As a worship leader, I’m constantly thinking of practical ways to engage our congregation at Saddleback when we sing together. I truly believe that when we’re in it together—when our hearts are aligned in our surrender to Jesus—these shared moments become atmosphere shifters. People draw close to their Savior. Lives are transformed.
But before diving into the practical, let’s situate our mindset on what “engaging worship leading” really means.
Engaging worship leading demands excellence, but it’s more than a show.
By definition, we are performing when we play music or sing. And of course, we aim to set the bar of excellence high by honing our skills in practice and rehearsal. God deserves our very best! But our time of worship is about much more than that. It’s about is about creating a space where others can engage with God, not creating a space where others can applaud my performance.
“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness.” – Psalm 115:1 (NLT)
Engaging worship leading demands authenticity, but it’s more than your personal devotional time.
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another…” – 1 Peter 4:10 (ESV)
This is a tendency that’s easy to slip into as worship leaders. The songs genuinely mean something to us. The lyrics have been guideposts in our own spiritual journeys. But in this role, congregational singing doesn’t just end with our personal worship. The goal here is to use our gifts to serve others and set the table for God to meet them—not just us.
Engaging worship leading demands leadership, but it’s more than a cheerleading moment.
Have you ever had this feeling? You’ve just sung words that carry tremendous power in their meaning, words that lift up the name of Jesus and make everything else in life seem like a dull distraction. You look out… No one is singing. No hands raised to God. Just blank stares.
In moments like this, I’ve often felt like stopping, grabbing someone by the shoulders, and asking if they’re still breathing! Better yet, take a pulse! While my better judgment has never allowed me to do something like that, I have to remember that I’m not here to force actions or guilt people into going through the motions. I’m not a cheerleader. I’m not a drill sergeant. But I AM a worship leader, and I’m here to confidently take people by the hand and lovingly invite them to give praise to God, in His presence, with His people.
“Come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation… For the Lord is a great God.” - Psalm 95:1,3a (NLT)
Ultimately, worship leading is an invitation to connect with the God who created heaven and earth, to recalibrate our minds and hearts in light of who He truly is, to fulfill our God-breathed purpose of exalting the only One who’s worthy of praise.