Talking Points: Part 3

The more I read articles and blogs on worship leaders talking the more and more I see it as a huge can of worms! So before I go any further I’m just going to say that I am with the view that worship leaders should be given opportunities to speak out when prompted and their main objective should be to enable a congregation to worship God with as much freedom as they can possibly fathom.

Let me just also state that I would be more than happy just singing away and not really doing anything else – but if I do that a lot of people will not have a clue where I am going or trying to take them, in fact my husband (the drummer in our band) says that they haven’t got a clue where I’m going at times! We do communicate well, and things do seem to fall into place when I do go off on one sometimes – and we’ve just got used to all my different hand, arm, head and foot signals as to where we are going musically (I lead on keys) but even the band might benefit too from a few words as to where we are going as well.

In a lot of these blogs about with tips about talking when leading worship the point comes up about planning what you are going to say. At first I was a bit uncomfortable about this – I mean surely if a worship leader was to talk it would be to encourage people to give it their all? But then that’s the “cheerleader” stereotype in me. Sometimes there are times when we need to reflect on the words we are singing and if God has given us a thought or a picture or a scripture to say in order to enhance what the song and the words mean for that moment when preparing then so be it.

Jon Nicol gives 8 “rules” for talking when leading worship in his blog:

1. Don’t wing it.
2. Keep it brief.
3. Have a point. 
4. Don’t sermonize. 

5. Use scripture more often than not.
6. Annunciate, especially if you’re talking over music.

7. Let the songs speak for themselves. 
8. When in doubt, don’t let it out.

I’m sure Martin Smith follows these rules most of the time and that the amazing things he says when leading aren’t always off the cuff and winged. Take for example when he leads at Bethel from 33:21 

and Delirious’ Farewell concert from 4:54   

and at Willow Creek 5:05 

and at Hillsong 5:04 

He must have some idea of what he was going to say. And with experience (or great gifting) he doesn’t need notes to remind him what to say. But you know exactly when he is going to talk during History Maker – around 5 minutes in every time! (check it!) Its clear he has a plan of what he is going to say and he obviously knows when the time is to say it. But whatever he has prepared has relevance, is reflective, refers to scripture and stirs people’s hearts to go just that bit further in their worship to God.

Now I know that Martin Smith is doing this in a gig context as opposed to a usual Sunday morning or evening service. But in a church service context usually this would naturally happen with me leading the band in playing something under either the preacher or service lead who has a prompting to say something at that particular time. One day I could be given words to say in order for God’s heart to be heard and for people to grow closer to him in worship  – and I pray I accept that challenge with boldness whether prepared beforehand or not….


Talking Points: Part Deux

Bob Kauflin’s blog is such a great resource full of so much insight on When I read one blog then it’s linked to another and another and another from different people who also have amazing insight.

For myself (and anyone else interested) I’m just going to a few of the links here that I have found useful at the moment based on the subject of “What Do You Say When You Lead Worship?” This is the blog I have mentioned in Talking Points: Part 1. I was so excited that I’m not alone in thinking through this topic and it opened up a world of different advise, opinions and experiences. Some that I think are great, some not so. But this blog isn’t here to address what I disagree with….

Here is a link to a recorded talk with outline by Bob Kauflin   – I haven’t listened to the talk yet, but the outlines make sense.

The next part of the Worshipmatters blog.  I’m not like a massive follower trying to promote things, honest. I have just found these links really useful. In this one Bob gives these 4 points about why we should say anything when leading sung worship:

1 – to MAGNIFY

2 – to APPLY

3 – to CLARIFY


Scripture is also referred to as well which I will keep on going back to! Great!

Please let me just say that I think this last blog in the talking series is fab fab fab! I do find it quite funny when he says “I’m aware that for many people reading the question posed in the title of this post, their immediate and firm answer is, “Nothing!”” Here Bob gives 10 practical points about the matter.

1. Recognize that God’s words outlast ours.

2. Plan the progression of songs so you don’t have to say that much.

3. Behold the beauty of brevity.

4. Brief phrases (spoken or sung) between lines of a song can accomplish the same goals as longer comments.

5. Varying the length, timing, sources, etc. of what you say can keep people from checking out mentally.

6. Don’t underestimate the value of preparation.

7. View testimonies, personal illustrations, and non-biblical quotes like spices – use them sparingly or they ruin the meal.

8. Don’t assume you have to play your instrument while you’re speaking.

9. Prayer is speaking, too. The same principles apply.

10. Ask others for feedback to find out how you can grow.

Another link I found useful when on this blog trail is by Nic Cross May I just say Nic what a great website address “Worshipleaderlab” awesome!

But from this link came this fab blog entry by David Santistevan about public speaking as a worship leader. He has 5 practical things on how to improve:

1. Speak to one person

2. Plan

3. Engage feelings

4. Audition yourself

5. Know your audience (or congregation – sorry I’ll just inject my teeny response to that)

And then another one on this link trail is I found this one interesting because it is from the point of view of a senior pastor rather than the worship leader. The points from the 7 that stood out for me were

1.) Read Scripture (2 Timothy 3: 16-17, Hebrews 4: 12, Psalm 1:2)

2)   Study Theology (1 Thessalonians 5:21, Acts 17:11, 1 Peter 3:15): It’s been said that next to the Senior Pastor of the church, the next best theologian on staff should be the worship leaders.  Why?  Because next to the senior pastor the worship leaders have the most time in front of the congregation shaping their theology through music.  Additionally, along with the music are the words they use to speak and encourage the congregation to worship.

5)   Practice (1 Corinthians 9:25)

6)   Depend Upon The Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:25)

7)   Relax (Hebrews 4:14-16)


Phew! So I’m not going mad when I sit at my piano and talk over my playing and pray and talk to God at times I feel led in order to also practise this skill for times when I will be prompted to say something in public!

I just love how this blog ends and I pray right now that myself and other worship leaders start to learn this and apply it when been given such a huge responsibility and privilege.

As worship leaders begin to fill their hearts and minds with scripture, and begin to wrestle with and chew on theology and sound doctrine, then they will be in a much healthier place and have a much larger set of tools to use when it is time for them to  open their mouths and speak at the corporate gatherings.  Worship leaders are more than musicians and they have a greater role than just singing songs and leading a band.

They are first and foremost believers who are called to glory in God by exalting Jesus Christ thru the power of the Holy Spirit.  They are called to know the Word and to seek out the depths and heights and breadth of the riches of his glorious grace.  As they live into the passionate pursuit of God it will overflow naturally into their role as a worship leader and thru practice they will begin to speak as effectively as they sing

Talking points: Part 1

I love to talk! I really do. But sometimes I am rather conscious that my words can get so mixed up and around and garbled when I feel I should say something in that precise moment. This happens especially when praying out loud (on my own or with others) and also when I am up front leading worship and feel prompted to speak up. I lose it. I say something but aware that it might not be clear, that my explanations make no sense, that what I say really is just so awkward that no one will pay much attention.

But lately I’ve really felt the prompting to say things during times of worship. To maybe explain how the Holy Spirit is at work, or to explain why people are doing what they do, or to even encourage people to come with me to that vast open and liberating space that God longs us to be in. But how do we say it? I know its a case of say as you feel led and there is no room for rehearsing what to say at that particular moment – but I really am looking into ways to say things and also ways to avoid saying things.

So I’m going to spend a few blogs talking about talking – my ultimate favourite thing to do!

A guy called Bob Kauflin has blogged and spoken about this and I have found it really useful. He starts by mentioning the common stereotypes of people talking when not singing he has encountered over the years which I found quite interesting:

The Teacher – From the ten minutes of explanation he provides between every song, you sense he wishes he were the pastor or thinks he should be. Wants you to know he’s much more than a mere musician.

The Emoter – You know he’s moved by something but you’re not sure what. At various times he exhibits tears, laughter, changes in volume – if only you knew why he was so affected. “Jesus! He’s just amazing. I mean, it’s incredible, whoa…like I can hardly believe it…you know what I mean?”

The Mute – You don’t know if he doesn’t have anything to say, fears speaking in front of crowds, or just wants you to figure everything out on your own. Sometimes accompanied by long pregnant pauses between songs.

The Reporter– He unemotionally provides you with information, details, stats, facts. Helpful for someone who works at an information desk. Doesn’t work quite as well when you want to direct people’s hearts to worship God.

The Wanderer – You’re not quite sure where he’s going or where he’s been, but you’re hoping he makes sense to someone.”In Christ Alone. Like, a-looooone, man. I’ve been alone. Like, it’s a bad feeling. Aloneness. Don’t wanna be alone. No way.”

The Cheerleader -Wants you to be excited from start to finish and will use any number of techniques to get you there and keep you there – jumping, shouting, waving hands, moving from one side of the stage to the other, prolonged eye contact, etc. “Here we go! Come on! Let’s sing it like we mean it!”

The Philosopher – Likes to consider possible interpretations and implications of lyrics without coming to any definite conclusions. “You know when we sing that line, ‘Light of the world you stepped down into darkness’ it makes me wonder what kind of step we’re talking about. Was it like a stair step or more like a leap? You know, was it really a step? Was it one small step for Jesus but one giant leap for mankind? I dunno.”

The Mystic – Steve has a distinctive “worship leading” voice that differs from has “normal speaking” voice. It might be a breathy whisper or loud shouting. In either case, you wonder if the Spirit is in the business of voice-modulation.

Being such an enthusiastic person I guess I am in the danger of becoming like a “Cheerleader”, especially as I am so used to it when leading choirs or hymn practice assemblies! But I know deep down that the main reason to talk is to enable people to grow deeper in worship and to encourage them to express their love for Jesus in maybe new and different ways which the Holy Spirit is prompting us to.

The first real time I felt moved and excited by someone talking when not singing in worship was when I heard Kim Walker leading How He Loves Us. And it pretty much sums up where I long to take people too. If you go to 6mins 20 secs you’ll see/hear what I mean….

And just for those who want to read what she says……

His presence. His love.
Is so thick and tangible in this room tonight.
And there are some of you here that have not encountered the love of God.
And tonight God wants to encounter you.
And wants you to feel His love.
His amazing love.
Without it these are just songs.
These are just words.
These are just instruments.
Without the love of God, it’s just like we’re just up here just making noise.
But the love of God changes us,
And we’re never the same,
We’re never the same
After we encounter the love of God
We’re never the same after we encounter the love of God
And right now if you haven’t encountered the love of God,
And you would know,
Because you wouldn’t be the same.
You would never be the same again.
And if you, if you, want to encounter the love of God right now,
You better just brace yourself because He’s about to just blow in this place
And we’re gonna encounter the love of God right now.
So God I speak to all the hearts
And I ask God that every heart be open right now
Every heart be open.
Every spirit be opened up
To you God. To You.
And a love encounter
A love encounter from you tonight
A love encounter from you tonight God.

Amen Kim, amen, amen, amen!!!

Erica x

In the beginning….

I lead worship at our church and I love, love, love it to pieces.  Only thing is I know that there is so much more we as a church can do to glorify our God and express our  worship to Him with freedom. As Nick Herbert put it once: “PRAISE AUTHORISES EXPANSIVENESS!” And the more and more we praise Him, the more and more we see Him at work by the power of the Holy Spirit. We shouldn’t be afraid of that. And I really long for people to be brought before God to praise His name:

  • With freedom
  • With joy
  • With all that they are
  • With confidence
  • Encountering His presence
  • Hearing His voice
  • Growing in intimacy with Jesus
  • To see the Heavens wide open
  • To grow deeper and deeper in faith
  • Finding spacious places

The  Holy Spirit is AMAZING and at work in all of our lives – but we need more of Him and we need to constantly be seeking His face and to me I will always become closer to God through music, and singing my heart out to Him and with Him. I can honestly say I’m not afraid of the Holy Spirit moving within a church service or a prayer meeting or just a meeting in general, I think! But how exciting would it be if and when God’s power is a really tangible thing?

Rather than afraid I guess I’m unsure of how to best go about it when leading in worship. There are so many amazingly gifted and experienced people within the worldwide church family who we can learn from and I will be honest and say that this blog will mainly be me “magpieing” ideas, reflecting on them and maybe even use them myself.

Questions that pop into my head are things like:

  • How can people be encouraged to express their love for Jesus effectively?
  • What should leaders say/not say?
  • How can the congregation and our church be encouraged to go deeper and become free to worship God with all they have within that moment of time?
  • How can people be encouraged to enter into the presence of God?
  • How can worship leaders get others to follow where they think God wants to take them or be part of how God is moving effectively?
  • How can a congregation be encouraged to sing in tongues? Be open to the prophetic?
  • How can it be explained that when we worship sometimes we sing what the Father’s heart wants to sing over us?

I really do get lost in the moments at times and feel I sometimes can’t find the right words to say to encourage others to go deeper and lead them to that spacious place that God longs to take them. As of today I want to learn and try new things in order to enable others to encounter the love of God in all His richness. And here this blog is going to document my journey along the way. I hope it helps you. I hope it blesses you. And I really hope it reflects some of what is going on in my head when I am up front leading in worship, making myself vulnerable enough to follow God’s lead and lead others to do the same. And above all I pray that it glorifies God – the author of everything good and lovely and perfect.

Erica x