Posted by Chris Sayburn on 12 May 2015

Paul, a guitarist, had a few questions about the practical aspects of leading worship. Having set Phil Loose onto it, we also tracked down Chris Sayburn, Worship Pastor at St George’s, Leeds to see what he had to say...

1. When leading worship do you have a set format/arrangement for worship choruses?

I usually spend a lot of time in private preparing songs before I lead publicly. I arrive with a template for the team when we rehearse - especially beginnings and endings. 

2. Do you ever deviate from any set arrangement in live worship if led by the Holy Spirit?

Sometimes when I practice and worship with the songs I get a sense that there may be a good point to leave some space and I let the band know in advance what those chords will be (may just be 1 and 4 if you Nashville numbers - if not these a great tool for a team in communicating chords whatever the key). 

3. How do you communicate any deviations etc to your worship team so that everyone knows where they are going?

The team are used to leaders using the same set of signals (raise left leg for verse, right leg for chorus) so can follow me. This gives me freedom to follow where I sense the Spirit is leading us and not be confined to set arrangements. However, don't fall into the temptation that "Spirit led" means it has to be changed arrangements every time. 

We do sometimes use a MD (music director) who follows the worship leader and then talks to the whole team on In ears who can then follow easier. This is especially helpful to let the team know (Including projection) if we are changing the order of songs or sense we should add a new song in. 

If you all use in ears (we use a cheap wired solution!) it means you can run click tracks which means people play less as they are not having to always keep the tempo going. You can use added tracks with things like Ableton Live which is flexible so you can follow the leader with it too. 

We usually keep it's simple and we have w mixture of people on in ears and wedge so can't run click and rarely bother with tracks. 

4. Do you also communicate this leading to the congregation and if so how?

I do use vocal leads to help the congregation. I don't see this as a problem and think it's helpful to show that we are all in it together. I guess you don't need to do it for every line though, just when something is happening that the congregation is not expecting.

Above all guard your heart, rely on God not gifting. Pray and worship in private and lead publicly with confidence knowing God is calling you to lead his people.

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