Stage Presence – Part 1
Is it Charisma or Confidence?
Frequently, I am requested to teach about stage presence. Stage presence is generally thought of as an individual’s personality or appearance that attracts the audience and keeps them engaged throughout a performance. Have you ever been to an event where the performance was technically correct, but the presentation was very dry? It did not capture your attention or engage you or anyone else. Even though a performance may be technically correct, it may not necessarily contain the spark of life which captives the interest of the listener. I understand the interest in this topic. Let’s face it, we want people to listen to us and feel that their time is well invested.
Let’s talk about charisma. To the Christian, charisma means a God given gift or talent.
When used correctly, it aligns with the Bible and glorifies God. It causes the listener to draw closer to God.
In the secular world, charisma seeks to glorify the performer. It inspires an allegiance to the person instead of God. Politicians, great orators and even musicians can be very charismatic and find much worldly success.
Charisma can be either positive or negative, depending on the purpose of the presenter.
It can be wielded like a sword, slicing through truth. It can persuade those who are present to yield to the opinions of others. It can be used as an instrument of hope or a weapon of manipulation. Charisma attracts people. Worldly charisma is very limited. It is fickle. It can change with the next wind. It does not have a firm foundation. It is based on man and not on God. Anything based on man, though it may appear successful for a season, will not endure.
As Christians who love and serve God with our whole hearts, we know that we need the ability to effectively communicate our faith with others. We want people to listen. Let’s learn from the Master Presenter. I was impressed with the way Jesus was received by the people in the Sermon on the Mount. “And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at His doctrine: for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes (Matthew 7:28-29). Jesus did not speak as one who was merely reading the Scriptures. He taught them as ”one having authority.” When Jesus is Lord of our lives, then our lives should line up with the Word. When we come under the authority of the Word, then we have that same authority, the authority of Jesus.
We are to be like Jesus. We are to minister in confidence, but not in confidence of our own
abilities. This is from the philosophy of Humanism. We are to minister in confidence of God, confident that God is fulfilling His Word as we minister through music. We can be confident that His Word will “not return void,” but accomplish the will of the Father. (Isaiah 55:11)
Where does confidence actually come from? It comes from experience. To effectively tell
someone that Jesus died for their sins, I must know Him as Savior. To encourage trust in the Author of all truth and wisdom, I must know Him as Lord. I must be seeking His will for my own life. As I experience God’s faithfulness, it will be obvious when I confidently minister to others. He is my Healer and my Counselor. He is the Prince of my Peace. He is my Provider. He is the great I Am. He is all that I need. He is all that you need. He is all that your listeners need.
Be honest, does fear seem to grip you as you stand before the congregation? Take courage. Know that courage is not the absence of fear, but taking positive action in the face of fear. You are more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:37) We are the sons and daughters of God. We have the Word and the instruction to use it. Are we to “come boldly unto the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16), before Almighty God, and yet, meekly minister before the people? We are to minister through music in confidence because our confidence is in God, not in ourselves or in stage presence. Our confidence is in God, the power in His Word, and the calling He has placed upon our lives.
We are to go in and possess the land in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the physical realm, Joshua was commissioned by God: “Every place the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that I have given unto you (Joshua 1:3). Today, we still seek to see God’s Kingdom expanded. We are commissioned to possess the land to see souls come to Christ. How can this truth be applied to music ministry? When your confidence is in God, and you are bringing forth His Word in song, . . . where your voice touches, people are saved. Healing and deliverance take place. We are possessing the land. We are taking authority over the works of Satan and tearing down his strongholds. We are claiming souls for the Kingdom of God. We are seeing God’s will in action. We are possessing the land!
Are you confident in His ability to minister through you, or are you relying on your own charisma, talents and abilities to ensure a nice music presentation? God desires that your confidence be in Him. Trusting Him to fulfill His Word, we see works that will endure for all eternity. Our confidence is rightly placed in God because He is faithful. Trust Him. Minister in confidence, knowing that God’s anointing is breaking the yoke of sin in many lives (Isaiah 10:27).
Some will call it stage presence, but that is truly insufficient for the Christian. We minister in confidence, because our confidence is in Almighty God! Hallelujah!
Music Ministry – Stage Presence, Part 2
In the Old Testament, David called for the skilled musicians to be involved in music ministry. Yes, God will accept a joyful noise as praise unto Him, but He is also the God of excellence. He will change you from glory to glory in every area of your life, if you will submit these areas to Him. The following are a few of the topics I address in the Music Ministry Book and Seminar. You may not agree with me on every point. I suggest you pray and ask God for His direction. Our purpose is to please God.
Be sure to check out the Music Ministry Checklist that is located on this website for additional insights. I pray that the following will help you as you minister through music.
Nervousness, . . . It’s Only Natural
Until the age of twenty-five, every time I stood before the congregation to sing, my whole body would flex in waves of nervous terror. Sure, I wanted to sing for God. I was there because I wanted to be, but my physical nervous response was uncontrollable. The choir, who stood behind me, would comment after the service on just how wild my legs looked as I stood before them and vibrated. The congregation,thankfully, had no idea of my predicament, since I conveniently stood behind that large, old pulpit.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? If you have stood where I stood, you know how uncomfortable that experience is. Many folks will tell you, “Don’t worry, this is natural. After all, you are getting up in front of all those people to sing.” I have good news for you. “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7). We are in this world, but we are not of it (John 17:16). Those things that are natural to this world are no longer natural to us. We are a new creation in Christ Jesus.
For me, I was delivered from nervousness during the ministry of one single song. No, the title of the song does not make any difference. The difference was made when I got my spiritual eyes off the people, and I put them on God. In my heart, I determined that I would consciously sing that song as pure praise unto the Lord. As I began to minister, the nervousness was no longer present. The fear was gone. This will work for you, too. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear” (1John 4:18). It is through an attitude of praise and love that fear cannot exist.
Which Song Shall I Sing?
Pray and ask God. He will provide the song that will minister to the people in your
congregation. If you haven’t done so already, this would be a great time to check out the Music Ministry Checklist. In the Preparation Section, there is information about prayer.
Get the Facts:
Find out what the song means. Use the Bible to study any specific scripture differences. When you know how the song relates to God’s Word and to your life, you will be better able to minister from the heart.
Select music in your voice range. No one is blessed when the singer has to strain to sing the notes. Learn to be satisfied with the voice range you have and use it to its fullest potential.
Sing the words like you speak them, but of course, clearly pronounce them. What good does it do if you can sing all the notes, but others cannot understand the words? After all, it is the words that are important. You can get nice music anywhere.
Do you like to rest the microphone on your chin? When you do this, you lose the movement of your jaw. It will be difficult to pronounce the words clearly, if you restrict your jaw's ability to move.
Preparing a New Song:
When I begin a new song, I learn the words and melody and then set the the written score aside. It is very difficult to minister to others, if you have to keep your face in the book. Learn the song and get it deep in your heart. Now, you have reached the absolute minimum of preparation. As you continue to practice, sing as if you are singing right to God - because you are. It is a joy to minister to the One who has done so much for us. Try it today and expect a positive change in your ability to minister through music.
Do not be afraid of the microphone. Learn to use it. Sing directly into the microphone, holding it in a horizontal fashion. Some people prefer to leave the microphone on a stand. This is OK, but by holding the microphone, you can adjust its proximity to your mouth. Holding the microphone can increase clarity and improve the quality of your voice. Isn’t this too worldly? Check your motives. If you try to look like a rock star, then it is too worldly. If you want to bless the people and make it easy for them to understand what you are singing, then learn to work with the microphone as your friend. What will happen if you just hold the microphone in one position, never moving it according to the volume needed for the song? Sometimes, your singing will be too soft. Other times, you will be too loud. It is better to hold the microphone and develop skill. If you are singing softly, move the microphone closer to your mouth. If you are singing loudly, move the microphone away from your mouth. The key to doing this just right is to listen while you are singing. You should be able to hear both yourself and the music, comfortably balanced. Work with your sound technician during your sound check to ensure a good sound.
If you sing with a group or ensemble, everyone does not get equal microphone volume. The lead singer should be the loudest. This maintains the integrity of the song. In my group, harmony volumes decrease in this order: lead, alto, low tenor, high tenor. Why? The low parts tend to project more easily. The very high part will overtake the melody line if the volume is not reduced. All parts are important. All parts need to be heard. The singer and the sound tech must cooperatively work together, if the sound is to be balanced. (Always remember that the position of sound technician is also a ministry. Listen to your sound tech, politely tell them what you need or would like, encourage them, let them know that you appreciate them, and pray for them. We work together to glorify God.)
If you find yourself easily getting hoarse, you are working too hard. Sing softer, and let the microphone do the work. The sound tech will increase your volume, if it is needed. Once again, listening is the key. Harmony must be in balance and not overtake the lead singer.
While I am on the topic of volume, in many churches today, the volume is extremely loud. (Please do not stop reading now.) As Christians who minister through music, we must ask ourselves: Is the exuberant response we are getting because the music is loud? Whether the music is loud or soft, we must not be satisfied with a simple physical response to a spiritual need. God has not called us to be entertainers. God has called us to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). The word truth is clarified in the Amplified Bible as the reality of our lives, as seen in our daily living. The response God is looking for is worship that leads to and supports lives being saved, changed, and a passion for serving God in our everyday lives.
Now, let me put on my school teacher and mom hats for you and make another point or two. At school, we teach our children that loud music will impair their hearing. This is a fact. This fact does not change just because we have entered the church building. The hearing that is lost when listening to loud music starts in the high sounds/registers and proceeds down into the lower sounds/registers. It may not be detected until much hearing has been lost. This type of hearing loss cannot be helped or restored by a hearing aide. Why should we protect our hearing? I am glad you asked that question.
* As Christians, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. God does not want us to purposefully harm our bodies - bodies that were created in His image. I see two areas of responsibility here: the listener and the ones who determine the level of the volume.
* You will need your hearing all of your life to be able to communicate with family members and friends, hold a job and to minister to others.
* The music you so dearly love, may become a distant memory if you listen to a lot of loud music.
I believe in balance - not too loud and not too soft. Take care of all of the gifts and blessings God has given you. Balance the volume, and in the long run, you will be glad that you did.
Look Them in the Eye:
Remember when you were a kid in school and you got up to speak in a program? After looking everywhere else, except the audience, your teacher finally told you to fix your eyes on something at the rear of the auditorium. Remember? In this world, you value someone who will look you straight in the eye and tell you the truth. Today, the only truth is Jesus Christ. Do not look at the rear of the sanctuary or auditorium. Instead, look them straight in the eye and tell them how much Jesus loves them. Now, this is truth!
Do Not Look Them in the Eye:
Do not look the people in the eye when the song is directed to God. When the words speak specifically to the Father or to Jesus, either look up, slightly, or close your eyes. You do not appear sincere when you sing to God, but look at man.
Develop a private praise and worship life with God, and it will be easy to be enthusiastic about praise and worship in the church. Let your enthusiasm for Jesus show. Get excited about Jesus in private and in the church, and you will be able to get excited about Him when you are out in the world.
Be sure to share this information with others who minister through music. We are in this together. Thanks, Mary
Resources: Don’t Just Sing, Minister Through Music (Book and Seminar),
Dr. Mary L. Willock
© Mary Willock, 2014 - 2020
You have permission to print copies of this article for use in your personal or church related ministry
You have permission to print copies of this article for use in your personal or church related ministry