There is a difference in singing a song and ministering a song. For some that is an innate awareness of the connection that’s made between heaven and earth when they operate in their musical gifting; for others it is something acquired through experience. Singing is an art form—no doubt about it—but I think we could agree that the goal of singing a solo in church is probably not the same as singing on American Idol as the context and usually the content are different. However, singing is communication and to communicate a solo in church effectively requires several key elements that will help you to minister a song rather than just sing one.
- Know the Role
A special song or solo within a worship service gives the congregation a chance to receive rather than give, musically speaking. To follow the pastor’s message, a time of prayer, or communion with a song that enhances, expands, or reinforces what was just said or done in the service allows the Holy Spirit to massage that truth deeper into the hearts of the congregation.
- Use All the Senses
We live in a time when we can create to our hearts content—endless possibilities abound. Why not include special lighting, video, or dramatic elements during the solo that drive home the point of the song or make it more personal? People will appreciate the time and effort put into the quality and presentation of what you are offering and it keeps things exciting and unpredictable.
- Practice Your Body Language
Not everyone is comfortable standing in front of a crowd singing a song by themselves, so find fixed points in the room just above peoples heads that you can look at while you are singing, and people in that direction will think you are looking right at them. This is not to promote a false impression, just a preliminary step until you are comfortable looking directly at people you are ministering to in order to connect more deeply with them. It may feel funny at first, but trust me, it helps to drive home the point of what you are saying. Generally, don’t sing with your eyes closed. And be expressive with gentle gestures with your hands or arms and move around a bit while you’re singing. Don’t be afraid to feel the song you’re singing.
- Pick a Song That Fits You
Pick a song that you can “own”—a song that your own spirit says, “Amen” to. Use a song that works within the context of what’s happening in that part of the worship service. Sing it in a comfortable key, and memorize it. It should feel like a pair of worn shoes. Don’t throw something together. You need to plan, connect prayerfully with the music, practise, execute. It will show either way.
- Singing the Word Over People
Colossians 3:16 reminds us that one of the ways the Word of Christ dwells in us is through singing to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. There is something so powerful about hearing God’s Word and promises sung over us. When you have the opportunity to sing lyrics that include direct quotes or even paraphrases from Scripture, it has a huge impact on the hearts of those listening and breathing in eternal words—timeless truths—that will never fade away. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, even if it’s sung.
- Who’s The Audience?
The privilege of leading worship is a God-given platform, not a stage. Thus we must keep in mind that the opportunity to sing a song is a platform for ministry—ministry to God and ministry to people. Although our congregational singing is for an audience of One, not so these solo numbers. Like a preacher, or an evangelist, you are ministering a message under the anointing of the Holy Spirit that he will take and orchestrate into the flow of the entire service. You are afforded the honor of singing life into death, hope into despair, peace into a troubled heart. You may be the conduit, but his is the current.
As important as all the practical steps (and awareness) are, remember the more you understand and internalize the song in reflection, study, prayer, practice, the easier it will be to let go and have all the work become incarnate in a living breathing experience for you and your audience. As the Lord’s heart is warmed by hearing your voice singing his truth, I have to believe he is filled with joy when he sees the impact that your ministry is having upon a people who have gathered for a moment amidst the business of their lives, where time almost stands still as they hear God’s comfort coming to them through an earthen vessel.
David M. Edwards is an award-winning songwriter, author, and speaker. For more information, visit davidmedwards.com.