3 Truths on How to Place Your Singers on Stage

As a worship leader and planner I have often struggled with placing my vocalists. Juggling singers’ egos with stage layout concerns can be an interesting experience.

The question I received at the beginning of rehearsal that night was predictable and expected: “Why are we standing back here instead of out front? I’m a worship leader just like you.”

Ever hear that question before?

I prefer to use different stage setups from week to week to keep things a little fresh, but musicians – especially singers – can really struggle with that kind of change.

The perception is that stage placement denotes value, but the drummer is in the back every week and he is not worried.

The singer will most likely also bemoan the loss of a close connection with the audience because they are further apart. So is the bass player usually, but singers will say that the difference has to do with communicating lyrics.

Here’s the truth of the matter:

1. The primary connection with the congregation comes from the main worship leader. Other connections are secondary.

2. Too many people up front can obscure the leader, making it hard for the congregation to know who to follow.

3. Most importantly, behind all of the Christian jargon stage placement is a matter of ego and the heart. John modeled a right attitude when he said of Christ, “He must become greater, and I must become less.”

Musicians – singers especially – need to check their motives before complaining about where they are standing on stage.

Of course, worship leaders should ask the same question of themselves as they plan. Worship is about Christ, not our ego.

How have you dealt with staging your vocalists?

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2 thoughts on “3 Truths on How to Place Your Singers on Stage

  1. Interesting discussion – As a worship leader I often struggle with the notion of attention being focused on me instead of HIM!!! I’ve considered moving the entire band to an off stage location, perhaps behind the congregation to allow the worshipers to focus on the lyrics they are singing – not what the singers are wearing or which guitar i’m playing this week. I know that sounds drastic, but aren’t we supposed to be leading worship – that means directing forcus on God, not us.

    I’ve been a lead singer and lead guitar player on some pretty big stages, and when in front of a crowd (not a congregation) I can command the attention of a featured performer – but in the setting of worship I cannot even bring myself to do an instrumental solo – I feel VERY uncomfortable drawing attention to myself when it’s God’s time to be glorified. I always end preservice rehearsal with a prayer with the band – and I always pray that we lead to glorify Him, not ourselves!

    • Good thoughts. It probably would be a good exercise to be that drastic. The only church I know that has done that is Matt Redman’s church, leading to the Heart of Worship.

      Sort of like worship shock therapy!

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