Leading Worship Alone

One of my least favorite things in the world is leading worship alone. It can feel extremely intimidating. It might be because I don’t consider myself a particularly wonderful vocalist, and I like having the band help drown me out. But I have had enjoyable experiences leading worship alone.

In fact, leading a solo worship set can actually be a freeing experience if you embrace it. Instead of focusing on leading the band, you can direct all your attention to those in the congregation. You can see where they are and say things when necessary.

Here are five things to consider when leading worship alone that will help you create an engaging worship experience.

1. Don’t Apologize for the Lack of Band

If you’re apologetic for leading worship alone or expressing your disappointment that you don’t have a band with you, the congregation will feel the same way. Instead, own it. Be bold and dominate the experience. Some of the most exciting worship experiences I’ve been involved in have been led by just one guy with a guitar.

2. Don’t Focus on Your Skills as a Musician

It can be tempting to play your most complex chords and use your most advanced techniques when you’re leading worship alone. It makes sense, because this is your opportunity to be heard without being drowned out by other band members. But you don’t need to do this. You’re leading worship, not playing a coffee shop. Focus on what comes naturally. Depending on your skill as a musician, that might be rather complex. If you’re more of a beginner, it might mean simple chord structures. But as you play effortlessly, the worship experience will feel effortless. That’s a great experience to be part of.

3. Be Inviting

The huge opportunity you have in leading worship alone is that people aren’t intimidated. It’s just you and your instrument, not a rock band with huge amplification. Be personal and personable. Invite people along for the journey of worship. This means you can feel free to talk a bit more. You can interject instructions in the middle of a song. Be flexible and work with the congregation.

4. Use Dynamics

Play softly and loudly. Sing loudly and softly. Since you don’t have the band to back you up, be sure to add dynamics to your worship set. To see a perfect example of dynamics, check out Howie Day singing at a coffee shop. He’s a master. (Also his looping is really cool.)

5. Focus on Melody-Driven Songs

Some of my favorite songs just don’t cut it in times where I’m leading worship alone. If the song relies on guitar riffs or instrumental elements, those tend not to work best in these solo situations. Instead, choose songs that are primarily about singing. This will increase engagement.

There’s my list of tips to help you when you are leading worship with no accompanying band. I’d love to hear your thoughts. What tips do you have for solo worship leading success?

4 responses to Leading Worship Alone and Making it Engaging

  1. I agree. I’m leading worship in a tiny new home church. It’s just me and my acoustic. I’m used to the full worship band experience, but now it’s just me. I am diversely keeping it simple, melodic, dynamic, and casual.
    So far it’s working great!

  2. Dude this is exactly what I needed to hear! Many thanks. Many times I’ve lead worship by myself and I’ve struggled with exactly how to make it “dynamic” but I see its just about being simplistic and melodic that will help the congregation in their worship experience.

    God Bless 🙂

  3. This really helped me. I’m currently the only vocalist and it’s been hard. But God is strengthening me to be bold and courageous.

  4. Terry Leatherman March 13, 2017 at 9:54 am

    Thank you for this. I am currently in a one guy one guitar at church. I have a deep voice and trying to adjust my cadence in some songs is difficult at times. Especially if the congregation is used to it differently. Its kinda like being led in worship by Johnny Cash. Lol

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