1) Start with a Song No One Knows – There’s no surer way to lose everyone than by starting off with a song people aren’t familiar with. Everyone will just be staring at you or closing their eyes & listening. While that’s not the worst thing in the world, people will engage much better when you start with something they can sing to. The difficult thing is figuring out a song that everyone knows since every place is different.
2) Change the Key a Lot – This is a life saver. Don’t play 5 songs that are all in different keys. By the time everyone is engaged you don’t want to switch to a different key & lose everyone. If you stay in the same key for awhile it will keep the momentum going. Now if you’re going to play one song for 30 minutes, it’s a different story. But if your songs are only going to be about 10 minutes each, try and keep a few of them in the same key.
3) Sing “Prophetically” For Too Long – The goal of worship leading is to help people look at God, not for people to look at us. If you sing prophetically for too long everyone will get distracted because they’re not looking at God anymore. When you feel led to sing something that’s not part of the song, break it up a bit by singing prophetic choruses that everyone can sing with. That way you can go back & forth from singing prophetically to singing choruses, & back to the song if you want. If you sing prophetically for a long time without choruses, people usually start getting distracted.
4) Rush Through Your Songs – This is the opposite problem of #3. Don’t rush! We need to be patient & give time to wait on the Holy Spirit. If we’re over focused on our song list we’ll forget that the Holy Spirit may want to do something totally different. When we’re too rigid with our song list we miss an opportunity for Jesus to direct the worship.
5) Get Frustrated Because People aren’t Engaging – Even when we sing the songs perfectly & are completely in tune with the Holy Spirit, it’s still up to every individual to open their hearts & worship Jesus. When we start getting preoccupied with how people aren’t worshiping we’ll stop worshiping ourselves. When that happens the atmosphere in the room will get really dead really fast. Our job is to worship Jesus & to do our best to bring everyone with us. If it’s not anointed & people aren’t getting touched it’s no big deal. You did your part.
6) Sing Extremely Complicated, Prophetic Choruses – Sure, everyone will be amazed at how talented you are by your ability to sing all kinds of notes & make them all rhyme but if they can’t sing it, after a while it becomes a show instead of a worship service. We want to use the talents that God gave us & there will be times to. Let’s just remember that we’re trying to lead people in worship to Jesus, not just trying to sing & play cool music.
7) Envy Other Worship Leaders – It’s not healthy to measure yourself by how anointed the other person who leads worship is. Live before God’s eyes. Don’t try to be someone else when you play & sing. Be you. That expression is part of God’s glory.
8) Have an Un-teachable spirit – Part of leading is learning. If we don’t receive instruction from others we’ll never grow in worship leading. People on the team will have different opinions & different styles. It’s important to learn from them & listen to them. If you have singers singing with you, try not to step all over them. Give them room to sing. Adjust your style if necessary. Humility is the most important attribute of a good worship leader.
9) Stop Enjoying the Music – It’s fun to remember that God loves music. In fact, He loves it so much that He put it in His throne room to listen to all the time (Rev 4 + 5). He is the ultimate musician & the ultimate singer. It’s no coincidence that humanity loves music so much. God put it in us. God made the human spirit musical. He loves it when we use music to glorify Him.