A Simple Guide To Co-Leading

Posted by Lex Buckley on 20 October 2016

Leading worship is definitely not confined to something that we should always do on our own – there are so many benefits of leading with other worship leaders. I want to share a few things I’ve learned over the years that may help to make the experience of co-leading a successful one for you!

It’s Not Just For Beginners
After gaining experience leading in small groups, often the next step is to co-lead with a more experienced worship leader at church. It allows you to step out, to grow, and to get familiar with leading a band without being thrown into the deep end on your own straight away. It also helps the church to get to know you by putting you with a familiar worship leader. I found this so helpful when I was starting out. But co-leading is not just great for when you’re learning to lead, it is also so fun to co-lead with other worship leaders no matter where you are on the journey of leading worship. It’s great to mix different styles, to have men and women leading together, or to have multiple worship leaders leading together. For those who are at churches where predominantly one worship leader leads worship during services, co-leading is often refreshing for the worship leaders and for the church, and helps to shift the focus off one person.

Co-lead With Someone You’re Comfortable With
Leading worship is such a vulnerable thing, so whether you are learning to lead, leading with one of your peers, or training another worship leader, it’s ideal to lead with people you know well or at least have spent some time with. It’s just hard to communicate well about anything if you’re not comfortable with someone. When you are co-leading, communication is particularly important because you are not only communicating with the band, you also need to be communicating with each other so that you aren’t trying to take the congregation in two different directions. So if possible, lead with people that you know, and who you know are ‘for’ you and you feel comfortable with. It makes things so much easier!

Set Aside Time To Prepare Together
I have been in co-leading situations where, although we had prepared privately beforehand, we only met for five minutes before band practice to work out our final set list. At these times, band practice was a bit all over the place and I’m not sure if any of us in the band felt very confident in what we were doing! So over the years I have learned that it’s really important to take time beforehand to work out the set list and make sure that your vision for that time of worship is united.

Don’t Forget The Arrangements
Working out band arrangements is equally important. My husband Paul and I often co-lead, and we have found that meeting together to work out the set list and band arrangements before band practice is crucial. There were a couple of times when we first co-led together that we didn’t prepare the arrangements in advance, and when it came time for band practice we realized that we had very different ideas of where the songs should go musically. So we decided from then on that we would take more time before band practice to work out the set list and arrangements together. It meant that we could talk thorough our questions or disagreements privately and come to band practice ready to lead well together. It has made such a difference!

Remember To Train Others
As someone who was trained to lead with others, I know how important it is to feel supported and believed in by the more experienced worship leader. So when training other worship leaders, make sure that you are encouraging them to go for it and letting them know that you believe in them. Let them communicate to the band when practicing the songs they are going to lead, even though you may do a better job of it. It’s the only way they will grow in confidence and become familiar with their new leadership role. If they feel supported by you, knowing that you believe in them and that it’s ok to make mistakes, they will grow and thrive in their new role!

(Taken from ‘Rise Up & Sing: Equipping The Female Worship Leader’ by Lex Buckley, published by David C Cook, reused with permission)

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