How to prepare for speaking during a worship set

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!

How to use ChordPro for Worship Music Charts

One of the most tedious but crucial jobs of the worship leader is preparing top-notch music charts for his or her team. One trick you can utilize is ChordPro.

What is ChordPro?

ChordPro is type of charting in which rather than placing the chords on top of the lyrics on their own line, you place them in brackets [ ] immediately before the letter/word/space you want the chord to be above. When you copy and paste this type of text into planning center, it automatically arranges the chords and lyrics to look the way they are supposed to, with chords above the lyrics. Here is a before and after of what the ChordPro chart looks like, and what it is converted into in Planning Center.




What's the big deal?

What's cool about this type of charting is that the chords will always remain on top of the lyrics you want them to be above. When you add or delete spaces from your lyrics, the chords while automatically remain in the right spot because you are no longer depending on lining up the spacing. You can also adjust your font size, document size, and other settings in the Planning Center editor, and the chord will remain in the right spot so long as the chord is in brackets immediately before the lyric you want it to be above. 

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Where to find ChordPro Charts

When you purchase chords from and when you go to download your chart, rather than selecting the download button, click "edit the chart" and in the Praise Charts Editor you can change the mode to ChordPro, copy the ChordPro chart, and the paste it into your editor. provides free ChordPro charts for the songs in their library. You just need to signup for a free membership to their site in order to access them.

Try using ChordPro

Try it yourself! Download the text file for the ChordPro chart of What a Beautiful Name by Hillsong Worship. Then copy and paste the text into planning center and format it to your liking!

Ableton Live in Worship Tutorial - Controlling ProPresenter with Ableton Live

The ultimate video guide to controlling ProPresenter with Ableton Live.

The Problem - Late Lyric Slide Cues

It's 2016. It's almost insulting that we still need to ask a volunteer to sit behind an iMac and press the "next" button for our lyrics presentation software. When they do their job right, no one notices them, and when they mess up, everyone hates them. Soon after I started using Ableton, I heard about the capability to control lyrics in ProPresenter. It sounded great but it also sounded too complicated to prep for every week.

Finally, I decided I wanted to up my game as a worship leader by increasing excellence in our worship service, so I decided to go all in and learn how to automate worship slides. I was tired of getting frustrated at my ProPresenter volunteers. I was tired of my pastors pointing out the fact that the ProPresenter cues were late.

The other problem - No good online tutorials

It took me MANY hours to learn how to control ProPresenter with Ableton Live. Sure, there are a lot of free tutorial videos on Youtube, but none of them told me everything I needed to know to make it work. I had to piece information together from multiple sources to make it work.

Since learning this skill has made such a huge impact on my worship ministry, but the process of learning was so difficult, I decided it was best to create my own online course that would serve other as the ultimate video guide to controlling ProPresenter with Ableton Live.

If you are sick of late lyric slides in ProPresenter, and if you are already familiar with ProPresenter, then this online course is for you. You can enroll in the online course by clicking the button below. Before enrolling in the video tutorial, you can check out the rest of this blog post that shows you the process via screenshots. The screenshot guide is not nearly as complete, but it will give you an idea of how the process works. The online video course will be your ultimate guide to setting up this automation. Enroll today!

What you will need

  1. A Mac running Ableton Live.
  2. A Mac running ProPresenter.
  3. ProPresenter MIDI Module. Midi is how Ableton will be able to send commands to ProPresenter. You can demo the full functionality of the MIDI Module in ProPresenter, it will just be watermarked until you buy the $99 dollar license.
  4. Wifi Network. This is so you can send the commands to ProPresenter wirelessly.
  5. ProPresenter Midi Template Ableton Project File. Big thanks to Will Doggett from for making this template.

Screenshot Guide

The following screenshot guide below is not nearly has helpful as the video guide above, but it can be useful for a quick reference.

Prepare your lyric slides in ProPresenter

Here is an example of how I try to setup my songs in ProPresenter. A few notes on this.

  • I use only 1-3 lines of text per slide.
  • I don't use ProPresenter's arranger view anymore. You'll see that each slide appears only once, rather repeating sections. The beauty of automating with Ableton is the ability to skip to the appropriate slide at any point in the song.
  • There are no blank slides. Ableton can send "clear" commands, so when we want a blank slide during an instrumental, it can be programmed with a MIDI cue.

Setup the Mac MIDI utility

  • Open the Mac application, Audio MIDI Setup.
  • Under window select MIDI studio. So you should see this.

Select IAC Driver and you'll see this window.

  • Select the "+" button to add an IAC Bus. The IAC Bus is the virtual connection that allows applications to send MIDI commands to one another.
  • Once IAC Bus 1 is created, select the Device is online checkbox.
  • Now you have the capability to communicate via MIDI between different applications on your Mac.
  • Exit the IAC Driver Properties window.

Setup MIDI wifi network

  • If you are running Ableton and ProPresenter on different Macs, which is usually the case, you will need to make it so the two macs can communicate with one another wirelessly.
  • First, make sure the Macs are logged onto the same wifi network.
  • Next, in you Audio MIDI Setup application, in the MIDI Studio Window, select Network.
  • In the MIDI Network Setup window, click the "+" button under My Sessions to add a new session. By default it will create a session named Session 1.
  • Select the Enable checkbox.
  • Rename your Local Name and Bonjour Name (how it will appear to other computers) so your computer is identifiable.
  • Select IAC Driver IAC Bus 1 in the top live routings field.

Setup ProPresenter Communications Module

Now you will have more options in the preferences panel. Select Communications.

In the communications window, select MIDI Setup

  • In this window, make sure the starting note number is 0 and then press autofill. This will ensure that the MIDI commands sent from Ableton, using the Ableton ProPresenter Template, will accurately trigger the right functions in ProPresenter.
  • Press OK
  • Back in the communications window, press Add Device and select MIDI.
  • Press Save
  • Press the little gear next to the connect button on the MIDI device you just created.
  • On the settings window that pops up, make sure IAC Bus 1 is selected under the sources option.
  • Press Save
  • Press the Connect button on the MIDI device so that the red dot turns green.
  • Propresenter is now ready to receive MIDI commands from Ableton.

Add Lyric Cues to Your Ableton Live Session

Finally, you are now ready to send lyric cues from Ableton to ProPresenter. As you can see from the process above, there are quite a few settings you have to have right before this all works. It's a bit of a learning curve understanding how MIDI works and getting these applications to talk to each other. If it isn't working properly, work your way through all of the steps above to confirm that everything is setup properly.


Ableton Live in Worship Tutorial - Gear

Before you can start utilizing the power of Ableton Live in worship, you'll need some gear. This is assuming you have a basic sound system with a mixer board that has two free channels as well as in-ear monitoring, at least for your drummer. Here is a list of what I use and a brief explanation for each item. Click the images to buy the items on Amazon.

1. Laptop

If you do not already have one, this will be the biggest investment for using Ableton Live. It doesn't have to be a powerhouse machine, but I also wouldn't buy a cheap PC that will crash on you half way through a song. I'm an apple fan-boy, so I would recommend a MacBook Air or Macbook Pro.

2. External Hard Drive

I recommend storing and organizing all of your backing track files and sessions on an external hard drive. Multitrack sessions are almost 500MB and could fill up your computer's hard drive really fast.


2. Stereo Break Out Cable

This is the first step in getting the audio signal from you laptop's headphone jack to your mixer board. The stereo part is necessary for separating the click track from you backing track into what will end up being two different channels on your board. 

3. 2-Channel DI Box

Next you will need a DI box. This will convert the stereo signal from your laptop to a signal suitable to send to your mixer. In one end of the DI box will the the 1/4" jacks from your stereo break out cable, and the other end you will plug two XLR (mic) cables. 

4. Two Microphone Cables

You'll need two microphone cables at whatever length suits your fancy to get the signal from the DI Box to your front-of-house mixer. Depend on where your sound board is located in your sanctuary, you will be plugging on end of these mic cables in the DI Box and the other ends in your stage snake or directly into the mixer.