I can almost hear you groaning through the computer screen. "Memorize my music? You must be crazy? What do you think, that I have nothing but time to sit around and learn worship songs? I'm not a professional musician. Why would ever want to memorize my music?"
All good questions, and I'm glad you asked...er,...that I asked, for you. Well, whoever asked, just give me a chance to explain before you rage-close this page and never return.
1. Memorizing music improves our skills: When you memorize your music, you're learning about it. What chords go together, what chords don't. Get enough songs in your head, and you'll start making connections about key signatures, which chords typically follow each other, and their function within a song. Once you have feel for key signatures, and which chords occur in different keys, you'll be in much better shape if your worship leader throws a song in last minute.
2. Memorizing music helps us play better together: Knowing your music allows you to really listen to what the other worship team members are playing. Instead of burying your head in your stand, notice the different parts and adjust your own part, if need be. You will begin playing together as a team, instead of a bunch of individuals trying to hit the right notes.
3. Memorizing music makes the stage look cleaner: There's nothing worse than a cluttered, stand filled stage. Get rid of the stands, and give yourself an opportunity to see how the songs are connecting (or not connecting) with your audience.
4. Memorizing music gets the songs into our hearts: Memorize a worship song, and you can "take it with you" anywhere you go. Close your eyes and focus on what the words mean to you, how they connect with your own experience. Tune your heart to hear what the Holy Spirit would say to you as you sing a song from your heart to Him. When you have to focus on what chords come next, or wonder what the next lyric might be, it's difficult to hear anything else.
Memorizing your music is an easy way to improve your skills, as a musician and as a leader. Once you get started, you'll find that it's really not as difficult as you think. Maybe you could start with memorizing one or two songs per set.
Remember, it's about improving our ability to worship, and to lead in worship. Start slow, and believe in yourself. You can do it! (I'm cheering for you, really!)