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How I've Learned to Lead Worship

Sep 13 2019

I’ll always remember the first time I led worship. Laura Toggs sent me a message and asked if I could lead worship at WildLife, our senior high youth ministry, on a Friday night. As a 17-year-old, I was pretty shocked. It had always been my dream to lead, but I never thought it would come so soon — I can tell you now that I didn’t think I was ready at all. That night, I led worship with one of my great friends, Melodie Wagner, who was also 17 at the time. I thought Laura was crazy to let two young kids lead worship, but now, five years on, we often still lead together at WildLife.

It’s a tricky one, worship-leading, and it comes with a weight of responsibility. But thankfully, the best way I’ve learned this craft is by watching others.

What can we learn from those around us?

I’m blessed to be in an environment with some of the best worship leaders of our generation. I owe a lot to the leaders who have taken time to teach me the tricks of the trade and to those who have provided great feedback on how to lead people into God’s presence. It was these leaders that threw me into the deep end, believing in me — even when I thought I wasn’t ready. Sometimes it was daunting but saying yes to the call has definitely shaped me into the person I am today.

Never underestimate the wisdom and experience of those that have gone before you. Be open to their feedback and know that at some point, they’ve been where you are!

If you find yourself in a situation like me, thrown in the deep end and not sure if you can do it, here are three insanely simple tips to encourage you:

1. Watch and learn from those who have gone before you

The biggest thing I’ve learnt from those who have gone before me is the importance of engaging with and reading a room. It’s not about the perfect song choice or the slickest arrangements, rather worship leading all about connecting people in the room with Jesus. Guys like Jad and even our Senior Pastor, Brian Houston, talk about the importance of engaging the back row just as much as the front row. Both Pastor Brian and Jad do an excellent job whenever they are on a platform so I’m always watching very closely to see how they lead a room.

2. Be open and receptive to feedback.

For me, this is the most straight forward way to continue to grow and become better at doing things like ‘reading the room’. Every time I walk off platform, I always message any senior leadership or senior worship leaders who were present in the room as I led because I know they have more wisdom than I do and ultimately, they were in a better position to make a comment than I was while leading.  I’m always open to honest feedback no matter how brutal it may be as I know it will grow me and help me. Never shy away from it!

3. Say YES to the call!

This is the foundation and would honestly be my only point if I could only share one piece of advice. I feel like Jesus makes it pretty clear that He wants us to be all in. In Matthew 16:24-26 Jesus talks about denying yourself and being sold out to the call of God if you really want to find life through Him. For me, Worship Leading isn’t a talent or a choice, it’s a lifestyle and something I need to continue to die to and let God use me in however He wants. Whether it looks like saying yes to rehearsals when I might want to be anywhere else or saying yes to leading a service instead of taking the morning off – I guess saying yes looks like sacrificing and dying to your wants and accepting HIS call over your life instead.

Tyler Douglass