I love leading the church in worship. It’s the greatest passion of my life, and brings me the most joy in what I do for a living.

However, lately I feel like I’m becoming more and more of a cover band singer, instead of a worship leader.

I remember when we—the band & vocals (a.k.a. the worship team)—used to use a recording of a new song as a basis for what we were going to do with it. We’d work together, come up with our own arrangements, intros, solos, outros, etc. We made the song “our own.”

Now days, it seems like we just do our best to make ourselves sound like the recording, instead of doing our best to make ourselves sound like….ourselves.

We are not Hillsong United.

I am not Chris Tomlin.

I am, John Forbis.

We are (where I currently serve) CrossRoads Nazarene.

I wonder how I can get back to being a worship leader instead of a cover band singer?

I wonder if it’s better that way?

– — — —- —– —— ——-

SIDE NOTE #1: I am in NO WAY saying through this blog post that being a cover band singer is a bad thing, or that it’s wrong. I’m just posing the question, more for myself than for anyone else, if it’s right for ME, for who I AM, for who God wants ME to be?

SIDE NOTE #2: I totally stole the idea for this blog from a thought Carlos Whittaker had on his blog. So go ahead…sue me! (Well, not you Carlos…)


3 thoughts on “worship.leader.or.cover.band.singer?

  1. Devin

    Great question…I know that I have run into the same question myself.

    In my experience, it’s good to start with the original arrangement and play the role of “cover band singer” for the first few times we go through the song, or until the group we are leading is comfortable/getting bored with the song. Then I think it’s good to roll in some arrangement changes, even if they aren’t permanent every time you lead the song.

    Something that I’ve been doing a lot of recently is starting songs with the chorus or bridge, similar to what 10,000 Reasons does in the recording. I don’t plan to always do that, but if it fits the set and the transitions within the service better than just running start to finish with each song, then I go for it. I actually think that when leaders change up the arrangement of a song it causes those who may have become a little “too familiar” (read: going through the motions) to re-examine the lyrics and heart of the song that may have become stale. I believe that’s part of our responsibility as worship leaders/pastors, to ignite, and re-ignite, the church for the heart of God.

    Praying blessings over your ministry man! Appreciate your insights…and of course those of Mr. Whittaker ;^)

  2. Jerry Valentine

    I agree with Devin
    You should play it just like a cover until you feel you can “make it your own” by adding the band’s unique interpretation either lyrically or instrumentally. I will add that I am not in a worship band; however, I do practice and play covers never intending to duplicate the originals 100 percent. Then I will work on creatively changing songs through trial and error and look for feedback from others and my own personal critiques. Then if I cannot “feel it”, I will have no problem executing those songs if requested or needed but I guarantee they will never be my “option one”.

  3. Kevin Daniel

    Boy, could I ever relate. I think one of my most troubling memories of leading/playing worship are when we ever favored pop covers over original compositions or arrangements. I think this issue differs from church to church, but it seems valid to say that every artist struggles with the issue of feeling stifled from time to time.


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