Free Guide: Connection Based Worship LeadingApr 18, 2023
We all want to lead worship at a deeper level. We all want to help our teams and our rooms step into a living moment with Jesus. But this doesn’t just happen automatically - God works through the history that we are developing with Him offstage, where it’s just us and Him. And this is the premise for what I call connection based worship leading.
What is connection based worship leading? It’s the idea that our conversation or connection with Jesus offstage is what we carry with us when we step onstage- and it is out of that place that we lead our own heart, our team, and our room, in worship to Jesus.
Think of it this way. If we are not consistently connecting with Jesus offstage, to some extent it will be awkward to sing to Him for 15, 30, or 45 minutes once a week on a Sunday morning- because our relationship with Him is not really active. But if we’re regularly interacting with Jesus offstage throughout the week, then it’s much more natural to lift our voice to Him when we lead worship on the weekend. Because in essence we’re simply continuing the conversation that we were having with Him offstage- now we’re just doing it with a team and room full of people.
For me it’s helpful to think of connection based worship leading in 3 parts- 1) consistently developing our connection with Jesus offstage, 2) learning how to access that connection with Him when we’re onstage, and 3) bringing the team, and the room into that same space- so that we’re corporately stepping into a living moment with Jesus.
If I were to unpack these 3 parts a bit more, it would look something like this.
DEVELOPING OUR CONNECTION WITH JESUS OFFSTAGE
This is where it all starts. We consistently give Jesus our time each day- time to sit before Him in stillness and silence, to be present to Him. Time to speak to us through His Word, to show us more of what He’s like, more of His ways. And then time to open up our own hearts in vulnerability to Him through prayer that we speak or sing or journal out.
The gold we gain through cultivating our connection with Him like this is priceless- you can’t fake it, you can’t buy it, you can’t manufacture it. And as it begins to affect your life simply as a follower of Jesus, it begins to overflow into your worship leading.
ACCESSING OUR CONNECTION WITH JESUS ONSTAGE
Whether we’re aware of it or not, the connection we’re developing with Him offstage is the most significant thing we carry with us onstage- more than the skill on our instrument or with our voice.
One of the things that helped me consistently access my connection with Jesus on stage was meditating on the throne room scene described in Revelation 4. Offstage I’d take a few minutes each day to pray Revelation 4 back to the Lord, phrase by phrase. Then I began to notice that when I’d close my eyes on stage- that throne room scene would pop into my mind frequently.
Visualizing the Revelation 4 throne room scene boosted my faith as I sang, because it reminded me that I wasn’t just singing into the air- but singing to a Person seated on the throne. It also reminded me that I wasn’t just trying to create or rev up a worship time for the room. I was leading the room into joining with the worship of heaven happening around God’s throne.
BRINGING THE TEAM AND THE ROOM INTO OUR CONVERSATION WITH JESUS
Once the worship leader’s connection with Jesus is established onstage, we invite our worship team and the room into that same space. We do this first by just doing what we were already doing…worshiping Jesus :) As simple as it sounds, this is actually so powerful because when the worship leader is worshiping they are opening the door for everyone else to join in. The room is drawn to authenticity, and I believe the room senses when the worship leader is worshiping (whether they’re consciously aware of it or not), which prompts a pull in their own hearts to engage with Jesus. It’s like a ripple effect- when the worship leader worships, the room worships.
We also pick songs the team and the room is familiar with, songs that help steer their hearts to behold and respond to Jesus directly in worship.
And then we lean into God’s heart for what He might want to highlight during the worship time. Maybe the set will go just as planned from song to song, but maybe the Lord wants to highlight a specific theme from one of the songs- maybe a certain part of His nature or His attributes (example: His goodness). Which means that we want to be sensitive to His leading, and ready to pivot and sing what we sense in those moments. We use Scripture to sing what we sense, and then invite the room to respond and sing with us through creating simple choruses.
BECOME A CONNECTION BASED WORSHIP LEADER
I want to encourage you- whether you are currently leading worship or wanting to grow into leading- to take the time to consistently develop and cultivate a living history with Jesus offstage and then watch as it spills over into the way you connect with Him onstage, and lead your team and the room into His presence. Don’t just settle for singing the songs- become a connection based worship leader.
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