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?

  • David Santistevan

    Love this, Tyler. Very practical. I do the same things. Your point about coming with expectation is convicting because it’s so easy to organize everything in a predictable fashion and simply execute it. We need to anticipate the moving of the Holy Spirit. Anything is possible.

    • Tyler

      It’s certainly easier to just rely on doing things like they were written and it’s more difficult to build into a band an ability to improvise even a little. I don’t allow for that space near enough.

      • David Santistevan

        Same here, man. I’ve tried building it into our rehearsals more – preparing for the spontaneous. Seems to work well.

  • Rob Rash

    I love number 4 Tyler… I think that is something I personally need to sharpen up. The anticipation and expectation that God is going to work instead of just settling into the routine.

  • Scott Harrison

    Good thoughts Tyler. I live in DFW. I love DFW. :-))

    I’d agree with Rob. I struggle with #4 most. I’m a nazi about preparation, backups and fixes. I sometimes forget the expectation. I usually (not always) feel the rise of expectation during our warm up. I need to focus on it earlier.

    Good word brother. Would LOVE to come to Portland some day.

    • Tyler

      Probably tough to love DFW in the summer when you’re outside.

      • Scott Harrison

        Whats wrong with 107degrees? lol

  • Conor Scholes

    Love your thoughts, and the angle of your take, Tyler…good reminders for all of us!

  • klampert

    great stuff man. I find I need to do a run through in my head. I have been known to transition to a song and sing the melody of 1 song with the lyrics of another. that does not work 🙂

  • Nathan Sutliff

    It’s been said a few times but the power of number 4 is great – Come with expectation. I know i can find myself just hoping for a good set, smooth transitions, and so on and neglect the power behind why we gather. thanks for the post man!