It’s comical isn’t it? And painful at the same time. But fast forward the clothing and hair styles 20 years and I’ve seen this same picture in every ministry context I’ve ever served in. A few years ago I came across some excellent footage of me leading worship as a 17 year old at my youth group. I looked like this picture, plus a little more awkward-teenage boy-ness. 10 years later I don’t look like that anymore. That’s because over the last 10 years I have worked hard on something really important. It’s a crucial skill that needs to become second nature for anyone who spends time on a stage in front of people:
It’s called stage presence
Stage presence is awesome! You know why? Because it helps you communicate to the people in front of you that you really care about being there. It says that you really believe in what you are saying/singing/playing/miming. It communicates to your audience that what you’re telling them or asking them to join in with is worth while. In the context of leading worship it serves to support the words and the music and it helps your audience enter in to worship with you.
Here’s the other thing about stage presence. Sometimes you might think to yourself that you look foolish. Sometimes you might think to yourself that it’s pointless. Sometimes (and I hear this a lot) you convince yourself, “that’s just not me.”
Let’s help you get rid of some of those excuses by getting you to ask yourself a few questions. I’m convinced that anyone can learn stage presence if they’ve already taken the frightening step of getting up on stage in front of people.
1. Do I genuinely mean what I’m singing?
- This is not to say that lack of stage presence means you need to get right with God, but if you’re there to serve and point people to Jesus shouldn’t you try to convey some authentic joy about what He has done in your life? If the song is joyful – be joyful. If the song is reflective – be reflective. If you’re singing “We stand and lift up our hands”…keep them in your pockets, of course.
2. What is my role and how can I perform my role to the best of my ability?
- I’d like to think heaven is full of all the instruments and tools that we love to use here on earth to worship God…everything except music stands. I hate music stands! Come prepared so that you’re not glued to your music stand for the whole 5 song set. You know your music more than you realize, if you don’t you need to fix that because it means you’re not practicing which also communicates that you don’t care. If you’re prepared you will be confident in your parts. If you are confident in your parts you have more freedom to make eye contact with the congregation, move around on stage, pump your fists etc.
3. What do I look like on stage? Is that how I want to look? How can I take small steps to be a more engaging worship leader and serve the congregation better?
- If you are on stage playing worship music in front of people then you are automatically leading worship. You might not think that (though you should) but the congregation is certainly thinking that. Find out if there is any video footage of a recent time you’ve been on the worship team. Most churches will be able to get that footage for you or at least be able to set it up for the next time around. Watch it and evaluate yourself. It might help to compare yourself with someone who you think has great stage presence. Make a list of the things that you need to work on and start working on them. You don’t have to jump way out of your comfort zone right away to attain better stage presence. All you need to do is commit to practicing it and working on it and you’ll get better.
I hope you’ll challenge yourself with this. I promise you this is important and I promise you that you can learn to have great stage presence.