Leading worship while sheltering at home in 5-4-3-2-1

April 7th, 2020
This article is featured in the Sustaining Worship issue of Ministry During The Pandemic

Worship leaders all over the country are asking the same question, “How can we fill up our week leading worship from home?” But the question behind that question is actually, “How can I justify and keep my worship-leading job while sheltered at home?”

Because of the mandated meeting-in-person limitations, worship leaders are no longer able to rehearse their choirs, bands, worship teams, orchestras and ensembles. Sunday worship services have been streamlined for an online presence and their daily in-person meetings or events have all been cancelled.

Worship leading during this season will obviously be evaluated more on how well worship leaders led off the platform rather than on it. So beyond getting a few songs ready for the live stream, what can or should worship leaders be doing to lead their congregations in worship while sheltering at home? The answers might be as easy as 5-4-3-2-1.

5. Five things you can still do

  • During the COVID-19 crisis congregants are lonely, depressed, scared and some even grieving. Worship leaders can now focus more on ministering to the needs of people instead of just preparing for projects.
  • Communicating and encouraging congregants by phone or text, on video chats or via social media are all vital. Leading them in foundational worship elements such as Scripture and prayer moves beyond just preparing songs for the live stream. But it’s impossible to lead others to a place you aren’t going yourself, so spend time in those worship elements privately before trying to lead them with others virtually.
  • Continue sending your singers and players new charts and scores so they can rehearse at home. Having access to these resources will encourage them to live with the same texts and tunes together each week even while separated physically. You and they will also be ready to teach those new songs to your church family once you can all meet again in person.
  • You now have time to read, listen to and rank all the new songs in those music preview packs that were stacked in the corner of your office. Also spend time on the various online worship music resourcing platforms to listen, pray through and consider a variety of new songs for the future.
  • Plan worship services and rehearsal schedules ahead for several months. You’ve always wanted to be more prepared but because of your hectic schedule have usually defaulted to week by week. Planning ahead will allow you to hit the ground running again once the shelter at home order has been lifted.

4. Four new things you could do

  • Create or recreate a website for your worship ministry. Collaborating with those involved in your ministry to create that tool will help them stay connected to you and each other.
  • Creatives are called to create, so if you’ve had a desire to compose music, write lyrics, begin authoring a book or start a blog, then you certainly have the time.
  • Implement some of those online worship efficiency and enhancement systems such as Planning Center, click tracks, multitracks, in-ear monitors and digital audio workstations that you were previously hesitant to try or didn’t have the time to fully research and implement.
  • Learn how to play or get better at playing guitar, keyboard or another instrument. Some worship leaders have already posted tutorials for a variety of instruments. Bagpipes, however, are probably not the best choice to learn during a shelter at home.

3. Three things to help you personally and professionally

  • Initiate Google Hangouts or Zoom Meetings with several other worship leaders to share creative ideas about leading worship during this season and even when this season is over.
  • Begin an exercise regimen; read books for pleasure and professional growth; read professional articles and blogs; take naps and long walks; and spend quality time with your family. Even though forced, this season may be that sabbatical for which you have been longing.
  • Take online worship-leading courses or workshops to better prepare you to lead in the future. See Worship Leader Boot Camp: https://worshipleaderbootcamp.org/ as an example.

2. Two things to expand your influence

  • Adopt another less experienced and perhaps lonely worship leader. Volunteer to train, coach, mentor, encourage and maybe even assist with financial help during this season and beyond. Offer them free vocal, instrumental or conducting lessons via video chat.
  • Initiate regular Google Hangouts or Zoom Meetings with small groups of your worship leading teams, choirs, tech teams and instrumentalists. They need to hear from you and see your face regularly as a voice of hope and encouragement. You are their pastor, so what better time than this season to pastor them.

1. One thing to help you persevere

  • Enlist a mentor, coach or encourager for yourself during this season. You need to be pastored, too. If you don’t have someone beyond your spouse to process this new reality with, then your tank will empty fairly quickly. How can you expect to lead your team if you don’t have resolve to lead yourself? And you certainly want to be physically, emotionally and spiritually recharged to jump-start all of those in person worship ministries when the time comes to physically meet together again after this crisis is over.
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