Song Leading 101

This is about leading congregational singing.  The basic thoughts could apply to leadership in general (see point #5).

I’m not fond of the title “Song Leader.”  I like “Worship Leader” better.  So, the first thing is,

1.  Don’t just be a Song Leader.

This is more than a production,  It’s more than a good song.  It’s more than the sound.  It’s about the meaning.  An insightful brother recently said to me that he isn’t into instrumental worship any more.  Why?  Because he isn’t about getting into the emotion via the instruments.  It’s about getting into the real meaning of the songs through the words.  Now, the song leader should bring out the meaning of those words.  He should get to the heart of worship.

2.  Dig deep into the Story.

This means…

  • Being thankful (Colossians 3:16-18).
  • Understanding the meaning  (Ephesians 5:17).
  • Being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).
  • Singing from the heart  (Ephesians 5:18-19).
  • It means getting into the story of what God is doing.

Sing and lead from that place of commitment, passion, and purpose.  Then, bring that deeper story out as you lead people in worship.

3.  Learn the craft.

Yes, there are things to learn about leading songs.   Here are some of them:

  • pitch
  • projection
  • dynamics
  • rhythm
  • singing technique
  • use of hands

This takes time, dedication, and training.  Keith Lancaster is doing a great job with this.  I’m interested in helping with this sort of training as well.  If you’re interesting in talking about that, see my contact page.

Remember:  This isn’t about performance, but it is about excellence.

4.  Excellence comes with preparation.


Justin’s iPhone. La Plancha Restaurant, Managua

Seth Godin has an excellent post on this.  Think about a meal.  It takes only a few minutes to cook, but there are countless hours of prep time.  Washing, cutting, chopping, blending, mixing.  When it comes time to cook, it only takes a few minutes.  But, it really took many hours doing the hard work of prep.  It’s training and preparation that make the difference between a so-so meal and an excellent one.  The same is true for leading worship.

5.  It isn’t about you.

I have a confession to make.  I wasn’t going to include this point.   However, I got some really valuable input from a friend (thanks Blake)!   I think it’s probably the most important point of this whole post.

Remember that this isn’t about you.  You can get so prepared, so well trained, and so knowledgeable that you forget the main thing.  Leading does mean leading from the front…but you can’t just run off and leave the folks you’re trying to lead!  You can’t get so advanced in music that you disconnect yourself from the people you’re leading.  Remember that you are leading others.  It isn’t about you.  It’s about other people.  It’s about your fellow worshipers.   Because of that, you must lead them in a way that they can follow!  You must connect with them!  Not only that, but it isn’t just about them.  It’s really about God.

So, don’t get so wrapped up in yourself and getting “good” at leading that you forget the people you lead and the reason you’re doing it in the first place.

Key Element

What do you think about the title “Song Leading 101”?  I was tossing around a few.  I chose this one because I wanted to talk about fundamental elements of leading worship.   This sort of implies I am an expert.  Truth is, I do know some about this topic, but I want to learn more.  I want to grow.  If anything, I think that’s the key element in leading worship or leading anything really.  Are you willing to grow?  Are you willing to learn?  You can’t lead if you’re standing still.

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