There’s been many a battle cry, leading people forward in confidence and braving the fight and struggle that lies ahead.
I find that the same needs to be applied when you lead people in worship.
But what is vocally leading?
Simply put, it’s where you say out loud the next part of the song that you’re wanting to head, usually in the form of saying the first line of that part.
When you vocally lead people to where you want to go, it serves two purposes. The main purpose is to give a signal to your musicians as to where you are taking the song, hopefully in tune with the Holy Spirit as to what God wants in the worship directed to Him. The second reason is often overlooked, but by leading the worship team vocally, you also end up leading the congregation as well. Two birds, one stone saying ensues…
Often the worship team sets up a myriad of hand signals designed to direct the team to different parts of the song. These are very useful, especially where space between parts is limited, or if there is a sense of quiet reflection and it might be difficult to vocally lead the next part of the song sensitively. But it needs to be coupled with strong vocal leading.
As a guitarist, I don’t have hand signals, but foot signals. My foot signals won’t actually lead the team to different parts of the song, but instead instructs whether I’m wanting to bring up the dynamics of the song, or bring it down to quiet and possibly bring a close to the song. Leading to the different parts have to either be vocally lead, or I have to launch into the next part and do the first line or so as a solo, which sometimes works just fine.
So, how do I vocally lead?
As you arrive at the end of a chorus, or verse or chorus, and some direction is needed, stop singing (whilst allowing the congregation and backing vocals to carry the song) and simply say the line of the next part you are feeling the Holy Spirit is leading you. As an alternative to simply saying it, build it into a tune, so that you are almost singing the direction you wish to head. It really is that simple. Remember, you don’t have to sing everything. You can stop and lead everyone, including the congregation, into the next part of the song.
Why is it important?
As mentioned, it leads your fellow musicians, as well as the congregation. But it also allows you to move away from what I call ‘prescribed worship’, where the order of the parts of the song is already decided on and practiced. It doesn’t necessarily lend itself to any adjustment or freedom, to be lead by the Spirit, to repeat a verse, or sing another chorus or even head to a new song altogether. It is important to be able to be free enough to allow for this, to adapt with how the congregation is engaged, and to feel God’s presence, and by vocally leading during these times, the music team and congregation can follow you with confidence as they worship.