Winning Ways to Begin Worship

Featuring John Telman Posted on August 27, 2008

Once into a set of songs, worship leaders hit a stride. Most of the time confidence will heighten after a song or two but how does one start strong?

Let's consider some positive and excellent ways to begin.

Many (if not most) churches will begin services with worship in song. The most natural thing for the people of God is to approach him with worship, so beginning a service with song is very appropriate. This is not to say you must begin with music, however. If your congregation has found another way to begin, consider the following suggestions as pertaining to the moment you DO begin to sing.

In one church where I served, the choir, musicians, and back-up singers were behind a curtain. We began a song, often a Capella, while the curtain was still closed and could hear the congregation responding even before the curtain was open. It created a sense of anticipation. There was something about the moment we were together, eyes meeting, when the curtain was fully open. Maybe your church has a way to create the same sense of anticipation. Here are some other ideas:

Focus On God

1) Open with a scripture that centers on who God is. Have someone speak it (not just read it) with the band supporting. Some verses that can work well are as follows.  Psalm 36:5-7 or Psalm 8:9 or Psalm 36:5 or Psalm 59:16, 17 or Psalm 89:8-11. (For a list of about 30 more of these verses, check out our website and look for Then, sing to God! Resist telling people to worship. Just speak to the audience of one!

2) Begin with a prayer of thanksgiving for who God is. Again the band can support. Let it be a prayer that is not asking for anything but only one of gratitude. You can say something like, "God, we are so grateful for your mercy in our lives..."

3) Another approach is to start your set with a song of praise that focuses on the character of God. Get people's attention onto the magnificence of God as early in the set as possible.

Focus On The Body Of Christ (the Church)

1) Without scolding the people, encourage them with scripture. Someone can, once again, speak a scripture (with band support) that encourages worship. Some verses that can work well are as follows: Psalm 18:2,3, Psalm 24:8, Psalm 33:1, Psalm 118:24, or Psalm 148:13

2) A prayer of thanksgiving for what God has done for his people can also start a service. This can be a prayer that is unique to the congregation such as his provision or his healing experienced by the congregation. "God, we your people give you praise for giving us this place to meet..."

3) Again, instead of saying anything at all, a worship leader can just start with a great song that brings us all together as one,  like Lincoln Brewster's new song, "Today is the day". The idea is to begin with a song that will speak of what will be done and why.

The most important thing to do is to lead others with joy and purpose. Skill in leading worship includes how well we begin. As well as choosing songs, learning the music, and memorizing the lyrics, we do well to really think about how the worship time begins. Let's seek to engage people.