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7 Practical Worship Leading Tips

Aaron Keyes

13th October 2020

Aaron is a worship pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs.

Aaron and his band travel nationally and internationally, leading worship and training leaders. Aaron has recorded 5 albums, the most recent being a two-part project called “Through it All.” 10,000 Fathers (Worship School) has recorded multiple albums, most recently releasing “Just That That: 10 Years of 10,000 Fathers” in 2019.

Aaron's latest project, Mere Worship, is a private network of worship leaders from around the world who are helping each other to navigate worship leading, particularly during Covid-19. It's a space to ask and discuss difficult questions, and to learn, share and grow with one another. We are so much better together than on our own! Find out more from Aaron and Mere Worship below.





 7 Practical Worship Leading Tips


Hey friends! I want to I gave you the top seven pieces of advice that are practical and implementable immediately today for worship leaders. We're going to cover a few different topics, and every one of these is something that you can do today. We're going to start two tips for vocals:


1. Hydrate On Thursday

This was one of the biggest things that changed the game for me, as far as not losing my voice after a long day of singing, or a long multi-day event goes. It takes water three days to benefit your vocal chords from the time that you drink it! I used to show up to events and start pounding water, and then I'd lose my voice three days in because I was way too late. You've got to start hydrating three days before you sing - so Thursday and Friday, get that water and drink up!


2. Warm Up!

This is kind of a no brainer, right? But still, a lot of people just get out there to begin leading worship, and start belting out. It's crazy! I can't imagine going to the gym to work out, or going for a jog and putting my shoes on, going out the door and sprinting. Stretch a little bit, take your time, loosen up your vocal chords. I mean, this is the only pair that God's going to give you, so take care of them!


3. Download The Amazing Slow Downer App

This one is for your musical needs! Get an app called The Amazing Slow Downer. You can upload any song into it, and then can play that song at whatever speed you need it to be to learn the parts for. So, if you're learning a song and it's got a fast guitar line or piano part or something like that, you can slow it down from a hundred percent to much slower, 30% or 40%, and it doesn't mess with the pitch. So you can sit and practice parts at a fraction of the pace and work your way up. It's really cool! You can even save and loop sections. This has been a game changer for me to learn more complicated guitar parts, especially blue-grassy stuff.


4. Good In-Ear Mixes

This one is a more technical tip if your church uses in-ear monitors. As soon as we were given the power to mix our own ears, a lot of musicians were like, 'this is great, I can finally control my own mix!'. But unless those musicians have been trained in audio, they probably don't know how to get the best sound out of their mix as a mix engineer would, right? So I'm going to give you the best tip that I ever got, here it is.


After you've gotten your mix to where you think it should be, turn your body pack almost all the way down till you can barely hear anything coming out of your ears. And now, listen whilst it is very quiet, what still stands out? Is the click too loud? Snare drum, acoustic guitar, a singer? Because once you bring it down, your ears can really pay attention to what's still peaking above the threshold that you've put the volume down to. This is the last this thing that I do every time I mix in-ears, and it's one of the most helpful. I'm often surprised at the things that I didn't notice were really hot in the mix until I pulled the mix way down.


5. Pick Scriptures To Go With Your Songs

This one is more of a pastoral tip. If you're picking three songs for church this week, pick three scriptures that go with each of those songs. For example, if you're doing It Is Well With My Soul, think about if there are three scriptural texts that you could be meditating on this week. Get them into your soul, so that as you lead it this coming Sunday, you've got something scriptural to go with it. Even if you don't mention any of those scriptures, the fact that you've been soaking in them will help you lead. Whatever the scriptures are, the tip is dig into ones that correlate to these songs. If you can't find scriptures any, you might need to rethink your song - the chances are you'll have lots of good options though. And as you internalize that scripture, again, even if you don't say anything, when you lead the song, it's going to come out of you with a different measure of authority. 


6. Go Small

This one is cultural - go small. A lot of us want to change the worship cultures at our churches. We want to see the worship of our nation change. We want to see the world change. But that's not how things change. Things change when little groups of people start changing. At worship school, we teach about culture, and we say: culture is whatever's normal for any group of people. So culture might be different from one group of people to the next, and there might be totally different cultures even though the houses are next door. What's normal there is not normal here. So often, we want to shift the culture at our church, but we start with the big picture - macro culture, and there's all kinds of layers, momentum and investment to that. The culture being what it is, you're probably not going to get the most traction by trying to aim for that right out of the gate. But cultures change when sub cultures change. So maybe you don't have the authority to shift the entire trajectory of worship at your church, but could you invite some people over for dinner? And then spend a little time reading the Psalms, praying together, maybe sing a song or put on a video? You can do stuff in the small context that you could never do in the big context. And it's as those small subcultures all start moving in a direction that the entire macro culture will start going with it. But we'll never get there if we only go big.


7. Live Well

And then lastly? Live well. If you don't want your life, no one else is going to want your life! I was talking to a guy who's an elder in Colorado at his church, and they were thinking about hiring a worship leader. So I asked how it was it going, you know, how's the process looking? And he said, 'you know what? I would be thrilled if this candidate were investing in my kids lives.' Interesting! He didn't talk about the ability to play guitar or keys, lead a team or sing. He talked about character. He talked about who this leader is off stage. One of the best things you could do? Go get a life! Get a life that you want. Then maybe other people eventually will want it. Discipleship requires that somebody somewhere wants your life. If you don't want it, I promise nobody else will. But if you will follow the way of Jesus, an abundant life overflowing (not just concerned about the eternal one), the fruit of that grows over time. God does not impart fruit. Fruit and gifts are not the same thing. God gives gifts, but He grows fruit. This stuff takes time! So what's one thing you could do today to enrich your own life? Be inspired, be generous to serve someone, rejoice, take time with the Lord and praise and worship, whatever that might be!


We cover this stuff a lot more in depth at worship school, 10,000 Fathers, and then also at Mere Worship, but hopefully one or two or maybe all seven of these tips will be helpful for you in your leadership. 


If you're interested to hear more of what Aaron has got to say, or want to find out more about Mere Worship, then head to the website below. There are loads of articles and videos to discover!