Spontaneous Worship For the Rigid Worship Leader
Some worship leaders are completely rigid. Everything must be carefully considered and carried out exactly according to plan.
Some worship leaders are completely spontaneous. Songs can’t be chosen beforehand. Everything has to evolve organically on the spot.
Most of us are somewhere in between. I tend to be more rigid and planned but I really enjoy free flowing moments in our worship times. Here are a few thoughts on balancing this tension.
Everyone Is Different
All of us are shaped by our God given personality and the church tradition we came up on. The spectrum of expressions of worship are as diverse as the cultures of the world. And that’s okay. God is too big to be worshipped in just one way.
Spontaneity Is Not More Spiritual Than Planning
Don’t buy into the idea that the Holy Spirit can only speak in the moment. God can put a song on your heart on Wednesday morning while you’re planning a set in your living room or he could put a song on your heart in the middle of a Sunday service. Be sensitive to the Spirit’s prompting at all times.
Some Songs Are Better Suited For A Loose Structure
These tend to be more simple songs with fewer sections and less musical parts.
Some Songs Are Better Suited For A Specific Structure
Some worship leaders never do a song the same way twice. They flow from verse to chorus to instrumental is always up for grabs. As a producer I sometimes have a hard time with this. Some songs are just most effective in a certain form. Lingering would get monotonous and overbearing while rushing through would render the message ineffective.
Some Churches Engage More With A Loose Worship Time
Know your church family. Do they come alive in those free flowing moments? If you’re uncomfortable with this, work to grow in this area so you can serve your church well.
Some Churches Engage More With A Structured Worship Time
There’s nothing wrong with this. Some churches may feel lost and uncomfortable in a spontaneous worship atmosphere.
You may not be ready to dive headlong into spontaneous worship but are you ready to test the waters? Here are three simple ideas to get you started.
1. Tag A Chorus
This is probably the most most common and comfortable form of going off script. In fact you may do this already. Play the song song straight through as you normally would but when the band lands the final chord have a guitar or piano keep playing softly. Repeat the chorus or bridge a little slower and softer. This brings extra emphasis to the words and and removes attention from the music.
Having your full team be comfortable and fluid with this may take some work but that’s okay. Instruct them saying “I’m planning on playing this chorus at the end. After I get started, play along softly. If people are engaging we’ll loop it a few times or we may just sing it once. Just watch me and follow along.”
2. Add A Mini Song
Instead of going start to finish from song to song consider adding a mini song as a kind of tag to a song you’ve just lead. Similar to the “Tag A Chorus” concept this could be just the Chorus or Bridge of a song. Adding a new song in a similar theme can bring more dimension to what you’ve just sung. This also acts as a moment to slow down and take a breath and keeps the worship time from feeling rushed and formulaic.
Here are some of my favorite songs for this kind of moment.
Great Are You Lord
O Come To The Alter
How Great Thou Art
We Exalt Thee
3. Play Instrumentally
Another idea is an extended instrumental. This could occur during a song or between songs. You could offer a word of instruction during this time like “lets take a moment to wait on the Lord” or “offer a praying of thanksgiving in your heart”.
Leading well in a spontaneous way takes time, practice, discipline and skill. Don’t worry if it doesn’t happen all at once. Here are a few other posts that will help you hone these skills.
What type of worship leader are you? Rigid or Spontaneous?
How has your church responded to different styles of worship?