Did the Worship Leader Really Say That? – Tuesday Morning Insight


Today’s guest post comes from Jason Hatley. Jason helped launch The Journey Church in New York City, directing the programming of our worship services. He invests in Worship Pastors around the country through interactive coaching networks and worship planning resources. He is also my co-author on Engage: A Guide to Creating Life-Transforming Worship Services and Revolve: A New Way to See Worship as well as over a dozen worship leader personal and ministry growth resources.

Recently I was having a conversation with a young worship leader and sharing with him my philosophy of preparing in advance not only the music of Sunday, but also the specific things that you want to “say” in the worship set.

To my surprise, he was having none of it!

In his mind taking time to think through what you want to say during the worship set on Sunday instead of just trusting the spirit (i.e. winging it) was somehow less “spiritual”.

It’s alright for the pastor to prepare in advance. It’s alright for us to rehearse the band in advance, prepare lyric slides in advance, identify the right video and media for the service in advance.

But writing out what you want to say and rehearsing it so that you actually say something concise and theologically accurate was (in his mind) taking it too far!

I’m having a little fun with this of course, but the issue that he raised is a serious one for you and me.

So I took some time to invest in this young worship leader and shared with him (and now with you) the following four reasons to prepare the spoken elements of your worship set in advance:


#1 – Clarify your Language – We’ve all been there…. what you wanted to say and what you actually said didn’t quite match up. It can be embarrassing, or even worse, inadvertent heresy!

We would never expect a Pastor to step into the pulpit Sunday after Sunday to preach without taking time to write his message in advance. Likewise, we must see every word we speak on Sunday as being part of the overall message of that day. Taking time to write your what you want to say in advance gives you the clarity you need to say what you mean.

#2 – Calm your Nerves – Imagine stepping onstage to lead worship without having rehearsed any of the music during the week. That’s enough to make anyone nervous, even if you’ve led worship for 20 years! The same is true with spoken transitions. When you’re unprepared for the spoken elements of the worship set, you will be nervous. Being nervous distracts you and your congregation from being free to worship. And trust me… they know when you’re not prepared!

#3 – Concisely State Your Point – Do you remember the Energizer Bunny commercials where the bunny keeps going and going and going and… Worship Leaders can be like that as well when they want to say something, but don’t know how they want to say it. They babble on and on and on and… Remember – more words does not equal more content. Don’t believe me? Read Proverbs!

#4 – Carefully Handle Holy Things – Every time you step onstage to lead worship you’ve been entrusted with a holy thing. So handle it with holy hands. Don’t shoot from the hip. Prepare your heart, prepare your music, and prepare your words. Remember the Parable of the Talents. When we handle well what God entrusts to us, he will bless us with more. When we handle poorly what God entrusts to us, even that will be taken away.

As you prepare to lead worship this Sunday, take time this week to consider and even write down word for word what you feel God is leading you to say. It may be sharing a passage of scripture, providing context for a new song, or sharing a brief moment of instruction in worship. Plan it out, rehearse it and by the time Sunday comes you will find you’re communicating clearly, calmly, concisely and carefully with your congregation.

“Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.”
– Proverbs 21:5

Your partner in ministry,

Jason's Signature





pimgPS – As the Proverb above states, good planning leads to success.

In the same way great preparation and great worship rehearsals lead to great worship services. And in the Leading with Authority in Rehearsal seminar I want to show you how to plan, communicate and carry out great rehearsals every week at your church.

Click here to pick up your copy today!

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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church growth strategist, pastor, church planter and coach, consulting with churches around the world. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has personally trained more than 3,500 church leaders in over 45 denominations through live events, seminars and monthly coaching. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in Boca Raton, FL. Nelson and his church routinely appear on lists such as “The 50 Most Influential Churches” and “The 25 Most Innovative Leaders.” He is the author of over 100 church growth resources and 18+ books, including The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life, Ministry and The Difference Maker: Using Your Everyday Life for Eternal Impact, and At the Cross with the People Who Were There. He and his wife, Kelley, have one son, Alexander.

Nelson SearcyLeadership, Worship Planning