In light of yesterday’s comments I asked Yancy Richmond, new to the Believe tour as a worship leader and artists to weigh in on our conversation. Yancy has been doing pre-teen and jr high worship leading for about 7 years. Until recently she has been on staff in Tulsa, OK at Church on the Move working in Oneighty with programming and bands. We are excited to share this new chapter with Yancy has she joins the CIY Believe Tour and the CIY Superstart Pre-teen Tour.
Jr. high students change. One week you do a song it they love it. They're into it, everybody's having fun, clapping, singing.........next time you do the song, it's flat, they are bored. You scratch your head and think well 3 weeks ago you loved the song, what's the deal? There are songs that work for your group for a season. Let go. Don't keep forcing "Here I Am To Worship" week after week. It's a great song. It's even better just a couple times per year like pulling out home movies and having fun with the good ol' days. "How Great Is Our God" is headed there. Keep things fresh. Pay attention to your students and tweak your set-lists based upon them. I will tell you a couple songs that worked great with our students from day 1: Yes, You Have by Leeland, You Never Let Go by Mat Redman, You Are Good by Jeff Deyo, We Shine by Steve Fee.
Lead them. It's as simple as that. I've found that most local church worship leaders are singing songs but they aren't necessarily leading through their stage presence, action and example leading the group. So #1 it takes a strong personality, focus and drive. If you are leading worship you need to lead in countenance which speaks louder than words and sets tone/culture (part of the job title, in my opinion). How do you do that? It starts with a plan. Have a plan of where you are going to go, things you want to say etc.(In just the same way a speaker practices their points worship leaders should write and practice their transition. You NEVER here of this! The audience trusts you to take them on a worship journey. If you don't have a map-they're not going to get there.
From my experience of leading worship at Oneighty-Our services were very content driven and focused regarding the theme of the night and the best ways we could teach, convey, live and breathe that theme. What does that mean? Two things. The first, just like Johnny mentioned (not yet posted), know the lyrics of the song. Plan songs that tie in to what the message is. I know not all subjects have a corresponding worship tune we can sing but there are a lot of lines that can be drawn......will the students always get that we were pointing to the subject even during our worship time? Not necessarily but music captures times in our lives. What if the next time that student hears that song or it pops in their mind they are reminded of what they were taught in that message? That is seeds taking root in their lives. Number two, don't get in a church rut. We didn't just plan our services the same way each week. 3 songs, offering, announcements, message, game, over. We planned our services around each individual theme. What is best. What moments do we want to create for our students to best illustrate that talk. Sometimes that means less worship time....sometimes that means more worship time. Occasionally that may mean a whole night of worship. Plan your set around what you need ie. Energy, participation, emotional, sincere worship.
I was once told by a young adult youth leader that thinking back on his teenage years he didn't want to just be told to worship but he was much more compelled to worship when he was told a really good reason as to why he should worship. This conversation stopped me in my tracks and really made me decide "if I don't have anything good to say I'm not going to say anything." I'm not going to just be hot spiritual air that doesn't inspire my group of students to sing any louder or worship any harder. What are you teaching your students about worship? This isn't something that's going to happen in one message about worship.....your students aren't going to perfectly figure it out in one night but week by week, nugget by nugget you can build a foundation in them that loves and desires to worship.