5 tips for leading worship in a small group, church plant or house church

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you would think that leading worship in

a smaller setting would be easier than

leading for a group of hundreds or maybe

thousands of people but I've actually

found the opposite to be true so if you

have the opportunity to lead worship for

10 or 20 people here's 5 tips to help

you out hi i'm dave dolphin at

practicalworshipblog.com sharing ideas

tips and practical advice for the

everyday worship leader and on this

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out leading worship in a smaller setting

brings with it its own unique challenges

and differences but it can be a

beautiful and intimate time of worship

if you understand how it differs from

leading a group maybe even of just a

hundred people and making the

appropriate adjustments I have a friend

named Nathan who leads worship for a

small church that meets in a coffee shop

so he's got a lot of advice on this kind

of a thing and I want to give him a few

moments to share his knowledge and

advice so here's Nathan Drake leading

worship for a small group of people can

be intimidating like really intimidating

when I said small group I mean maybe 20

25 people or less it could be a house

church or a church plant or maybe just a

community group or life group or

whatever your church calls those things

in America this would be considered a

tiny Church but in a lot of parts of the

world this is typical so whether you're

a worship leader in a small church or

worship leader in a large Church who may

be asked to lead worship in a smaller

setting or even just someone who got

recruited to lead worship at your

community group today I want to give you

some tips and encouragement about

leading worship in a smaller setting and

how it differs from a larger Church you

would think that leading in front of a

hundred people or a thousand people

would be more intimidating than in front

of ten people but often it's quite the

opposite I think there's several reasons

for this

one is that you can see every pair of

eyes on you when you're in a large group

setting that the people can kind of meld

into like there's a worship II blob kind

of thing but when you're in a small

group you can see every individual

person looking at you but I think one of

the biggest issues with leading worship

in a small

group is that many people are more

hesitant to sing in a small group than

in a large group people who aren't

confident singers can blend into a large

group but when they're in a group of

just 10 or 24 people they'll be afraid

that people can hear them sing and since

they're not competent singing they just

won't sing at all so there are some

issues that are unique to leading

worship in small groups now let's see

how we can address those issues the most

important thing is that you need to be

willing to change things seem to go the

worst when a worship leader comes into a

small group setting and then tries to

lead worship exactly how they would in a

large group it just doesn't work now I

don't tend to do this a lot but I know

some worship leaders like to make the

worship sets like this this nice

polished entity inside of the service so

we'll start with like a countdown and

then the countdown is over I'll play

these four chords like eight times while

this guy reads Psalm gets everybody

pumped up for the first song which is

really fast after the first song

keyboard player I'll transition with

some nice minor chords and a nice pad

and we'll sing a contemplative song sing

that chorus like 38 times or so then

we'll have another transition and I'll

pray that the Holy Spirit is with us and

then we'll hope that the Holy Spirit is

there because I don't like lying when

I'm praying and then well kind of pump

everything back up we'll play a brand

new song new transition drummer those

are drum solo sure they don't know the

song yet but there's like 200 people in

the room so surely somebody'll know it

then when you bring that worship

services into small group you end up

just having 20 people watching you

perform a worship set that isn't for

them so let's talk about the specific

things that may need to change the first

of which is the song keys now I would

always advocate that you choose keys

that are good for your congregation to

sing in but I know sometimes when we're

leading in a larger setting with a

worship band and everything we pick keys

that are maybe good for musicians or

good for our other singers or maybe even

just good for our voice and when you're

in a larger setting at tends to work out

because there will be people in the

group that can sing in that key in a

small group the wrong key will be far

more obvious so you may need to bring

the key of the song down a little bit

up a little bit and maybe a little

uncomfortable for your voice but trust

me if the people can sing out loud you

will feel much better about the song

another interesting thing about a small

group is that if it's one that you

leadership in often you probably know

what your people like to sing like for

instance my current church I was making

the keys so that they could sing melody

but like half of the people in my church

always sing harmony no matter what key

the song is in so I started changing the

keys of the song so it fit their

harmonies better than the melodies once

you get used to the group you're leading

in you may adjust keys based on how they

sing when it comes to arranging the song

itself I would say focus on the vocals

and not the music when you have a full

loud amplified band you can have really

nice like intros that are a couple bars

long and interludes between between

verses that are really long but in a

small group setting when maybe it's just

you on the guitar those four bars in the

beginning can feel like an eternity

people are just staring at you waiting

for the singing to begin so just adjust

those just focus more on the vocal parts

of the song because those are the parts

that the people can participate in the

easiest also be willing to adjust during

the song for instance if you get to the

bridge of a song and you're planning on

playing at 4 or 6 times and when you get

to it that people just stop singing

because maybe they don't know that part

of the song or the keys too high or

something then you don't have to play it

all the time as you planned you can just

play it once or twice and then move back

onto the chorus the parts of the song

you know that people can participate in

be willing to adjust to what's best for

the people something I think is very

important in small group worship is

explaining you can't just rely on the

power of the worship experience to drive

everybody to worship you need to explain

and then explain and then when you're

done explaining explain some more I have

noticed a trend with worship leading

lately that people are encouraging

worship leaders to talk less and to be

more focused on musical transitions and

the flow of worship and I don't think

that's a great idea all of the time I

don't want to go super in-depth on this

right now because that's not what this

video is about if you're interested in

that I do have a video on the my

studio channel that you can watch but

suffice it to say people knowing what

they are singing and why they are

singing it will go much farther in

helping their worship experience then

smooth transitions and a great worship

flow all this to say that small group

worship really is a group activity

you cannot leave people behind in a

large church setting it ends up just

being a few people who plan the worship

and a few people who lead the worship

and that's just kind of the nature of

the beast but in a small church setting

you need to make sure that everyone

feels like they are part of the worship

service I'm not saying everyone needs to

like stand up and give their testimony

or something but all those things we

talked about before like adjusting the

keys and adjusting the song while you're

playing them focusing on the vocals

explaining what you're doing those are

all meant to make the people feel like

they are a genuine part of the worship

of service even though leading worship

in a small group can be challenging and

intimidating you don't need to be

discouraged because the very same reason

that it's intimidating is why it's so

rewarding when you can see every pair of

eyes on you you can also see when every

pair of eyes is on God in many ways

you're more a part of the service than

you are in a larger group sometimes in a

larger church setting we're up on stage

physically separated from people we have

monitor mixes going on we have the band

playing we have display going on and we

kind of end up in our own little world

apart from the rest of the congregation

but when you're sitting in someone's

living room or in a small cafe

worshipping you don't have the option to

be in your own little world you are a

part of the group there's a very toxic

brand of church growth culture going

around that says being small means

you're doing something wrong that is

patently false look at the individual

that person's worship is essential to

their well being and their relationship

with God it doesn't matter that there's

a thousand people there or ten people


worship is essential to the Christian

life and being able to lead worship is a


it doesn't matter how big or small the

group if you want to check out more

videos from Nathan he has a brand new

YouTube channel called - studio and he

does similar videos to what you'd find

here I'm practical worship but he really

caters the content to those that are

leading in small situations and small

churches he's also got a great YouTube

channel where he does acoustic covers of

hymns I'm gonna link all that up in the

description below well here a practical

worship we love sharing ideas and tips

and practical advice for the everyday

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also want to offer a resource in the

form of a small fee book called 20

things I wish I knew 20 years ago it's

the advice that I've learned over the

last 20 years of doing music ministry

and you can download it right now for

free by going to