1. Read… a lot!
It’s kinda horrible watching worship leaders run out of things to say and keep repeating whatever was said last week, and the week before, and the week before… Reading books and blogs is a useful habit to pick up new ideas, fresh insights, and will help put in some thought into what we say… words matter, let’s make them count!
2. Know, understand, and remember
we are not, we are not, we are not, we are not, we are not… the preacher (keep repeating that). Worship leaders need to stop rambling on and on and on before and after every song, and work on other song transitions instead.
Yes, there really are alternatives to speaking/praying between songs… let’s put in some training hours and learn them, our Church is depending on us. In fact, moments of silence are super helpful too!
3. Sing and play from memory
Drop that song/chord sheet you keep look at all the time, it’s distracting the rest of us! Learn everything by heart, so your focus can be on leading worship and people instead of music and songs… trust me, memorizing is not difficult.
4. Seventy times seven? Nope... not what Jesus meant!
Stop that incessant repetition of your favorite line in a song... it's terribly boring, not to mention predictable, and you're all the while beating the poor song to death. There is such a thing as 'vain repetition' and this might just be it!
5. Learn a few new songs
Seriously… those 10-15 songs that some of us keep repeating week after week are just not enough… not even close!
We can buy worship songs for a measly Rs. 12 a piece or whole albums for Rs. 100-120 in iTunes. Buy, listen, and learn a decent range of songs to fit into a variety of themes, your worship sessions will be so much richer.
6. Kill those clichés
We hear and use them all the time, right? “Lord God even as we just sing Lord God even as we just praise Lord God even as we just lift our hands Lord God…” Let’s work on brevity and clarity, no one’s earning any extra marks for word count! If you’re stuck, see (1) again.
And btw, if a worship leader tells me to “sing it like you mean it” one more time, I’m going to fling my Bible at him/her… seriously (OK, maybe not so seriously)!
7. Put a lid on creepy 'Christian' speak
Some of us speak oh so differently when on stage! 'Clap offering' anyone? Or is it 'hand praise' now?! You know what I mean... I'm sure you can come up with more of these! Be conversational, and keep it real, simplicity is the key.
8. Restrain those ad libs
Our role as singers of the main melody cannot be overstated. People look to us most to follow the song's tune. Ad libs therefore, should be more like seasoning on the food—used sparingly for added taste or in our case—expression. If sprayed all over the song, ad libs challenge people's willingness to sing along and distract them from the worship.
In church worship, while there is a place for artistry, there is far more space for simplicity.
9. Use hymns too
While contemporary 4-line choruses are great to sing along, there’s a different realm of depth and beauty in hymn-style songs whether written by today’s Townend/Gettys or those passed on to us from generations past.
Use a hymn every now and then—younger people will learn something grand, and older people will connect with the worship more easily.
10. Dress well
Don’t over-dress so much that people assume you’re probably getting married on stage; don’t under-dress like you’re walking the ramp either.
Yes I know God looks at the heart, but we’re ministering in the midst of people and they will look at our clothes. So let’s take care of what we wear or don’t wear!
11. Practice belonging
Once your worship on stage is done, don't leave. Join your congregation, and continue to worship by listening to the sermon, receiving communion, and so on... you need all of it as much as anyone else attending your Church. In fact, you need to be seen in Church when it's not your turn to lead worship too. A worship leader who's not perceived as belonging to the Church is well and truly a turnoff... not cool!