We’ve all been in that worship service. The one that got really awkward, really fast when the worship leader said the wrong thing. He didn’t mean to. He was trying. But it happened. He said something, and the feeling got sucked out of the room. The pastor covered his mouth because of the heresy coming out of the worship leader’s mouth.
So what did he say?
Here are nine things I wish worship leaders didn’t say (or said less):
1. Turn to your neighbor and ________. I’m an introvert, so I hate any time that I have to turn and say anything to anyone. I do this sometimes in a sermon, but rarely if ever. Maybe two times in eight years. If you’re a guest at a church, you don’t want to turn to your neighbor and do anything, unless it’s your wife, and then you certainly don’t want to be in church for what you have in mind. Don’t tell them to turn to their neighbor and say something. I was at one church where they put on the screen during the welcome time, “Hug 18 people.” Nope. Time to sit down and check out.
2. Let me tell you what I just heard in the sermon. A pastor spends anywhere from 5-20 hours on a sermon. You just heard it for the first time with everyone else. Please don’t re-preach the sermon. Now if you’re prepared and thought through it, great. But almost every time a worship leader says something off the cuff or prays something off the cuff, heresy follows. Not bad heresy, just things that sound slightly off.
Worship leaders, if you are going to talk or pray, write it out ahead of time. Be prepared. You teach your church about God every time you open your mouth. Make sure what comes out is correct.
3. Who’s excited and ready to sing today?! Almost no one. It’s early and we had a fight on the way to church and our kids were difficult and I stayed up too late on Saturday night.
Also, almost everyone hates to sing in public, especially men. You just need to be aware of that.
We also don’t like to clap and sing at the same time because almost no one can do that. It’s not bad, we just aren’t very good at it. We also can’t sing as high as you can, so when you sing really high, and we know you are awesome and have an incredible range, we stop singing.
4. Father God, dear Father God, holy Father God. This one drives me nuts. It is almost like the worship leader forgot God’s name or needs to remind God of His name or remind the church who they are praying to. I don’t get this.
5. Wispy breath prayer. This goes right along with the Father God prayer, this wispy, romantic, Barry White prayer voice. I remember taking a friend to church. He wasn’t a Christian, and when the worship leader broke out the Barry White prayer voice, my friend leaned over and said, “Is he trying to seduce us?” I kid you not. Just be yourself. Use your voice. It’s good enough to sing on stage, it’s good enough to talk to us. Don’t use a British accent if you’re from America. Be you.
6. I can’t hear you. Yes, cause we aren’t singing. We don’t know the songs, so we aren’t singing. The lights and fog are too flashy, so we feel like we’re at a show and don’t need to participate.
7. Let’s give God a hand. This is often a plea for applause for you. If people want to give God a hand or you a hand, they will.
8. Let’s sing this from our heart. What does that even mean? I have no idea what that means. I went to Bible college, seminary and I’m 80 percent done with a theological doctorate degree, and I have no idea what this means. Someone please tell me how you sing from your heart instead of your mouth or your gut.
9. Be here now, Jesus. This is one of the worst things a worship leader can say. Is Jesus not there before you say this? Was the Holy Spirit not on the move before you asked Him to be on the move? Or, “God, we just want more of You.” You have all of God you need. That’s not the problem. The problem is we don’t see God, we don’t have the eyes and ears for God, not that He isn’t here.
Worship leader, remember, what you say and do on stage teaches us how to connect to God and worship. It also helps us respond to a sermon we just heard or prepares our hearts to hear God’s Word. You have an enormous task. Many of you take it seriously, for which I and your churches are grateful.