At BigStuf, we’re so lucky to have an incredible team helping us put on camp every summer. And Emily Hearn is just one the amazing people who make up our worship team. As a musician and worship leader, Emily has years of experience leading students towards an experience with Christ through worship. That’s why we asked her to share some of her expertise with you! Read on to hear more from Emily about worship and five big things she’s learned about leading.
1. Shrink the space between the stage and the seats. Relate. Be honest.
I believe that we were made to connect with God. We were designed to be in conversation with Him, and worship is a chance to do that. It puts words to our struggles, hopes, and questions. Most people don’t naturally feel free to step right in to singing and worship so it helps if their leader frees them up to be flawed, human, and vulnerable in worship. The best way we can do that is to tell our own stories. I try to leave enough space in a service to make connections with people that I lead by talking to them in between songs. This shrinks the space between the stage and the seats and gives me as a leader a chance to allow God to use my own flawed, human, and vulnerable experiences to lead others.
2. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead and speak through you in the moment.
I truly have learned to lean on the Holy Spirit in leading worship. Before I lead, I ask Him what He wants to say to His people and how I can be used to help Him speak. All the things I’ve learned about leading really hinge on the idea that He must become greater and I must become less, and this is no exception. I want to get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit speak through me in the moments I have to lead.
3. Prepare during the week by praying over the songs, over your leadership, and over the people you’ll be leading.
Prayer is a powerful tool for any believer—one I use daily to help me prepare to lead worship. Before I lead, I start simply by praying over the songs I’m going to be leading throughout the week, the people I’ll be leading alongside, and the leadership God has given me. It not only helps me prepare my heart to lead, but it also helps me maintain my focus on One who I’m leading others to in worship.
4. Singing and musicianship are second to our desire to follow Jesus. Focus less on making it perfect and more on making it real.
As musicians, it’s easy for us to want to focus all our energy on playing really well or sounding better than we ever have before. And while there is a lot to be said to trying to use our gifts with excellence, what’s more important is using our gifts in truth. Avoid the desire to focus on perfection and instead ask God to help you just be authentic. As long as we’re dependent on Jesus and seeking God’s will, we’ll be used in a powerful way to help other people experience connection with God. He so often calls people who aren’t totally ready to prove that He is the one doing the real work!
5. Daily surrender your own desire to be seen and affirmed and constantly point to Jesus.
It’s easy to be drawn in by the presence on stage or the incredible production or the attention of those you’re leading. But it’s my responsibility as a worship leader to turn from those distractions, take the focus off myself, and move the praise where it’s meant to be—to Jesus. By the grace of God, those who are gifted in music have such a great opportunity to lead and connect with others. Just remember that ultimately leading isn’t about you or your gifts, but rather about connecting other with the God who gave those gifts to you.