One thing about song leading that is a must is this…
…the song leader has to enjoy leading music! No matter if the leader knows how to lead it, knows how to read music, or even has the greatest voice – if you love to lead music you will continually desire to learn and therefore get better at it. (This goes for me too!)
1. Every song must be prayed over. The songs that we sing have such powerful messages. If they are led without bathing them in prayer first; we, as the song leader, will not be able to lead the people to sing the song the way it is supposed to be sung.
2. The song leader must be willing to lose himself in the leading of the song. Though we cannot become obnoxious in the leading of the song (that would take away from the dynamic of the message) we must still be willing to lead as though we were leading the choir of heaven is praise before the Lord.
3. Know your timings. It is very important to be able to get the piano, organ (and other instruments) to stay together. Your timing helps the people know what you are doing as well. There have been times where I have created my own pattern (3/4 or 4/4) because I could not get the pattern right but I did have the timing right.
4. You must lead the instruments. If you do not – they will lead you.
5. Show excitement! On your face, with your hands, with your stance. Excitement breads growth and involvement. If you make singing fun – the people will want to sing with you. Too often the song service of a church is so boring that the people become unfocused on what is going on during the song service. There are times that I will slow a song or speed up a song that would normally be opposite to how I am leading just so I can get the people to look up at me and also to get the instrumentalists to follow me. Some songs can get monotonous. Amazing Grace is a powerful song, but can quickly lose its power if it becomes monotonous. So, while singing a song such as that I will slow some measures and speed up others (never too fast), but just enough o change it up a little bit to keep it fresh.
6. Watch and learn from others. I often will watch other song leaders (in our church or while visiting others) and will take note of the differences between us (whether good or bad). I will apply the things that I have learned. I also ask a lot of questions.
7. Know your pastor’s heart! A song leader has the potential of changing the spirit of a service and leading it in a direction that the pastor does not desire for that service. Know him well enough to sense his spirit.