Small Group Worship without a Guitar

by Daniel Nathan

Your small group can still have an intimate and powerful worship experience without having a trained musician in your group. Worship is always God-ward. Worshipping requires we orient our hearts and minds toward God. Worship involves expressing to Him our love and adoration by engaging our full humanity – emotionally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually. With this understanding of worship, we can imagine our worship of God to include activities beyond just songs led by a guitar or piano player. It’s valuable to lead and model for our groups a lifestyle of worship where we practice welcoming the presence of God.

Alternative worship methods for small groups:

  • Sing a cappella – have one or two people, lead the worship songs. It’s helpful to sing simple and well known songs. It’s also helpful to have the words printed out. (In general, pre-printing the songs is a good strategy to ensure everyone can follow along.) Another variation could be to have one person who plays an instrument but doesn’t sing lead worship with another person who sings but doesn’t play an instrument.  Some leaders use hardware like Apple TV or Google Chromecast to show pre-selected worship videos/concerts on their TV. Often worship music videos are available on YouTube with lyrics provided.
  • Make a mix CD or use an MP3 player with pre-recorded worship songs.  We can really encounter the living God when our hearts are inspired and uplifted to Him. It’s helpful to have the songs selected into a playlist or sorted in order so there is no shuffling of songs during the actual worship time. Again, print out song sheets with the words of all the songs that will be used during worship. Try to arrive early to ensure your CD or MP3 player works in your host home. Once your group is ready for worship simply turn on your mix CD or MP3 player. It’s usually better to play the music a little louder than normally so that people will not be intimidated by the sound of their own voice.
  • Select a Psalm or another portion of scripture and read it aloud (perhaps twice). Following a time of brief reflection and personal prayer. Use that scripture as a springboard for group-led prayer. Groups can experience amazing times of praying out together along themes of thanksgiving, adoration, repentance, petition, intercession, etc. Often God will move in the prayers of your group members and themes will emerge as evidence of God’s Spirit and presence in your times of worship.
  • Take time prayerfully share praises of gratitude to God, asking the group to speak them out as they feel led. You as a leader may want to open this yourself to set a standard length and nature of participation.
  • Using the Book of Common Prayer or other liturgical readings can also stimulate a spirit of worship and prayer in your groups.  The challenge is to move beyond admiring the words on the page and moving toward admiring God our Father. Leaving space for quiet and personal reflection is totally okay. We can encounter God in fresh and intimate ways when our spirits are quiet before Him. To transition, often the group will need the leader to lead-out in prayer or into a time of personal mediation which can then be shared with the group.
  • Lead the group in taking part in communion, reading scripture and partaking in the elements together.
  • Leading Lectio Divina can really engage group members in worship. This could be a great pathway in ministry time as well. If you are unfamiliar with Lectio Divina, you can read more about it at
  • One of our worship pastors suggested using instrumental music as a background for times of silence in addition to reading Scripture, Lectio Divina or the Book of Common Prayer.  Anderson Cale has a great CD for this kind of thing, but there are many others. Again, silence can be a great bridge to our Father.