Summer Survival Guide for Worship Leaders

Posted On: 06.18.2019

Entering into the summer months can be a mixed bag for worship leaders. On one hand, the craziness of Easter has worn off and a more relaxing pace can be sustained from week to week. On the other hand, half of your volunteers are on vacation, the high school student that’s a prodigy on drums has gone to summer camp, and you’re left trying to recruit volunteers from other ministries in the church (sorry children’s ministry, we need Ms. Sandy to rock out on keys for a week or two). Not all is lost though! Here are some ideas to keep your sanity in the midst of the summer slump many worship leaders experience.


If you’re used to a full band, the transition into something more stripped down can be difficult. But, instead of having to stress out each week trying to find a full rhythm section that’s available, maybe plan to do a full band once a month and fill in the gaps with an acoustic set. An acoustic set can be as simple as an individual leading with an acoustic guitar or piano, or it can include some percussion or another instruments to round things out just a little more. Simply adding a few vocalists to a stripped down set can go a long way in creating a full sound without needing a full band.


You might be thinking, “tracks? What is this? The 80’s? Do I need to bring my cassettes back and sing along with the instrumentals?” I mean, everything comes back in fashion right? Well, if you still have your instrumental cassettes I’d be super impressed, but for the rest of us there are some really cool modern alternatives to the cassette that can help your band out.


If your electric guitarist is out for the summer but everyone else is still ready to serve, one convenient option is using electric guitar tracks to fill that empty spot. Companies like MultiTracks and LoopCommunity exist for this very thing. They’ve got everything – ranging from full band instrumentals of songs all the way to single instrument tracks. 


Using multi-tracks can be a little bit complicated for some because in-ear monitors, playing to click, and good guide tracks are necessary to pull it off. But, if your church has a sound system and an open input, pads are the thing to fill out the space. A pad usually just stays on the home chord of the key, so when you play piano or guitar over it, a fuller sound is accomplished. Just plug in your computer or phone to the sound board, hit play on a pad in the key of your song, and play over top of it. I’ll include some links to pads in the bottom of this blog. If you’re interested in some ambient guitar pads, I’ll include a link to some I’ve created just for you for FREE: 


Another thing you could do on a Sunday, when your band looks especially sparse, is hire an outside guest worship leader. This can be a great way to give your team the time off while maintaining a full band worship experience. Hiring another band or worship leader for one Sunday could be just what you need in the summer season.  You and your congregation will be poured into with an added bonus of a Sunday off for you.


Worship for many has become synonymous with music. While music is a very popular and very effective way to worship, it’s not the only way to worship. If you are a worship leader or worship pastor, consider adding some non-musical elements to the worship service as a way to keep things fresh and thriving while your team is slim. Think of ways to engage people creatively that don’t require you leading them in song. Here are a few options to consider:


           10 minutes dedicated to leading the congregation through prayer prompts or scripture. Introduce the concept of guided prayer and then put a word or a scripture on the screens. Have people pray through a passage, or even just attributes of God.


            Get the congregation out of their seats and visit a few interactive locations set up around the sanctuary. Maybe have a box of sand where people can confess before God [their sin]; and then wipe it away in remembrance of what Christ does for us. There are endless possibilities!


           Take the time allotted in a service for a song or two and put it towards teaching your congregation more about what worship is. Maybe you could select specific worship song lyrics and read them over your congregation, encouraging them to grab hold of specific lyrics.

My prayer for you as you enter the summer season is that God would continue to do a work in and through you. He can bring freshness to your services, even when Planning Center might be filled with empty slots. Choose to lean in rather than just surviving through summer!


Jesse Phillips

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