I’ve been leading worship at the house of prayer here in Tallahassee since 2008. We’ve had many great times of worship, but also plenty of awkward sets where we felt we really missed the mark. Whenever we feel as a worship team that we had a bad set, it brings to question what makes a time of worship good? What makes it successful?
These tips are by no means exhaustive. But I’ve found them to be very helpful to keep in mind as a worship team.
Worship with a sincere heart
First and foremost, worship is a matter of the heart. When a life is surrendered to Christ, worship is always the overflow. A worship set is always personally successful when your heart is sincerely worshipping the Lord.
“Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure (sincere) heart” (Ps. 24:3–4, emphasis and parenthesis mine)
Talk to God
This tip seems like a no-brainer. What is worship if not talking to God in song? But you’d be surprised how many times I find myself checking out. Worship doesn’t always come naturally. Especially when I’m having a bad day, I have to consciously remind myself to talk to God. Even if it’s a simple acknowledgement of God’s presence every few minutes.
“Jesus answered, It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)
Don’t “murder” anyone in your heart, including yourself
Murder is such a strong word used in Matt. 5:21–23. Why include this as a worship leading tip? As Jesus says in Matt. 5:21–23, one who is angry at a brother is in danger of the same judgement of that of a murderer. Anger and bitterness towards someone is—at it’s root, selfish. For example, bitterness says, “how could they do that to me?” Selfishness is the opposite of spirit of worship, which is making much of Christ.
As worship leading is a technical and personal portrayal of our inner thoughts and prayers, it is by default a vulnerable experience. When one makes a mistake, they are prone to think negatively about themselves. Have you ever thought to yourself, “that was so dumb, why did you say that?” This form of self-hatred has no place in our times of worship, because it defies Jesus’ call to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). How can we love our neighbor if we hate ourselves?
“The highest form of worship is the worship of unselfish Christian service.” Billy Graham