The Hour Before

The post is a part of a larger series of posts all focused on the topic of the hour before church begins for a worship leader (check out some of the other posts too, there’s lots of good ones). Each post takes a different look and perspective into what goes on for them the hour before.

Being a worship leader carries far more responsibility than what meets the eye. It takes hours of preparation and study of both Scripture and music. It takes hours of practice with the band, vocal, and technical teams. It takes getting a large group of people all on the same page so the church gathering has some structure, flow, and purpose. It’s a lot more than singing 6 songs and going home.

Often in the last minutes leading up to starting I’m deciding whether fixing lyric issues, getting a drink of water, saying hi to people as they arrive, touching base with a band member to clarify a problem we had in practice, or talking with the various pastors involved to nail down some transitions, should be my top priority. I usually have no idea which one is most important, and there is just simply not enough time to balance it all on a normal Sunday.

With all of this going on, it’s difficult to get in the frame of mind to not only lead worship, but also just simply worship myself while balancing a number of details.

As I thought about my hour before, I thought of 4 things I absolutely have to do to be most prepared:

  1. Spend time with the band and vocals– There’s a debate on whether the worship leader should spend time greeting people as they arrive or if time should be focused towards those the leader is serving with for the day. I tend to focus more of my time bonding with the people I’m serving with because I notice a difference in our ability to play together when we’ve related together.
  2. Pray– After a difficult practice, I often try to convince myself that I need time to mentally go through the details rather than pray. But inevitably I take the time to pray myself and with the team and I realize afterwards why I’ve made that a priority before. As I’m walking on stage my prayer is always, “God use me as you would.” It’s a humbling prayer, putting me under Him instead of over Him.
  3. Run Through Everything in My Head– This isn’t my top priority because I always like to run through the transitions between songs as well as any specific things I know I want to share. I usually don’t do this out loud, that would make me look weird, but I do take a few quiet moments to process all of the key parts I have during the church gathering.
  4. Come with Expectation– Too often I approach a church gathering with no anticipation for the ways God is going to work and with no expectation for him to show up in a powerful way. Far too often I go through the motions as I prepare to take the stage. Because I’m leading worship so often I rarely find myself anticipating God to show up in a unique way. I think there’s a strong correlation to sensing a connection with God in worship and the expectation/anticipating we enter into worship with.

For those of you involved in church, what are some things you do the hour before to prepare well?