david santistevan


5 Ways to Improve How You Lead Spontaneous Worship

Part of what makes a time of congregational worship alive and fresh is the spontaneous. It’s the moments in a service where we don’t just ‘read the script’ but actually engage with God in the moment. Imagine a guy taking a girl on a first date. They both get dressed up and hit up the nicest restaurant in town. This guy is even wearing a bow tie. Come on people…a flippin’ bow tie. They sit down at the table ready to engage in romantic conversations and the guy pulls out his new iPad. Instead of gazing in her eyes and speaking from his heart, he proceeds to read a script he’s written. He never looks up to hear her heart, listen to her speak, or veer from the ‘plan’. Seems ridiculous, right?

Without spontaneous aspects to our worship services, our worship of God can seem like this. We don’t stop to listen to what He has to say. We don’t allow a fresh song to arise from our hearts in the moment. We just read the script.

In this post I’d like to offer some suggestions on how you as a worship leader can improve how you lead in the spontaneous.

  • Know your congregation – before you take the dive into spontaneous waters it’s wise to know who you’re leading. Are they new believers who will have no idea what’s going on? If so, do it in such a way that they’ll understand and stay with you. If it’s a group of seasoned worshipers, you could probably get away with long stretches of spontaneous worship & intercession. Takeaway: always make sure the people are with you.
  • Know the proper timing – unless God audibly gives you direction, it’s probably not wise to open a service with a spontaneous tribal chant in tongues or a prophetic rebuke. Utilize good songs to engage people and listen and look for the right time (you probably never want to utilize the prophetic rebuke :))
  • Practice by yourself – don’t expect to just be good at this right away. There are two ways you can practice by yourself: practice listening to the Holy Spirit and practice singing spontaneous songs. I am personally always singing my prayers. Constantly. I probably sing prayers more than I speak them. Also, the more you get accustomed to the Holy Spirit’s voice in your personal life, the more likely you will hear Him as you lead worship. Listen as your praying at home, at the grocery store, walking through the mall, in a restaurant. Always tune your antennae.
  • Practice in a small group – after you practice by yourself, find a small group and practice there. There’s less at stake if you mess up by yourself or in a small group of trusted friends.
  • Just say it – sometimes all you need to do is just step out. Just say what you feel God is saying. Just lead where you feel God is leading. Don’t cue up the shofar lady and shout ‘thus saith the Lord Christ Almighty’. Just be yourself. Gently say and lead where God is moving and wait. This can lead to breakthrough in worship.

Worship Leaders: did I cover everything here? What would you add to the list?


November 4, 2010 - Posted by | Worship, Worship Leaders


  1. […] know I offer a lot of tips on this blog. How to flow in the spontaneous and some qualities of a great worship leader and even how to lead a great rehearsal. These are […]

    Pingback by The Pitfalls of “Professional” Worship Leaders « david santistevan | November 5, 2010 | Reply

  2. […] I like to strike a healthy balance between personal arrangements, recorded arrangements, and the spontaneous. […]

    Pingback by How Close Should Sunday Morning Worship Reflect the Recordings? « david santistevan | December 15, 2010 | Reply

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