Sometimes it is appropriate for worship leaders to share thoughts, prayers, or words of encouragement during worship.
Despite their ability to sing, many worship leaders feel intimidated or terrified to speak to their church. As an introvert, I felt this way when I first led worship. Over the past decade of leading worship, my confidence and ability to speak in between songs have steadily increased to the point it is something I look forward to rather than dreading. Here is a simple process I use to prepare myself to speak during a worship set.
One way to continually grow as a worship leader is regularly spending time studying the Bible and theology. While studying music in college, I was inspired by Johann Sebastian Bach. Everyone has heard of him and his music. Most do not know that he was just as serious about being a pastor as he was a musician. He held biblical studies and theology in high regard. Learning this about Bach helped me realize that as a worship leader, I must invest time learning more about God’s word and theology to better lead people in worship. The more I learn, the larger the pool of biblical and theological knowledge I have to pull from when I seek to encourage the congregation during worship.
To begin with incorporating more study into your life, here are some resources. For biblical studies, find a good study bible. I love using the ESV Study Bible and NIV Study Bible. As someone who has taken a lot of biblical studies courses in college and seminary, these study Bibles are the CliffsNotes version of everything you need to know about scripture.
Here are couple book recommendations to learn more theology. First, I recommend Wayne Grudem’s Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith. This book is a concise, systematic theology that will help you connect what the Bible says with what we believe as Christians. Next, I would recommend pretty much any of N.T. Wrights books such as Simply Christian, Surprised by Hope, and How God Became King.
It’s not hard to find a lot of excellent resources today on the Bible and theology. Take advantage of those resources. As you begin to reflect on what you would like to say to your congregation, you will have a vast pool of knowledge and insight from which you can pull.
Each week during your worship planning process, make time for reflection upon the theme of the sermon, the songs you have selected, and the flow of the service. For a lot of churches, the sermon of the week or series determines the focus and direction of the congregation. Hopefully, this informs your song selection and any words you say in between songs. Spend time reflecting on the theme of upcoming sermons with your pastor and think of ways to support that theme in your worship planning and leading. Next, reflect upon the lyrics of the songs your church will be singing. Do a little bit of research to understand the theology and meaning of the song. From there you can teach the congregation something they may not have caught or understood when singing it. Then consider the flow of the service and what type of words are appropriate if you want to say something at the beginning or towards the end of the service. At the start of the service, it makes sense to invite the congregation into worship. Maybe read a Psalm and give a brief thought on why the church gathers for worship. At the end of the service, you can reinforce the sermon and tie it into the closing song. Just a few minutes of reflecting on these things will help you identify strategic and appropriate was to speak to the congregation between songs.
Within your planning process, take the time to pray. Ask God to guide you as you plan and lead worship, as well as guide your words when you speak during song transitions. I do not have any specific instruction on what this prayer time will look like as it is different for everyone. The key is to place yourself in a non-distracting environment and spend time listening to God.
Script and memorize
Once you know what you want to say and where you want to say it in the worship time, spend some time scripting and memorizing your words. Especially if you are new to public speaking, writing a transcript will allow you to craft your words with intentionality. Since you are only saying a few brief thoughts, what you write down should only be a few sentences. After finalizing what you want to say, read it out loud a few times and memorize it. Practice it until you can speak if from your heart without hesitation. Since it is going to be brief, this should not be difficult to do.
When you rehearse with your band, practice speaking in between song transitions during rehearsal. Ask one of your other band members to play softly in the background. If you are a solo worship leader, practice playing softly and speaking at the same time. Background music is not always necessary, especially if you have prepared what you want to say and you are articulate.
By now you should feel well-prepared to say a few words to your congregation in between songs in your worship service. When the time comes to speak, be articulate and clear. Make eye contact with your congregation as that adds a great personal touch.
Ask for feedback
Sometime after the service, ask your pastor or another leader in your church for feedback. Since you pastor’s job requires a lot public speaking, they will probably have constructive criticism on how you can improve in both your content and delivery.
I also want to mention a couple of caveats. First, make sure the leadership at your church has given you the authority to give these brief speaking moments during worship. You do not want to catch them off guard. Maybe have them look over what you are going to say beforehand. Second, keep these speaking moments brief. Your congregation does not want to listen to two sermons. Always err on the side of keeping your thoughts brief.
For those who are new to worship leading or speaking during a worship service, I hope these tips gave you a bit more direction on how to speak in between songs. You’ll notice that the bulk of the work begins long before you speak. The best insight from worship leaders come from a long time spent studying scripture and theology, reflecting on your church’s season and worship flow, and finally putting in the time behind the scenes to articulate and practice what you are going to say. If you’ve been leading worship for a while and you enjoy speaking during transitions, what other words of wisdom do you have to add? Please share them in the comments below!