Song Leading Essentials
According to the National Congregations Study of churches across America, 66% of churches fewer than 100 people in their congregations. Most of the time in these smaller churches, the pastor will conduct all the services, direct the song leading, do all the preaching, handle all the visiting and counseling, while also taking care of the office work, bookkeeping, or even the janitorial, maintenance and building repair needs.
Obviously, the man of God needs some help so he can focus on his primary ministry, the preaching and teaching of the Word. If you are in one of these ministries where the pastor wears many hats, then you can relate.
One area where the pastor may try to delegate a duty is the area of song leading. For that he may call upon someone with a background in music. But, what if there’s no one qualified to lead the song service and you are asked to fill that position? Now what?
Before you actually begin to lead the music, there a few fundamentals to understand concerning leading a public worship service. As a song leader you can easily apply these principles regardless of your musical skills.
1. A song leader must establish an order of service.
Obviously, it’s important for you to work closely with the pastor concerning every aspect of the service. Some of the common ingredients of a worship service would include: a welcome, prayer, singing, announcements, offertory, special music, message and the invitation. Once the order of service has been decided, it’s helpful to have it written down and given to those that will be participating in the service.
You may want to consider using a form type order of service with blanks so you can add specifics about the service concerning announcements you need to make or comments you want to make about a song. An organized order of service will insure that the flow of the service will run smoothly.
2. A song leader must practice good speaking skills.
Part of the song leader’s responsibility is knowing what to say during the service. In most churches, the song leader will be the first to address the congregation. You should prepare a brief, enthusiastic introduction that warmly welcomes people to your church. Be sure you speak clearly and distinctly, maintaining eye contact with those who have come.
Later in the service you may feel the need to say a bit about the song you’re leading. It may be appropriate to share the story behind the hymn or explain a phrase from the song. Unless the purpose of the service is that of a singspiration type, you should guard against saying too much. Service times are limited so you’ll want to observe the given time restraints.
3. A song leader must give clear instructions.
Giving clear instructions will avoid confusion during the service. When announcing a song, you should state the page number, the title of the song and what verses you’ll be singing. If you don’t intend to sing all the verses, tell the congregation before you begin the song or in between verses. You don’t want part of the congregation singing one verse and the other part singing another.
In addition, there are times when you’ll want the congregation to stand for a song or be seated when they sing. Don’t create confusion by asking the congregation to do too much at one time.
When time permits, you may want to ask the congregation to turn around and greet one another. The piano may play a verse or the choir can sing while people are extending the right hand of fellowship. Above all, you must transition smoothly from one aspect of the service to another.
Also, there will be times when you’ll announce who’ll be singing and what will be sung. Before the service begins, double check to be sure your special music is ready and their song has not changed. Calling on the wrong person will create an embarrassing situation for all and disrupt the service.
Your position as a song leader is more than just picking out songs, beating time and singing with the congregation. It involves calculated planning of every aspect of the service, assertive leadership and clearly defined objectives for you to succeed as a song leader. These principles are common to most church services so follow them closely and you will do well.
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