Not every pastor has the luxury of a full worship band or an ear for music. Let’s face it—some of us can’t carry a tune in a bucket. My wife has many gifts and talents for ministry, but she’s the first to admit that music is not one of them. She’s not alone—this is the case for many pastors in small corps. And that’s OK. We don’t all need to have the gift of music. Scripture points out that we are all given different gifts (see Ephesians 4:11; 1 Peter 4:10-11).

Music in worship can be beneficial to the body of Christ, but it should be viewed as a conduit to worship, not the end result. Here are 10 tools and ideas that can help those who are not musically gifted lead worship on Sunday.

1. YouTube

There’s a plethora of Christian worship music on YouTube. If your place of worship doesn’t have access to wifi, you can use a YouTube Downloader to convert YouTube videos to a different format, such as MP3.

Don’t neglect the power of videos (which could include worship songs, movie clips or sermon illustrations) in your Sunday services. Be creative and intentional in the planning of your service theme, too. Caution: This will take time, so don’t just throw everything together on Saturday night and expect amazing results. We are all busy people, but not taking the time to find the appropriate videos and/or music is noticeable in our services.

2. iSing Worship (App)

If you have an iPad or iPhone, this app is a tremendous tool. The app is free, but the songs cost about $3, which is only a dollar more than what you would pay on iTunes or Google Music. When you buy a song, you have access to different elements of the song (i.e. lead vocals, guitar, drums, etc.). For instance, if you wanted to lead the song, you could turn the vocals down and sing with the music.

iSing Worship is a worship band in a box—just hit play. The nice thing about iSing Worship is that once you select the songs, the lyrics come up on the display so that the congregation can sing along.

3. Recruit and Delegate

One of the challenges for many pastors—whether they are musically inclined or not—is letting other people help. Shared leadership leads to a better all-around worship service.

If you’re like me—a control freak who wants to make sure everything goes according to plan—then you need to learn to trust the Holy Spirit, as well as other people. When we share the worship experience with other people, we share ownership.

Intentionally select, recruit and delegate people to these tasks. Find people who have potential as future leaders. It’s OK to fail or have rough worship experiences with these individuals—that’s a part of the learning and discipling challenge.

4. Get Your Youth Involved

The Apostle Paul told Timothy not to let others look down on him because he was young (see 1 Timothy 4:12). The same can be said about young people in our churches. Use your young people. Don’t discount their willingness and ability to lead. Teach and disciple them as future leaders by investing in them now. Have them help by reading a prayer or Scripture verse, performing a skit or even leading a song. Some of your young people might be more musically gifted than you are—so cultivate that gift and use it in your worship service.

Don’t let older people in your congregation overly criticize your young people. We want to encourage their growth as future leaders. Unfortunately, most churches have the old grouches who grumble at anything new. Don’t tolerate that behaviour from any member of your congregation. We need to disciple our youth, and this is a great way to begin.

5. Set the Stage

Pay attention to your church décor/stage design. Don’t neglect the aesthetics of your worship space. Take into account the season and sermon topic, and try to engage as many senses as possible—sight, sound, smell. Put up artwork or banners—there are lots of ideas on Pinterest to help you tap into your creative side. Build a set out of Styrofoam and paint it. Use lighting effectively. Play worship music over speakers at the beginning of the service. Use scented candles (but don’t let it become overpowering). This video from Pro Church Tools has lots of great ideas for small churches.

A church service is not a concert or performance, but there is something to be said for being intentional with our space, to introduce people to a living, moving God.

6. Worship Band in Hand (App) 

Songs on this app also cost money, but it comes with a lot of features. You get one free song included upon installation of the app, so you can try it out.

7. AutoPad (App) 

This tool lets you play ambient pad loops. Try using it during your sermon to deepen the worship experience. You might need someone else to operate the app while you preach or read Scripture.

8. Try Messy Church

If you want a break from routine, try something different. Some churches have started to experiment with dinner church or messy church. Messy church can be a great way to reduce your music phobia by setting up stations with different activities. Here’s a link.

9. Conduct a Quaker Service

A Quaker service uses poetry, prayer and silence instead of music. This might be just the thing your corps needs to encourage everyone to dig a little more deeply into their hearts and minds. Here’s a link.

10. Prayer Stations/Artistic Approach

Conduct a service with prayer stations. This approach takes the focus off music. You could play worship music quietly in the background through your sound system, and encourage everyone to spend the service at the prayer stations set up in the sanctuary. Here are some ideas:  

Prayer Loom

Thy Kingdom Come

Scrabble Pieces

More Ideas

These 10 suggestions will help the non-musical and musical pastor alike create a deeper, more meaningful worship service. It’s not an exhaustive list—just a primer to help you discover and develop new ways of approaching worship. What do you do in your corps? Share what you find helpful in the comments below.

Captain Scott Strissel is the divisional youth secretary and divisional candidates’ secretary in the Midland Division, U.S.A. Central Territory. He is an active blogger and contributor for the purpose of encouraging and challenging the Salvation Army world. Read his blog at

Photo: © bowie14/


On Tuesday, March 26, 2019, Scott Strissel said:

As a caveat to the YouTube conversation, I did neglect to say that one must be careful what content one attempts on download. Most territories have CCLI licenses as well as CVLI licenses. For movie clips check out sites like Screenvue and other such ministry sites that hold their own CVLI license which covers the user. Hope that helps.


On Tuesday, March 26, 2019, Todd said:

All very helpful suggestions thank you! For Youtube videos and downloading, do you have any advice on copyright issues on what is ok to download and play in a meeting?


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