How To Lead in Worship — The Way To Be Effective

Today like never before Christian movements and churches have a lot of focus on the praise and worship during the service. Knowing how to lead in worship and how to manage this time in an effective way can really make the difference in our congregations.

Today, let’s look not only at how to prepare a good set but also at how we can manage this time, how to move with obedience to God and in respect of our leaders in a way that Jesus may be glorified.

Having an awareness of worship

How-To-Lead-in-Worship-being-Thankfull Many times I have mentioned in my articles that worship is a response to God which can happen in many situations according to what is triggering our response. It could be that God performed a miracle in our lives, that we are thankful for something He did, or we are simply aware of His presence and He shows up.



Looking at scripture, we see in Psalm 100:4 New King James Version (NKJV)

“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.”

This passage is key to understand this process. Usually, these are the steps that people make when preparing to encounter God (keep in mind that this cannot be a method, but we can use it as a principal).

  • By remembering what God did, we become thankful
  • Remembering and thanking Him leads us to speak and confess His attributes, which leads us to worship Him.

I have covered the topic in detail in this article: How to praise and worship – Is there a right way?

Being aware of the ways that people usually respond to God can be very helpful in leading others into His presence, not because we manipulate or control anything, but simply because these are usually the contexts where people respond to God, just as we see in the Bible.

Knowing how to lead in worship and understanding where God wants to lead people determines many things: how we will prepare our lists,  how we will pick our songs, what order they will be in, and also understanding how to handle the whole set.

Knowing where people are coming from

How-To-Lead-in-Worship-Coming-from-The-DesertLike anybody in the church who is leading people, we need to have an understanding of where our starting point is in order to have a strategy to move on from there. Maybe in our time of preparation, we experience some challenges or we feel God is showing us something new. Typically, the whole congregation is experiencing something similar.

This doesn’t mean everyone is going through the same thing, but it may be that many people are facing a time of challenge. For example, maybe the congregation is going through a time of transition and the members are also going through that process in their personal lives. Many times God leads all His body through seasons and in one way or another everybody is facing it in a personal way.

Why am I sharing this? I believe it’s important to discern the times, and if we want to lead people in worship, not only do we need to know where we are going but also where we are coming from. Here are some practical examples:

  • My congregation and I are going through a time of challenge: in this type of situation, the people will need to be taken care of before they can move on, so in my set list I will have songs of encouragement and hope. People need to be reminded that God is in control and He is our rock.
  • How-to-lead-in-worshipWe are going through a time of transition: maybe God is preparing His people to move into a new field or a new promise. Before moving there, a time of cleansing and refocusing on God is necessary. So our list may have more songs of repentance, or, if the church is ready, we need to sing songs of exhortation and declaration of the future.

The list goes on and on. Basically, we need context before we can prepare. We receive this from prayer and revelation from God, as well as from looking at what is happening around us and in our lives.


Being pastoral with our congregations

How-To-Lead-in-Worship-Being-PastoralBy being pastoral, I mean take care of the people we have in front of us. I have never seen God threatening people and giving commands that are unreasonable. God first takes care of our needs, and then He directs us and challenges us. If we are broken, we need to be nourished first just like Jesus did in the Gospels.


We need to do the same if we want to serve and love our congregations. How to lead in worship? I believe that if we love them, they will follow us! Love is always the way. Loving people does not mean to merely please them since most of the time to love someone we need to say and do what they don’t want to hear. However, when people understand your love and especially God’s love for them, they will pick up the challenge and move on because there will be trust.

How to lead in worship – song list

Only now do I mention the song list because in order to know how to lead in worship and how to prepare a song list we first must consider all the things we looked at up to this point.
These are the steps we need to consider when preparing a song list:

  1. How-To-Lead-in-Worship-Song-ListBe aware of where the congregation/the people are coming from.
  2. Meet the people where they are and take care of them. Allow them to be real and don’t pretend that everything is good when it may not be. Comfort people.
  3. People need to realize God is there for them and He is in control.
  4. Confess the future and prophesize over the people by declaring the promises of God
  5. Respond to God’s presence

These steps help us know how to lead in worship our congregations and show us that we need a variety of songs in order to meet the people where they are.

We need a simple strategy that allows us to lead people in God’s presence and promises. Remember that we are just facilitators. We rely on God since He is the One who gets the job done.

It’s like inviting people to a party. Some may be in a good mood and accept the invitation, some may be discouraged and need some extra encouragement before they agree to show up, and some others are practically waiting in line since it’s the only thing they are thinking about and are excited to participate. Then, when the owner of the house shows up we need to move out of the way. 😉 Knowing when to “move out of the way” is vital in order to allow God to move freely. We, ourselves, are not the center of the party.

Move according to authority

How-To-Lead-in-Worship-RespectAs worship leaders, we need to depend on what God wants us to do, but also consider that God has not appointed us to only be leaders. Usually, we will have authority figures above us who we need to respect. It does not matter if we are the ones that know how to lead in worship the congregation, we still need to move under the authority of the church leadership even when things don’t go how we anticipated.

Many times friction can happen between the worship team and the pastor because of a lack of communication. Keep in mind that often a worship leader or team will have a more prophetic vision, and not all of the church leaders will be on board with it. This creates frustration when we are not allowed to move freely according to what we are feeling from the Holy Spirit.

This is why building trust is so important. Then, when there is a need to stretch out and go outside of the program, there is trust and space for it. In any case, the leaders or pastors have the last word since they are the ones responsible for the community and we move under their authority. Maintaining unity is always the way, and when a leader sees respect he will trust more. If it happens that he doesn’t, it’s still not our responsibility to judge him.

A good relationship is based on sincerity and communication. Maybe we could have a coffee together to share our struggles and find a way out which will bless everyone concerned and allow Jesus to move in the church as a body.


How-To-Lead-in-Worship-UnityWhether we are worship leaders or part of the worship band, knowing how to lead in worship and having awareness of what God wants to do is always the way. If we are able to listen to God, walk in unity and submission, and especially to love people, things will usually go well. We need to keep this in mind: it’s not about us!

God can use and will use anyone who is willing to serve Him, and the more we are able to work as a team the better it will be.

I hope you have enjoyed this article. Please leave a comment below and share from your experience. Let us know what you think about this topic.

Click here to read about praise and worship team training — goals and strategies

Wish you the best and God bless you,


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Author: Andy

I'm Andrea Gatti (Andy). I love the arts, especially music. My dream is to see my home country of Italy and all the nations blossom in their unique identity, each one expressing its specific character for the glory of God.

4 thoughts on “How To Lead in Worship — The Way To Be Effective

  1. Hey Andy,

    I have studied leadership for about 25 years, and I have been going to church since I was a little boy.

    My leadership principles come from Christianity.

    A leader’s role is to serve others, and that is exactly what Jesus did. He served others and didn’t believe that it should be himself who was being served. That is a true leader.

    Great post Andy, and keep up the great work.

    All the best,


  2. Brilliant article. Couldn’t agree more. I have been involved in different aspects of worship teams from sound desk, to drums, and leading with my guitar for 35 years.
    I have found its important to not be complacent about our calling in worship. I am blessed to be part of a church where our pastor is also a worship leader. God is good. Many thanks for sharing this.

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