Jamie Brown offers tips for surviving as a worship leader in a small group setting:
I wonder if some worship leaders who have become accustomed to leading large numbers of people in worship (and by “large” I mean “any number too large to fit in a living room”) have gotten the wrong impression that the rules that apply to encourage people singing in a living room don’t apply in a sanctuary or auditorium. While the trappings, instrumentation, volume, etc., might change from the living room to the church building, the principles you learn in a circle of 5-10 people don’t/shouldn’t change at all when you find yourself on a stage with a sound system.
Here’s what you have to learn in order to survive as a worship leader in a small group setting:
1. The songs need to be singable
Hard melodies, intricate rhythms, and weird syncopations won’t fly in a small group. You might cover them up a bit better in a large setting, but they’re just as hard for people.
2. The key is key
You’ll learn really quickly in a small group that if you’re hanging around Ds and Es and (please, no) Fs or Gs, things get awkward really fast. You might mask this with the amplification and anonymity in a larger setting, but it still makes Joe the Plumber give up singing just as much. (I’ve written on this in detail before. And here too.)
3. Show offs are turn offs
Try pulling a guitar solo while leading worship in a small group. You might not notice the weird glares as much in a large group as you would in a small group, but epic musical moments with no other purpose than to showcase an epic musical moment leave just as large a percentage of people scratching their heads.
4. Competence begets confidence
The best kind of small group worship leader is competent. He or she doesn’t need to be amazing, know more than three chords, or even just know how to press “play” or put together a song list/play list. He or she needs to be competent in their calling. People respond well to competence. They are scared by weakness and they’re turned off by arrogance.