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12 Thoughts For And From A Worship Leader

I’ve been leading worship as my primary job for almost 15 years.
Crap.
I’m old.
Every once in a while I like to remind myself of a few things.

1. If you lead regularly in front of thousands, lead regularly in front of 10 or less.
2. If you are leading worship at a church for the first time, don’t you dare spend your time in the green room.
3. If you are leading worship at a church for the 100th time, don’t you dare spend your time in the green room
4. When preparing for your Sunday, work just as hard as what you will say between songs as what you sing during them.
5. First timers and new believers actually WANT to be told what to do. Career Christians HATE being told what to do. So…Tell them all what to do.
6. Learn to lead without using an instrument.
7. If one of your pastors tells you that you are too fat to sing on stage, truthfully, you probably need to lose some weight. And you probably need to go to another church where they let fat and skinny people sing on stage.
8. Watch your sets back on video. Every one of them.
9. Just because you are a worship leader does not mean you are a song writer.
10. Just because you are a song writer does not mean you are a worship leader.
11. Ask the people who attend your church what songs they like to sing and sing those songs.
12. Don’t try to be Joel Houston, Chris Tomlin, or Kim Walker. We already have one of them.  We now need one of you.

It’s better that way,
Los

  • SALBERS

    Nice list Los! I struggled leading for a while trying to be some one else, and as soon as I turned my leading over to God, He started to work through the band I play with.

  • I like what you said on another post that you are not just a worship leader but a “preacher with melody”. And you can’t be anybody else than who God created you to be and be authentic and credible. Spirt and Truth. Much love Bruh.

  • Ben

    Thank Carlos! Just moved churchs to help replant one that has been through some hard times. Keep us in your prayers friend. This post was spot on! -Ben

  • #5 & #11 = GOLD! (all of it was good, but that 15 yrs shows right there). Thanks for the great reminder.

  • Ya now, most of those apply to the musicians as well. I’m a bassist, and I used to just kinda sit in the background, kick it in the green room and whatnot. But then I realized that I can have just as much of a ministry impact before and after sets as the leader. I just need to get off my ass and actually make an effort.

    Good list, los, good list.

  • Truthfully I love all of them! They are the truth. #5,6, and 12 are legit. #6 can be tough for us musician types, where our guitars are our security blankets but it’s great practice to lead without them as well.
    Love #12!

  • Great list. I struggle with talking between songs and not sounding like it’s manufactured or trite. Thanks for putting your honest self out there and leading the way in so many things.

  • Hee hee!

    Christ Tomlin.

    Can’t tell you how many times I’ve typed that by accident.

    He’s good, but he’s not that good.

  • Love this Los!

    Though I admit, I love the time in the Green Room. I don’t think anyone on the worship team should spend all of their time there, but I think there are times when that bonding is necessary.

  • Number 5 is good. I think we (as “career Christians” fail to look at the worship that we are leading through the eyes of a new believer or guest. Definately need the reminder to step back and see it from different perspectives.

    Why do you recomend leading without an instrument occasionaly?

  • Ian

    So simple yet so profound! Of all the encouragement and advice I’ve received over the years as a worship leader, I think this take first place prize. Thanks Los!

  • Matt

    Could you talk more about introducing new songs…especially in the light of “leading songs people want?” are you taking about style or specific songs?

  • Mark

    great thoughts Carlos. Hey, could you do a new “What songs are working for you right now?” That post was gold the last time you did it and sooo helpful!

  • Dude. Thank you. Great list. Encouraging and challenging. It’s good to remember that I’m only supposed to be who Jesus made me to be.

  • I would add to #4 to not forget that there’s still a whole sermon. If you’re telling more than one story at a time between songs, you’ll lose a lot of the audience.

    To #5 I would say that really depends on what you’re saying.

    Great list, Los. 🙂

  • very well said Carlos. very well said. I’ll have to start following you blog now. This was a good slap in the ole face for me.

    kim

  • Dick flores

    Any idea why believers especially stage junkies try so hard to act irreverant, sound calloused and above it all, and copy Axel Rose’s appearance? What if your audiences were blind and they hadn’t learned yet what looks hip, sounds like a “don’t care” attitude, and is as close to the gutter as you can get without falling in?
    Let’s quit trying so hard to be whatever and just relax? Don’t take yourself so seriously! Cut off the AC, go where you’re not famous and folks could really care less. Plenty of chances left dude! There’s a big world out there to touch! Hugs

  • great list bro. #5 is my fave. But I may need to hurt you for #6 and #11!

  • I’ve been leading worship for over 20 years – this list challenges me and I’m gonna steal it and read it regularly….oh yeah, I’ll try and put the list into practice too! 🙂 Thanks Los for being such an inspiration to me, I love your honesty, transparency, and vulnerability!

  • jon

    Los– Here’s another to add. Along with the candles, the low lighting, the cool vibe on stage, add a mop and mop bucket to the stage and attach a toilet bowl brush to the pulpit to remind us that we are to called to be servants, not leaders.
    Just my thoughts,
    Jon

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  • #7 🙂

  • dude… what? Has #7 really happened somewhere in real life???? Man – the church is jacked up for real…

  • What are the benefits of learning to lead without an instrument? I have yet to try it because it makes me feel naked. Maybe that’s the point 🙂

    • I would say maybe it would lend itself to opportunities for more flexibility. Maybe it opens the door for another instrumentalist to be a part of what’s going on.

      I also feel naked when I’m not behind a guitar or keys, but I’m thinking maybe the point has more to do with leading in general than “leading” music?

      Personally, I’d also add to that bullet point, learn to lead without being on stage at all. 🙂

    • jay

      I think it’s taught me to use my whole body to lead, with me arms my hands, my head… It has taught me more about encouraging people to the Lord with my hands and arms and whatnot, and not just through playing my guitar…

      But I’m not sure if that’s all Los has in mind…

      4. is really solid – I think we’ve got to realize that we are leading people the Lord not just leading songs…

      9. and 10. are good realizations.

  • great thoughts, Los!

    “7. If one of your pastors tells you that you are too fat to sing on stage, truthfully, you probably need to lose some weight. And you probably need to go to another church where they let fat and skinny people sing on stage.”

    Haha, love this one. My mind immediately goes to the idea of being disciplined and taking care of our bodies to better serve GOD and our people. Not that being chubby keeps someone from serving, but I’ve found (personally) that including a certain level of physical/dietary discipline as part of my journey has never been a bad thing!

  • Amen. You, sir, are very wise and I love it.

  • Thanks, Carlos. I especially appreciate numbers 9 and 10.

  • “If one of your pastors tells you that you are too fat to sing on stage”

    did someone actually say that to you? Heartbreaking… wow.

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  • Good list. Doesn’t *technically* apply to me as I’m not a worship leader or anything really (I can barely get a good sounding G chord out of my guitar… 😛 ), but I think it actually does apply.
    We all have to be reminded sometimes that we have to be … real servants. Be out there looking for the good of our neighbor, for the good of the person in front of us. It’s not about me. It’s about loving God and loving others. No matter who you are or what you do.
    Love you, Los. Keep doing what you do.
    🙂

  • Thanks for this Carlos!

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  • These is a great list, and even though I’m not a worship leader, I’m challenged. As a pastor, I used to hide from people in a green room, and I regret this decision. I made excuses for why it was necessary, but deep down, I wanted to do it because that’s what you had to do to “go to the next level” in leadership.

    I might have been a little more tired if I had to engage a few “talkers” between services, but sitting on the front row during worship would have been good for my soul.

  • Good points to ponder

  • Green room? What’s that? What churches have green rooms? jk

  • Brenda
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