Veteran musician and worship leader Tony Guerrero offers his very best advice for worship leaders.
I spent some time considering what the main tips are that I not only recommend to people in classes I teach and articles I write, but that I also use in my own weekly ministry. I have a hard time calling these my Top 10, since at various times other tips not mentioned here could be extremely important, but these were the ones that I tend to rely on frequently.
These aren’t in any order…
1. Don’t Be Late
There is simply, in my opinion, no excuse for being chronically late. Lateness happens occasionally to all of us, but chronic lateness is a sign that something is out of order in someone’s life—either pride, organization, priorities, over-commitment…something. Whatever the reason, it does not honor God to hold everyone else up on a regular basis. If you struggle with this, make it a top priority to deal with it.
2. Lead Individually
There are no catchall rules for dealing with people. The way you deal with one singer on your team may not work for another singer. Get to know your team members individually—what makes them tick, what they love, the dynamics their families and jobs bring to the equation. Give extra time and grace to those who need it. Your expectations and methods should be flexible enough to allow many types of personalities to coexist in your ministry.
3. It’s Better to Stop a Song
Guitar horribly out of tune? Stop. Did the drummer start playing in 3/4 instead of 4/4? Stop. Are the singers singing a different song than the band is playing? Stop. Too often, our performance mentality dictates that we’re supposed to pretend that nothing is going wrong so the audience won’t notice. They notice. Just stop and fix it. I don’t have perfect pitch, so one time when my keyboard accidentally got transposed, I didn’t realize right away. Until the singer started to sing and couldn’t reach the notes. I should have stopped and fixed it, but my inexperience told me to keep going and pretend nothing was wrong. I think that singer has just now almost recovered from his head explosion.
4. Give Creative Authority Away
Are you the only person on your team making creative decisions? Shame on you. Start giving your team members creative input and authority. They have a responsibility to work within the parameters you set, but ultimately, they will shine when given ownership over some of the creative expression. My pastor, Rick Warren, wrote, “When you give authority with responsibility, you’ll be amazed at the creativity of your people.”
5. Don’t Let the Trends Dictate Direction
Just because the latest and greatest worship song is a rocker doesn’t mean your congregation can no longer worship God with a favorite hymn. It is our human economy that lets us believe God cares at all about trends—He doesn’t. He’s already heard the latest fad long before it came out. And besides, fads are based on generalities that are often easily disproved. For example, modern worship, which is arguably most heavily influenced by U2’s music, tends to be marketed toward the 18-30 crowd. But U2 came out in the early ’80s, which means their music is just as relevant to people in their 40s and 50s. Age, styles, tempos, volumes, instruments—it’s all up for grabs. Don’t get pigeonholed by trends. Authenticity beats hipness any day.