Posted by Craig Dunnagan on 21 August 2014

By Craig Dunnagan (VP, Music Publishing and Ministry Alliances, Integrity Music)


For those worship leaders among us who particularly love platform ministry, Sunday is the highlight of the week, a climactic moment when we take our private worship and make it public. However, as much as we'd like to believe otherwise, so few of the people we love to lead in musical worship are ready to join with us the moment they walk into the doors. Most are just hoping and praying to get there on time.

For many people, Sunday morning is another logistical challenge to be slotted in to a weekend of yard work, house work, home work and whatever other work didn’t get completed in the week. While people might want to be ready to worship, we all need a little help transitioning away from the world of tasks and todo lists, away from the hassle of loading the kids into the car and herding them into the building on time and into the realm of God.

That’s why passages like this are so important:

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5, NIV)

While Jesus did a lot of preaching from the front of a crowd, He also spent a significant amount of time moving among the people, touching them, looking in their eyes and extending a hand of healing. He knew the importance of finding the right balance between Preacher and Pastor.

For worship leaders, it is the balance between Pastor and Performer that we often struggle with. We like the fact that people want to hear our excellent musical offerings but we can easily forget that they also want to know that we understand where they have been.

With that in mind, try these six tips to help those you love and lead get their hearts, minds and voices ready for worship:

  1. Think about spending time among the people in the lobby, seats or pews. Let them see you saying hello, shaking hands and greeting them. When the music starts they see a fellow worshipper and not a “personality” on stage. This is not practical for every church but there are expressions of this that will work at different times during the week or life of the church.
  2. Normal people don't do vocal warm ups in the car on the way to church. I know there are proven techniques of "gathering" songs (the songs everyone knows). But that still assumes a work-wearied believer can actually go from "zero to worship" in 60 seconds or less. Try starting the service with a short refrain of a simple, accessible or classic song or Hymn. You don’t have to sing the entire song but if it’s in the right range and key you can actually transition right from that brief moment to a moment of celebration of God’s greatness and goodness with everyone signing along.
  3. Start the service in a simple way. Play some background music and read a Psalm of praise or one of the many prayers from scripture declaring the greatness and goodness of God. Encourage the congregation to read along out loud. This will get their voices and hearts aligned and ready to participate.
  4. Try using the church’s social media account in the latter part of the week to introduce the songs you’ll be singing on the weekend. This could be through an embedded lyric video (like iWorship videos that can be found at or the lyrics or text of a song embedded in images posted on Facebook.
  5. Countdown videos have become very popular and they have a role to play in getting everyone on the same “clock”. However, I don’t see how a countdown clock prepares anyone’s hearts for worship. There are a variety of worship intros now available that creatively, graphically and even musically set an environment for worship. Again you can explore many excellent ones at If you like the ideas of these worship intros but would prefer them to be song based you can check out iWorship service starters within this category. You can find iWorship Service Starters here.
  6. Finally, pray for the people coming into the church. Pray that God will lighten their load during the week. Ask The Lord for wisdom to know what songs to sing and how to begin the transition from the world outside of the walls to a place of joy and peace where those made righteous in Christ can experience the presence of God through the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 4:17)


Editor's note: Check out iWorship Service Starters as an alternative to countdown clocks. Service Starters from Integrity's iWorship product line prepare your church for worship with a combination of scripture, inspirational thoughts and dynamic graphics, brought to life with powerful worship songs. Find all titles at

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