I have hungered for Worship Leading tips from Hillsong!
As a worship leader and a worship team leader – I have always looked forward to learning worship leading tips from Hillsong! I make time to search for their worship services and study how they do and lead worship. Reading their blogs is one thing I enjoy doing. I wanted to attend any Hillsong event since I became a Christian 8 years ago – so being able to attend their concert this year, knowing that I’m from a far city in the southern Philippines, was something I thank God for every single day! I know this is a very rare moment, so I made sure I get to learn everything I could get from the concert and somehow take that to how we worship in our local church in Zamboanga City.
I’d like to establish first that these tips did not come from Hillsong directly. These tips are things I learned about worship leading during my experience at Hillsong concert in the Philippines.
10 worship leading tips from Hillsong concert in the Philippines
1. Pray for the worshipers
After singing a few upbeat songs, Hillsong YNF worship leader (I’m not sure if it was Laura Toggs) shared that while they were at the backstage, they intensely prayed for us all to find freedom and experience the fullness of God’s presence. It was heartwarming to know that Hillsong was so passionate to lead us into an empowering encounter with God more than having excellent worship session. I know that all worship teams must know this but if we’re going to be honest, there are times that we pray more to be able to serve excellently but sometimes put the experience of people to be found by God a secondary concern.
2. Build a connection with the worshipers
I have observed many moments when the worship leaders like Aodhan, Taya, Joel, and JD would “talk” to the congregation. I mean, they don’t only exhort us to worship but they would truly take time to talk to us like we’ve met before. Like when Aodhan King was about to sing “Sinking Deep” he told us that he loved the Philippines and the tour here was so special that he brought his mother and aunt with him. He also told us to never ever underestimate the power of prayer because he too was a product of his aunt’s prayer.
I thought it was a big no to like talk to the congregation. So I learned that it was a good move to engage with the worshipers! Building a relationship with the crowd actually adds spice to the worship experience – it’s like 2 friends having fun in God’s presence.
3. Enjoy the presence of God / 4. Model freedom and authenticity in worship / 5. Show the joy in worship
(Items 3-5 have common explanations but it’s important to delineate the learnings into 3 points hehe.)
Have you ever watched Hillsong concert even online? You’d see how they’d freely jump, play, and enjoy worship while on stage! I must admit 10% of the time I was starstruck haha 🙂 well, I bought that patron standing ticket so imagine JD, Taya, Laura, Joel, and Aodhan just in front of you! But what I admired the most was when Taya would do her crazy dance moves or the girls would play around with one another – jumping, running, dancing, and throwing some confetti on one another – it was so fun to look at! They made it look like God’s presence was a place of freedom, fun, and authenticity. Whether you’ve messed up right before going to the worship service or whether you have stopped worshipping God for a long time, their worship encouraged us all to take hold of God and enjoy His presence right at that moment!
As worship leaders, nothing can ever enthuse the congregation to worship in a liberating way than modeling it to them on stage. This is what I learned the most at the concert actually. Seeing the 2 bands freely praising God in their youth gave me the energy to jump and shout down below. When I go back to our city church, I’d make sure I have practiced enough dance moves to the church can groove in worship hehe.
6. Love your band
They were unashamed to show their affection to one another on stage! They hugged each other, danced with one another, they were like children having fun together before their Father! I also noticed a time when Jihea Oh (she became my favorite!!!) nodded at one of the guitarists when he was trying to adjust his sounds during worship. There were also times when this singer of YNF would have to remove / wear back his guitar (some parts he played the guitar, some parts he only sang – I don’t know the singer’s name) and one person from the production would go up to him and carry / return the guitar. The singer never failed to thank this person from production! Also, I attended the 3rd night of the concert which happened to be their drummer’s birthday and we all sang a happy birthday to him.
Sometimes, I must admit that we get so busy preparing for a worship service that we forget to enjoy one another’s presence. We get caught up with the responsibility of serving others that we neglect to appreciate our teammate with a simple smile or tap on the shoulder. Their relationship was so inspiring and I found myself wanting that for my own team back home.
7. Exhort by quoting empowering scriptures, thru prayer, and one-liner truths
Their exhortations were actually so simple yet so empowering! They said it in a way that was so natural and real. Some part they quoted scriptures on how God was looking at each of us in a very special way since before we were created. On another, we were told how God has a plan and hope for us. There was also a time when they just prayed for us in between songs.
I was able to video their exhortations (one of the things I looked forward to). Let me share it with you once I’m done with the editing 🙂
8. Be creative in song transitions
I was so utterly amazed at how they creatively worked with the transition! Sometimes they end the song then all lights would be turned off and sounds would decrescendo and then start to the next song. They would also engage/exhort or pray in between songs (I thought the song was done) but then after intensifying the moment with their powerful words, they’d go back into singing the Bridge part like how Taya Smith did in What a Beautiful name.
I also loved how they mashed up One Way, Take it all, and Go! From Go’s “ole, ole, ole” they transitioned to “Jesus we’re living for your name” of Take it all. After chorus, they chorus sang “Go” again, and they sang only one part of One Way’s chorus “One Way Jesus You’re the only One that I could live for” and then started the song from the first verse. (Yes, i’ve memorized the transition! hehe)
In the Philippines, we’re used to using the Prelude – Upbeat – Exhortation – Slow transition. To be honest, we’re actually getting fed up with this. Things are getting so predictable in worship that people lose the “awe” and “excitement”. We are challenged to be more creative and artistic in leading worship so people would fully express themselves before God.
9. Let the congregation sing
Oh, I would also not forget how they slowly played the instrumentals of The Stand, when the keyboard started to slowly key the tune, people started singing the chorus even without the lead singers singing. I think 30% of the time, lead singers let the congregation sing on our own. This is my personal favorite part of every worship service: when the church is able to sing without the worship team. 🙂
10. Always give the spotlight to Jesus
Being the best that Hillsong can be, it was truly inspiring and humbling to always hear them giving to Jesus the spotlight. More than the fun and joy they exhibit on stage, you would always see them pointing above or shouting words like “give Jesus the praise”. Also, there was a time when JD led those who have not yet become a Christian to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. He said that it was the very point of the gathering.
So that’s it! My 10 worship leading tips from Hillsong concert here in the Philippines last June 16, 2018 (3rd night). I have my own worship leading tip based on experience. Read them here: Angelittle’s Worship Leading Tips