Pre-service Rituals

Leading worship is hard work!  It’s physically, emotionally, and spiritually demanding.  Asking an awkward and anxious introvert to lead a time sensitive rehearsal, quickly navigate any problems that come up before the service, and remain spiritually close to God while interacting with a couple hundred people is a lot!  And yet at the same time it feels like it’s what I was made to do.
Over the last few years I’ve become more intentional about developing a consistent rhythm and pre-service ritual that helps to still my soul and center my heart before worship.  For me, this rhythm reminds me a lot of the passage in Ephesians 6 about putting on our armor for God…this weekly pattern helps to keep me rooted in God and centered on the greater task of leading our community.  Any ‘arrows’ that come my way – tech. issues, rehearsal problems, schedule changes – anything that wants to take my focus away from leading people to God just bounces off the armor when I’ve taken the time to suit up.
I wish I could tell you that I follow this list item by item every single week, but I don’t.  Life happens and things come up.  Some weeks I feel more refreshed and centered than others, and I can always tell the difference when I worship. Here’s my pre-worship rhythm:

Saturday Evening
1.    Begin to wind down for the evening.  I like to play through the worship set one last time, meditate on the scripture for the week again, and finalize what my transitions will be (what can I say to help connect people to God, to help make meaningful connections and transitions for the community during worship).
2.    Watch something funny on Hulu to relax.
3.    Pray.
4.    Drink a BIG glass of water. I make a conscious decision to stay hydrated in order to sing as well as possible.
5.    Sleep.

Sunday Morning
1.    Drink a BIG glass of water.
2.    Do vocal warm-ups in the shower.  The steam is a great way to open up nasal passages…and who doesn’t like to sing in the shower?!
3.    Eat a healthy breakfast.  (If I’m running late and skip this step I can feel it all morning.  I find myself more anxious and irritable…even if other people can’t tell, I can, and that can be enough to bother me)
4.    Pray.
5.    Drink hot tea and continue with vocal warm-ups on the drive to the church.

Pre-worship  
1.    Pray. After rehearsal, but just before worship starts, it’s incredibly important that I’m able to slip away for five minutes to pray one last.  At this point in the morning any number of things could have – a musician didn’t show up, a song’s not going well, we’re having technical difficulties – whatever it is, I have to have that five minute window to be alone with God and just pray.

Post-worship
After worship, I like to go out to lunch with my wife, and take a LONG nap!

I’d love to hear what others do to prepare your hearts to worship!

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