Leading Worship

A Word about Leading Worship

Although it is people who engage in worship, worship is an act or event that is directed toward God. The worship leader is coordinator, leader, and occasionally even commentator throughout a service. All three of these roles are designed to help a congregation participate in worship. Not everyone is equally gifted or even comfortable in all three roles, but it helps to remember that leading worship is not a performance. It stems from the desire to worship with others. Acts of leadership in worship should be allowing the congregation’s focus to be directed to the One whom we worship.

This means making the acts of worship understandable to those who are new to the congregation or when there are new things going on in worship and clearly communicating even with the regulars what is happening, when and how. It means making connections between the elements of worship in a meaningful way. It means creating a feeling of flow between worship acts so that attention is on worship. Occasionally it means adapting to the unexpected or to surprising interjections in a grace filled way.

This can feel like a lot of pressure, but below are some tips, helps, and things to keep in mind. If something unexpected or not according to plan happens, or if there is a need to improvise remember that both God and the gathered community are full of grace and the Spirit often works in the imperfections. “We come together as worshipping communities, not because we are perfect, but precisely because we are not. So, week after week, we gather to ‘draw the holy into life.’ We expect to hear, to taste, to see to touch, to remember, and to imagine God in our lives.” May all who lead worship be blessed in their imagining of God, and may each one be a blessing in the congregation as we gather to hear, see, taste and touch.

Janet Walton, quoted in Karmen Krahn and Leslie James, Proclamation by Design: The Visual Arts in Worship, Scottdale PA: Faith and Life Press, 56.

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