Last week, I was talking to Matthew Williams, one of the pastors of Kingsway Community Church in Richmond, Va. They’re sending out a group of folks to plant a church in Fredericksburg, Va., this fall. Matthew was asking me how I’d counsel a worship leader who’s starting out on a church plant. In the middle of our conversation, I thought he might not be the only guy asking this question. So here are some of the things I told Matthew I’d do if I was going to lead worship on a church plant.
1. Because people will be coming from different churches, backgrounds, and experiences, I’d plan to take extra time to explain our philosophy of worship. Every other Sunday I might take three to five minutes to talk about some aspect of what we’re doing. I’d want guests to understand worship is more than singing our favorite songs. I’d cover topics like why we sing about Jesus dying for our sins so much, the importance of God’s Word when we sing, why we sing songs with lots of words, the place of physical expressiveness and how the primary sound we want to hear on Sundays is the congregation.
2. I’d start with a list of about 60 songs that included hymns, meatier songs I thought we’d sing a lot (In Christ Alone, Before the Throne of God Above, etc.), and a few familiar songs (Passion, Paul Baloche, etc.)
3. I’d plan to repeat songs frequently so we could build a “musical memory” together. If I was introducing a song most people were unfamiliar with, I’d try to sing it two or three more times in the coming month.
4. I’d build music team membership slowly. I wouldn’t feel pressure to add people to the team because of musical gifting or past experience. Itʼs always easier to wait to add people than to have to remove them later for character reasons.