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: http://www.worshipteamcoach.com/blog/2013/09/16/the-8-rules-for-talking-while-leading-worship
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….