should include daily
time in the Bible. I would suggest that you read a
Psalm and a Proverb every day and I use a daily
reading plan that takes me through the whole Bible
I once worked with Billy Graham and he said that no
matter how busy he got he always read at least one
Psalm and Proverb everyday. Reading a psalm each
day will give you insight into what the biblical worship
leaders have gone through. You’ll notice that they
have their good days and bad days. You’ll notice their
passion and trust in God. You’ll notice that they also
have victories and defeats like most people.
The Proverbs will give you insight into human
behaviour. One of the most crucial areas of leading
worship is relating to people. You can’t be a leader
without people. Proverbs gives great wisdom into
relationships, finances, work ethics and a host of very
important areas that all leaders must deal with.
Reading the whole Bible every year will give you an
overview of what God is saying to man. I’ve read the
Bible through every year for the last 20 plus years and
I learn something new every time. God’s Word has a
way of being relevant for the situation that you’re
going through right now.
Another important part of spending time with God is a
prayer life. Prayer is better if you spend more time
listening than talking. The well known pastor Dr. Cho
of Korea, who pastors a church of a million people,
said that the key to his prayer life was ‘I pray and I
obey’. The key to prayer is finding out what God
wants you to do and doing it. That comes through
reading His Word and listening to the His Holy Spirit
daily for direction.
A prayer list and journal can also be a great asset to a
life of prayer. Keep a record of things that you are
praying about and note when God answered them. I
keep a list of areas that I’m praying about and note
each time God answers my prayers. Keeping track of
answered prayer helps your faith to grow.
As you spend time with God daily, you will know Him
better and love Him more and your passion for
worshipping Him will increase. The best worship
leaders worship much more privately then they do
publicly. Your public ministry should only be the tip of
3. Learn the great worship songs
God is birthing great songs around the world. There
has never been a better time to learn worship songs.
We now have access to great songs and recordings
from around the world. There are great songs from
Canada, Australia, England, South Africa, America
and many other parts of the world. We have
hymnbooks full of songs from our spiritual heritage
and songbooks full of the new songs that God has
been birthing this century. Learn the old songs and
the new songs. Find the songs that God’s Spirit is
resting on. Find the songs that are blessing the
I personally try to buy every new songbook and
worship CD that comes out. I have a Maranatha
Collection, a Vineyard Collection, a Hosanna Integrity
Collection, a Hillsongs Collection, a Worship Together
Collection, a Praisechart Collection, a hymnbook
collection and various other songbooks. I use songs
out of them all. There is no one organization that has
the corner on God’s songs. Each publisher has a
slightly different slant and style. It’s great to be able to
incorporate all of that into the local church.
A good place to find out the most popular worship
songs is to look at the lists that Christian Copyright
Licensing International (CCLI) has compiled. They
track the songs that are sung in most English
speaking countries. Their lists, from over 160,000
churches, will give you a good indication of what the
Body of Christ is singing around the world. Their lists
tends to favour the songs that have been around for a
while but it is still a good place to start. If you have
access to the internet go to www.ccli.com and check
out their website.
Another good resource is Praisecharts.com. There
are over 350 charts of the most popular worship
songs of our time.
Take time to memorize these songs. I’ve memorized
hundreds of hymns, choruses and new worship songs
and it is amazing to see how they enrich your life and
One of the keys to leading a great worship service is
to pick great worship songs. A great worship song will
almost lead itself. All you have to do is sing along and
worship. Different songs have different purposes.
Don’t pick a song just because it sounds great on a
recording. Find songs that cause people to set their
hearts on God.
4. Understand the progression of worship
Psalms 100:4 says I will ‘I will enter His gates with
thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. God
likes it when we come before Him with singing. One of
the most common ways to begin a worship service is
with songs of thanksgiving. These songs are often
songs that are sung about God as opposed to songs
that sing directly to God. They are often (but not
exclusively) faster songs that are more praise
orientated. It often takes time for the general
congregation to get warmed up in a worship service
and starting with thankful upbeat songs is often the
best way to start a service. Worship leaders shouldn’t
get in the habit of using formulas to program the
service. Starting with more upbeat songs is just a
general observation. A worship leader should always
listen to what God wants for them to do in that
particular moment and situation.
People often come to services with their minds on
anything but God. A leaders responsibility is to help
everyone focus on why they really came to church in
the first place: that is to meet God. Having a
progression in the worship service can help people to
set aside other distractions and focus on God.
The progression of songs often goes from general
upbeat songs that talk about God and give thanks to
Him to songs that talk directly to God. When we sing
songs that talk directly to God we are beginning the
progression toward worshipping Him. The term
‘Praise and Worship’ indicates that general trend of
going from praise about God to worship to God.
5. Understand the importance of worship in the
The largest book in the Bible is a songbook (the
Psalms). There are songs sprinkled throughout the
Bible. Some of the greatest men of God were
songwriters. Moses, David and Solomon are among
the most prolific. God is looking for people to worship
him. In John 4:23-24, Jesus said ‘But the hour is
coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will
worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father
seeks such as those to worship him. God is spirit, and
those who worship him must worship in spirit and
truth." God loves worshippers. King David was called
a ‘man after God’s own heart’. He was also one of the
chief songwriters of the Bible and a man who loved to
worship God. In spite of his failures, his desire was to
be close to God and worship was one of the best
ways for him to express that.
6. Learn a musical instrument
Playing a musical instrument is of great help in
worship. Most great worship leaders play an
instrument. It is not a prerequisite but it is of great
help. The two main instruments for a leader are the
guitar and the keyboard. Piano generally takes longer
to be proficient at, so I suggest that people who take
up an instrument later in life should take up the guitar.
Obviously the earlier in life that you start playing an
instrument the better chance you have at being
proficient at it.
If you’re just starting to learn an instrument, I suggest
that you find yourself a good teacher. A Christian
teacher is preferable but not always available. In any
case, find someone who will teach you not only the
basics of the instrument and reading music, but
someone who will help you to read chord
progressions and help you to accompany yourself as
you sing and worship.
Another great way to learn is just to copy the worship
CD’s that you listen to. Take it song by song, chord by
chord and learn to listen what the keyboard or guitar
player is playing. This is often the most effective way
of learning once you get past the basic stage of
learning an instrument. Copying the players on CD’s
will teach you better rhythm and help you learn a
variety of styles. It will also help you learn relevant
material, the material that you want to use in your
7. Learn to sing to the best of your ability.
Singing is a big part of leading. You don’t have to be
an awesome singer to lead but the more acceptable
your tone, pitch and vibrato is, the less distracting it is
to the congregation. The opposite can also be true,
great singers sometimes don’t make good worship
leaders. They are often too busy vocalizing to
facilitate the average singer in the congregations
Just as taking lessons is an important part of learning
to play an instrument, it’s also important to take vocal
lessons. Most teachers tend to be more classically
trained. They can teach you a lot about breathing,
projection, tone and enunciation. You don’t
necessarily want to copy some of the operatic
tendencies that they may have since modern worship
tends to be more gospel, pop and rock orientated.
Listening to recordings of yourself can be a good way
to learn. It is often discouraging at first since most
people don’t like the sound of their own voice. But, as
you get over that you will hopefully learn to pick out
pitch problems and other weak areas in your singing.
Having a teacher critique you is also a great way to
Another great way of learning to sing is to simply copy
the tone and articulation of your favourite worship
leader on the many CD’s that are available. Copying
other musicians and singers is one of the chief ways
musicians learn. On a side note: it’s best to learn from
a number of different leaders so you just don’t
become a clone of one style and sound.
Leaders should generally just sing the melody. The
leaders voice is usually highest in the vocal mix and if
you sing harmonies it will often throw off weaker
singers in your congregation. It is ok to throw in an ad
lib occasionally but don’t let it become a distraction.
Learning to ad lib in the various musical forms is an
art form, use good taste and discretion and listen to
tapes of yourself frequently.
8. Learn a variety of different styles of songs
Variety is the spice of life. A congregation appreciates
variety. The tastes of most congregations represent a
huge spectrum of music. Pop, rock, rhythm and blues,
country, folk, Irish, classical, ballade, Jewish, gospel
and alternative are among the many styles that are
used in worship services. Putting the right style with
the right song can bring the song to life. Learning new
styles can be fun and invigorating. Don’t get stuck in a
rut. Music is constantly changing and we should grow
and change with it. God is not limited to a style.
Classical styled worship music is not more spiritual
then pop styled worship music. It’s the lyrics and heart
of the musicians that define the spiritual depth of a
One of the faults of the church in the past has been
the slowness to change. Churches generally like to
stay with the safe and familiar. It’s been my
observation that the most successful churches are the
ones that stay relevant to the people and the culture
that they minister in. That includes staying current and
relevant in music. That doesn’t mean that you have to
become trendy. I believe that the message of the
Gospel is unchanging but the ways that we
communicate it are constantly changing and growing.
I make it a habit to listen to the songs that the youth
are listening to. I don’t always initially like the style but
I try to see it from a teenager’s perspective. If the
lyrics are projecting biblical Christianity then I try and
look past my personal tastes in music. If we want to
be relevant worship leaders we have to grow with the
new music and styles that God is using in the younger
9. Learn to communicate in front of your
Effective communication comes in many forms. The
way we speak, act and dress, all communicate
volumes to our congregations. Learning to speak in
public is hard for many people. Polls indicate that
speaking in public is many peoples greatest fear.
Worship leaders are not required to speak volumes
but the right word at the right time is very effective.
Worship leaders most always remember that they
aren’t the preacher. Some of the most effective
worship leaders speak very little.
One of the most effective ways to speak is to quote
the Bible. People will more readily accept direction
and change in worship if they are shown it in the
Word of God. This should never be done in a hard or
condescending manner. Teaching and encouraging
God’s people in worship should always be done with
love and respect. Proverbs 25:15 says ‘a gentle
tongue breaks a bone.’ People will be much more
open to direction and change if it is done gently.
Learn to overcome such problems as stuttering or
talking too fast. Learn to speak clearly and succinctly.
Learn good grammar and don’t get in the habit of
using to many clichés. Saying ‘Amen’ and ‘Hallelujah’
every second word usually shows insecurity on the
part of the speaker.
Humility in a worship leader is of paramount
importance. You can’t fake humility, or at least not for
very long. Your body language will speak volumes to
the congregation. If they see a worship leader and
team who are totally yielded to and passionate about
God, they will be more open to that leadership.
Leading with a humble spirit but with authority is an
important balance in effective leadership. People can
usually tell when you’re just ‘going through the
motions’ and when your passionate about God.
The style of clothing that you wear is also relevant to
the message that you are sending your congregation.
There is no one style that is the right style. When I
lead at youth retreats, I lead in jeans and t-shirts.
Sometimes I lead with a sports jacket, sometimes not.
The key is to be relevant to the congregation that you
are leading. I’ve lead in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt
on the beaches of Waikiki and worn a three-piece suit
at major events. Being sensitive to the situation and
congregation is the key. Don’t let your clothes be a
distraction for your ministry. The topic of your clothes
should be the least discussed topic at the Sunday
dinner tables of your congregation.
10. Learn to work well with your pastor
A church will only rise to the level of its pastor. If your
Pastor is a worshipper, the church will soon follow.
Developing a good working relationship and
understanding between the worship leader and the
pastor is of paramount importance. If they don’t share
the same vision, the vision won’t get accomplished.
They will always be pulling in different directions.
I have found it to be helpful to meet at least once a
week with the Pastor to review the last Sunday’s
services and to plan for the next week and weeks to
come. It is also good to meet occasionally in informal
situations (coffee, breakfast, sports activities, etc.) to
continue to develop a good relationship. The Senior
Pastor and the worship leader usually are the most
visible in public ministry. Their ability to compliment
each other can be a powerful asset. If they don’t work
together well then the opposite is true.
There are a number of ways that a Pastor can
facilitate worship in a church. One of them is by
regularly teaching on it. The Bible is full of great
passages on worship and if the Pastor is not
comfortable teaching on the subject there are a
number of good books on the subject from which to
gather resource material.
Another important way for a Pastor to facilitate
worship is to model it. If the Pastor is a wholehearted
worshipper, the congregation will take their cue from
him. If the Pastor is not comfortable with being a
model for worship then it would be good for him to sit
on the front pew rather than on the platform.
Worship leading is a great privilege and challenge. It
is great to be able to point people to God through
worship. Learn to grow in your singing, playing and
leading. Learn to hear God as you lead. Be
passionate in your love relationship with God and the
people in your worship team and congregation.