Principles for praise and worship leaders

Each worship service is an encounter with God

how to lead worshipThe principal purpose of every worship service is to encounter God and not to meet with each other, or even to have our needs met. In light of this, we must not consider praise and worship as simply preparation for the ministry of the Word, but a means by which a congregation can approach God. Through music, we elevate the level of faith in the people allowing them to become more sensitive to God. As this happens, we establish an appropriate atmosphere for the reception of the ministry of the Word and prayer for the needs of the people.

We must remember that we go to a worship service to praise God and adore Him. The more that a congregation shares such perception, the more glorious the praise and deeper the worship will be.

The normal flow of praise in a worship service

In a church meeting or worship service, the people generally go through three distinct phases of relationship and fellowship with God. The tabernacle of Moses graphically illustrates this:

  1. Outer court – songs that testify to what God has done for us
  2. Holy place – songs of praise, of exaltation to God for who He is
  3. Holy of holies – songs of worship, exaltation, attitude of brokenness, spiritual songs.

God’s purpose is for everyone to enter into the holy of holies in every meeting, but frequently a large part of the congregation never reaches this place of worship.

As we have observed, the worship service in a meeting follows a normal pattern or a specific order: involvement, praise and worship. Because of this, the worship leader should have a list of songs subdivided by topics, by musical notes and by alphabetical order. These subdivisions help us to choose an adequate song for each moment of praise.

A basic subdivision for a topical index could be:

  • Testimony / praise – Sing to the Lord (Psalm 96)
  • Worship – To the one who is seated
  • Victory – I will celebrate
  • Love – What I most desire
  • Faith – We are overcomers
  • Spiritual warfare – He has broken the chains
  • Consecration – Here I am Lord

Praise and worship leadership as an art

Leading worship is an art, this means that it is not a mere mechanical or psychological exercise (this is exactly what we want to avoid since we run the risk of leading worship in such a manner that it becomes mechanical and lifeless). It is important to recognize that leading worship is an art that we can perfect. Learning all of the techniques of painting does not make a person an artist, but the mastering of these techniques gives the person that possesses artistic talent the full expression of his inspiration. The perfection of the techniques for leading praise will allow us to be channels of the greatest master of the expression of inspiration of all time . . . the Holy Spirit whom God has given us.

Needs of the praise and worship leader

Wisdom, knowledge and anointing in the spirit, are among the principal and necessary characteristics that worship leaders must cultivate. Merely one of them will not be sufficient. Knowledge is the sensibility or discernment of a spiritual condition. However, wisdom is the knowledge of how to act in a specific situation, which comes from the knowledge of the principles through which God acts. Perhaps a worship leader knows all of the principles, but if he does not know how to discern the situation, he will not know which principle he must apply. In general, we learn both wisdom and knowledge through years of experience. It is important that we understand that the enemy will attack us in specific areas and it is up to us to discern his activity, and which songs will emphasize the truths that will lead the people to freedom.

Besides wisdom and knowledge, the worship leader and the musicians must be people filled with the Spirit in order to fulfill the purpose of God for the meeting (Ephesians 5:18-20). The following are some examples of targets of attack and the songs that stimulate faith to counteract the attack:

  • Accusation – Songs of Confess of sins
  • Insecurity – He that abides in the shadow of the Almighty
  • Problems – I believe all things are possible
  • Discouragement – Awake for the Lord is coming
  • Religiosity – Cause me to come to your rivers oh Lord
  • Ungrateful spirit – I will enter your gates with thanksgiving
  • Mercy – Examine my paths
  •  Condemnation – By faith we have peace

We should never forget that our objective in praise is to enter into the holy of holies, in worship. As we emphasize some songs over others at specific times, we will help free those who struggle with bondage producing the faith necessary to approach God effectively. We must avoid all possible distractions. There are too many distractions in our fellowship with God. All of us are easily distracted and we should not increase this by calling attention to ourselves. We should not make comments such as “brothers and sisters, I feel an evil spirit attacking our meeting”. If you perceive this, go on the offense and attack the enemy, but you do not need to say this in front of everybody. Lead the people in songs that counteract the enemy, and do this wisely.

The wisest manner of doing this is the smoothest way possible: in the song transition, the transition of musical notes, and the transition of the order of service, etc. to reach the maximum flow of the spirit. In other words, keep yourself away from the center of attention as much as possible so that the attention is always focused on the Lord in order to maintain the flow of praise and worship in his direction since he is worthy of our full admiration and attention.