Worship leader, are nerves getting the best of you?

As Sunday arrives, the weight of leading worship seems to increase by the second and a legion of self-doubt prompts all the self-talk:

“What if I fail?”

“What if I’m not enough?”

“What if I forget the words?”

“What if the tech fails?”

“What if the band has a complete trainwreck?”

“What if I sing the wrong melody and muddle up the words?”

“What if the worship just doesn’t connect with people today?”

“What if my pastor hates it?”

“What if I receive a stack of nasty comment cards?”

Standing on the platform, your mind is spinning and your heart begins to pump at a rate that alerts your whole body to your painstakingly obvious lack of calm. The invisible sweat beads forming on your hands quickly erode the confident use of your instrument that you felt when you were simply worshipping alone in your bedroom.

It was in that safe place that you envisioned the congregation now standing in front of you lifting their voices in heart-felt, thunderous praise.

Now that vision is a blur, and the confidence you felt is a distant memory.

You have every intention to divert the attention placed on you and the worship team to the only One who is truly deserving of it. But your nerves have taken over, and are drawing more attention to the stage.

So you shut your eyes in a death grip. You're hoping that when you peel your eyes open the inevitable trainwreck you’ve just rehearsed in your mind will have passed, and you'll be able to return to a more comfortable place off stage.

Yet it is there that you begin to wonder…

“Am I really made for this?”

“Do I have what it takes?”

Now I know this is a pretty dire picture, but I’ve been there. And I know that even if you project yourself with confidence, and present comfortably on the platform, you still have those haunting areas where you know you lack confidence.

Praying to kick off a worship live stream as part of a collective of worship leaders in North Idaho.

"being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

I want to help you

You see, us worship leaders are like hamsters…

Yes, hamsters!

We often find ourselves realizing that we are in an endless cycle…

Sunday is here.

Sunday is coming…

Sunday is here.

Sunday is coming…

And on and on the cycle goes…

Have you ever felt this way?

I know I have. If we don’t have the right mindsets and sustainable practices to help us confidently prepare for each Sunday, we'll soon find ourselves taken out. We'll be another statistic, another casualty who lasted for a season, but not for the long-haul.

I want to help you be a worship leader who is in it for the long-game, one who leads with confidence, walks in your calling, and ultimately leaves your mark.

In fact, I have something that I believe will help you right now, wherever you are in your worship leading journey.

I want to give you a free guide that will teach you 6 practices you can implement this week so that you can lead worship with greater confidence this Sunday.

These 6 practices are things that I have had to learn the hard way. I wish I would have grasped them a lot earlier on in my worship leading journey.

Baptism By Fire

Let me tell you a bit about my worship leading journey.

I was asked to lead worship for the first time at 21 years of age. It was for a small bible study that was connected to a student ministry at San Diego State University, where I was studying to be a music educator.

As a music major, I knew a bit about music, but I knew nothing about leading worship.

The days when I had hair

As a wandering college student trying to figure out my identity I began to sense a call to ministry in my life, and I ended up transferring to a small Christian college.

One of my teachers became a mentor figure to me and heard me sing for the first time as he officiated my wedding. My mentor was going out to plant a church, and during the ceremony, the Lord revealed to him that I was going to be his worship leader.

There was one problem…

The Lord didn’t reveal that to me, and my mentor didn’t tell me this right away.

So young and in love, my wife and I ventured out to rural North Idaho as newlyweds to be a part of a team of church planters.

Arriving in Bonners Ferry, Idaho

I had no idea what I was doing leading worship besides singing songs and I was keenly aware that there was A LOT that I needed to learn.

I also thought I would have the luxury of time. With Bonners Ferry, Idaho being a small town, we anticipated that it would take about 2 years for the church to grow to a max of around 250 people.

Well, we learned not to put a cap on God.

At our first service, I was shocked to find myself standing in front of a microphone, holding a guitar I had been given, and looking out at a crowd of 200 people gathered to worship. It was a far cry from my college ministry days.

My start as a worship leader was one of baptism by fire.

I’ll reiterate. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing besides singing songs in front of a bunch of people gathered to worship. Those people sang a little louder to the few hymns they knew and they looked confused when we interlaced those hymns with songs that they had never heard before.

On top of this, I had no idea how to lead a team. I was clueless when it came to all the different facets of worship ministry like scheduling and chord charts and the host of other hats you have to wear as a worship leader.

Painfully low-tech, but you gotta start somewhere!

So over the years, I gleaned whatever I could by reading books and articles. I attended conferences and engaged in conversations with other worship pastors. I am thankful for these various resources, as they have helped tremendously.

But I have found that there is simply no substitute for a good mentor.

Someone that has walked the road ahead.

Someone who can help you navigate the journey and point out vital areas of growth in your ministry.

Someone who can celebrate the victories with you!

More Than You Can Ask Or Even Imagine

This is why I started this site, Influential Worship. I certainly have not “arrived” in my worship leading journey, but I’ve learned a lot along the way, and I have had some incredible mentors invest in me.

I believe good leaders are always learning, and I simply want to help other worship leaders by passing on what I have learned.

I have grown tremendously as I have served alongside amazing teams of people for the past 11 years.

God always does immeasurably more than all we can ask or even imagine, especially when it brings Him much glory (see Ephesians 3:20-21).

Answering the call to ministry has led to so many God-given opportunities and so many monumental things have taken place in my life while I have been living in Idaho. At the 2nd anniversary celebration of Mountain Springs Church, Brenton Brown and his band, The Worship Republic, came to lead worship for our service.

I crossed paths with Brenton’s bass player, Daniel Ornellas, who is also a member of the powerhouse worship trio, Tree63. Daniel recognized a passion and talent in me to serve the church as a songwriter and produced my first EP, “Seen & Heard,” in November of 2012.

With Cara Fox (Gungor, One Sonic Society) & Daniel Ornellas (The Worship Republic, Tree63) recording at Farmland Studios in Nashville

A review of my EP in Worship Leader Magazine

I continued to faithfully serve my local church and was ordained and then appointed as an elder which was a whole new season of learning in my growth as a leader.

Wanting to continue to grow specifically in my worship leading, I enrolled in 10,000 Fathers Worship School. After graduating in 2017 I had the privilege of co-writing and recording a song called “Hunger and Thirst” with Aaron Keyes and the 10,000 Fathers community.

I have recently released a few singles through a worship community in the U.K. called Homegrown Worship.

I am currently living in Post Falls, Idaho with my beautiful family, serving Jesus amongst the body of believers at Real Life Ministries. As I mentioned earlier, I believe good leaders are learners, so I’m pursuing my master’s degree in worship through Northern Seminary.

A little more confident than I was when I first started leading

Being silly with my family

Helping You Navigate The Journey

I’m looking forward to helping you take steps to grow and develop in your journey as a worship leader. I believe that you too can lead with confidence, live out your calling, and leave your mark.

I would love to connect with you, and I hope you will take advantage of receiving the free guide that will teach you 6 practices you can implement this week so that you can lead worship with greater confidence this Sunday.

Your mentor and coach,

Jeremy Ellis

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