As a part-time worship leader in our local church over the last 19 years, I have found that it’s much more difficult to plan when I will be gone! When I’m there, it’s easy to put things together and pinch hit if something changes. But, when I’m not going to be there, I have a burden to make sure everything is totally locked in and double checked 100%. There seem to be more little pieces to arrange, more conversations needed, and more descriptions to write out.
I used to joke that the best way to raise up worship leaders was to leave. There may be some truth to that statement. Indeed over the years, there have been many opportunities for people to lead in my absence. When I’m there, people look to me to get it done. But, for another person to truly feel the weight of the role, it’s easiest if I’m not there. The burden of worship leadership has to fall on someone and in many ways, it can only be learned by doing it.
My first experience in leading worship was because of a need. There was a void of a guitar player for kids worship in our church, and though I was only in sixth grade at the time, no one else was available. With encouragement and an invitation, I did it. The repertoire was small, but it served the purpose and I learned. I’ve heard of others who had to step in out of sheer need and because of this they became the worship leaders. God uses all kinds of people to lead!
So, for the Sundays I’m gone, here are some of the things I try to do:
Schedule someone to lead with as much advance notice as possible. Most often, this is best if it’s someone from within the current worship ministry leadership team but can also be outside guest worship leaders. Part of the role of the worship leader is to help raise up worship leaders who can lead, but this requires a long-term vision for the leader. Read: Raise Up Worship Leaders (With These Two Simple Concepts) and Seven Ways To Watch For New Worship Leaders.
Give them the tools. What is the scripture for the day? What is the theme? What will be happening during the service? There is lots of freedom to do more familiar music on those particular Sundays. But sometimes, new worship leaders bring a different perspective and new songs.
Visit with the leader about the day. Be sure you connect with the worship leader for the day. Depending on their level of leadership experience, take the opportunity to help them think through and arrange the service flow.
Support them in getting music, chord charts and other admin details squared away.
Connect with the pastor about who will be leading in your absence. Double check any last minute issues.
Pray for the team and the worship service. I often will look at my watch and think about what is happening back at church about now. When I’m able, I’ll text the group early on Sunday morning to let them know I’m praying for them.
Follow up quickly. Most often, I try to send a text to find out how things went soon after the service. I will also ask around to a few other key folks who were there to see how it all went and be sure to give feedback to the leader.
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