Effective Song Leading

Effective Song Leading

To be asked to lead spiritual songs in the assembly is to be given the privilege of directing the congregation in worship to God. The leader is not just leading singing, but leading others in true worship. An effective song leader is one who realizes the importance of his work.

1. Sincere faith in and love for God are prerequisites to effective song leading.

Sincerity is contagious and our worship must be genuine and earnest in order to be pleasing to the Lord (John 4:23-24).

2. Songs must be selected that appeal to the heart of man.

Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 teach that we are to “sing and make melody in the heart” and “sing with grace in the heart” to the Lord. Singing must edify the hearts of those who worship in order for it to be acceptable to the Lord. An effective song leader will take this into consideration.

3. Songs must be selected that the congregation can sing.

Most of the members of a congregation are not able to sight-read new songs. They are in the assembly to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. If they are unable to sing the song, that part of their worship is vain (Matthew 15:8,9). Learning new songs can be done at special services or classes set aside for that purpose. Once learned, they should be sung in the assembly worship.

4. Following a theme, such as “faith”, “hope”, “love”, etc., makes the song service more effective.

Songs that complement the sermon ought to be used whenever it is possible, especially before the lesson.

5. It takes a whole lot of planning to make our song leading more effective.

A song leader needs to know well in advance that he is to lead the singing so that he can have time enough to plan his part of the worship. The song leader doesn’t want to find out at the last minute that he is to lead any more than a preacher wants to find out at the last minute that he is to preach. There could be cases of emergency, but for this to happen on a regular basis is without excuse. In planning the song service, the song leader should consider using a variety of keys and rhythms. It is monotonous to sing the same key and rhythm over and over. Songs are written in various key signatures (C; F; B flat; E flat; A flat; D flat; G; D; A; E). Also, in music, we find songs in “common” time (2/2; 3/2; 2/4; 3/4 and 4/4) and “compound” time (6/4; 9/4; 6/8; 9/8; 12/8). NOTE: The following example of variety can lead to a more effective song service: “Heavenly Sunlight” (Key of G – 9/8 rhythm); followed by “The Love of God” (Key of D – 4/4 rhythm); followed by “Looking to Thee” (Key of A – 12/8 rhythm). This might sound complicated, but it will help to keep the song service from becoming dull.

6. Enthusiasm is vital to effective song leading.

A quarterback on a football team who has an enthusiastic spirit can motivate his teammates to have the same enthusiasm he has about the game. A song leader who is sincerely enthusiastic can motivate the audience to have the same enthusiasm he has in his heart about singing praise to the Almighty God. Enthusiasm is contagious!

7. The desire to improve is also an important ingredient in being an effective song leader.

Song leaders need to be continually improving in their sight-singing abilities, song directing, pitching songs and learning newer songs. A song leader will lose his effectiveness when he thinks he has learned all he needs to know. The effective servant of the Lord is one who always sees the need of growing in every area of his life as a Christian. Many song leaders have good voices but do not know how to pitch a song correctly. Therefore, the song is led too high or too low, taking away from the effectiveness of the song. This can be eliminated when one learns the process of pitching songs correctly. Also, songs are often led too slowly because the one leading has not learned how to direct the various rhythm (tempo) patterns. This, too, can be corrected.

Effective song leading is accomplished the same way effective teaching is accomplished. It takes a lot of “want to” mixed with hard work. When we see the fruits of more effective song worship, it’s well worth the effort!

R. J. Stevens – Originally Written March 1985

Improving Our Worship

Improving Our Worship

The New Testament tells us what early Christians did in their worship and also the manner in which their worship was done. It is not up to man to invent ways to improve worship apart from the word of God (“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17). John 4:24 records, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” If I practice something in worship for which there is NO scriptural authority or . . . if I have an attitude of bitterness in my heart when I worship, such is unacceptable before God (Matthew 5:23-24; 15:8-9). Therefore, worshiping God acceptably involves doing what God says and . . . doing it from a sincere heart.

Throughout the Bible, we can see that God has always required that His children give the best of themselves and of their sacrifices to Him. For ALL that He has done since the creation of the world, God deserves it! Today in New Testament worship, God deserves my best! Obviously, as a disciple of the Lord, I can worship God at any time and in any place. However, as a Christian, I have the responsibility and privilege to assemble with fellow disciples. Even though there are times when we worship with others in an assembly, worship is still an individual matter. What can I do, personally, to improve my worship before God? Please give the following areas of worship your consideration:

How can I improve my worship in song?

Passages such as 1 Corinthians 14:15, Ephesians 5:19, and Colossians 3:16 teach us to sing with spirit, with understanding, with melody in your heart and with a heart filled with grace. The command to sing involves MY learning something about singing. If I am a song leader in song worship, I need to learn to lead singing to the best of MY ability in order to encourage others, so that they, too, can give of their best in song worship as followers.

How can I improve my worship in partaking of the Lord’s Supper?

It’s obvious that the early disciples partook of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of every week (Acts 2:42; 20:7). However, according to 1 Corinthians 11:23-29, I must partake of the bread and the fruit of the vine in memory of Christ. I must discern the Lord’s death till He comes again. Sometimes it helps me in my discernment to read scriptures and lyrics to songs that take my mind back to the cross of Christ.

How can I improve my worship in teaching and hearing God’s word?

A preacher is worshiping God when he preaches. As a preacher of truth, I can improve my worship in proclaiming the Word when I speak with all boldness (Acts 4:29). My worship in preaching will be more effective when I preach in the spirit of meekness and humility (Galatians 6:1-2). I must also speak with love in my heart; not only for my Lord, but also for the same people He loves (1 Corinthians 13:1). Those who hear the gospel are also worshiping while listening. As a hearer, I should receive the message with all readiness of mind – just like the Bereans (Acts 17:11). The worshipful hearer not only receives the Word but also embraces it (believes) and obeys. If I want to improve this part of my worship, I will show reverence for the Word.

How can I improve my worship in praying to God?

As one leading the prayer, I need to prepare myself. The lack of preparation in prayer often leads to wordy repetition. I need to pray loud enough that the congregation can hear the words and be able to say, “A-men.” The scripture teaches me to pray with spirit, understanding and faith. I need to be enthusiastic when I pray and mean every word that I say. On the other hand, as a listener to a public prayer, I need to concentrate on what is being said while having an attitude of prayer in my heart.

How can I improve my worship in giving?

The Bible teaches me to give on the first day of the week, as I have prospered, as I have purposed, and to give cheerfully, willingly and bountifully (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 8:7-8; 8:12; 9:5-7). It is essential to learn the truth about giving as much as it is to learn the truth about partaking of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of each week or about singing praises to God without instrumental music. To not give as God instructs will make my worship vain.

My worship needs to be improved if, in any way, it is according to the commandments of men rather than instruction from God. My worship needs to be improved when it is only from my mouth and not from my heart. Whatever we can do that is in harmony with God’s expressed will – to worship according to truth and to worship from our hearts – needs to be put into practice. And remember, true worship glorifies our heavenly Father and edifies our brothers and sisters in Christ.

R. J. Stevens & Tim Stevens