Worship/Music faux pas*

imprrh@gmail.com —  May 4, 2014

*(Yes. I don’t know faux pas is either. But got you to read this!)

It was a Wednesday night. I was a young pastor. A guest showed up to my church and asked if he could sing. I did not speak to him, just had the message relayed to me. Since I trusted my leaders I approved the special music.

The guy sang. Strike that. The guy got up and attempted to express vocally what he had heard in the track at some point. It sounded nothing like the original, for sure. It was the worst attempt at singing I have ever heard. The accompaniment track was just background music, because it seemed he was singing an entirely different song. It was one of those “earth swallow me, I’m going to kill someone (in Jesus name) this is probably my last day as a pastor” moments.

When he was done, someone said amen. Enthusiastically. (there is one of those in your church too)

I get to be at a different church every Sabbath. I’ve heard the good, the bad and the ugly. Here are three suggestions for people that lead worship/sing in church.

1. Pick songs people know. (By people I mean other people than those in your worship team.)

I believe in the 20% rule. No more than 20% of the songs in the song service/worship set should be foreign to the audience. This happens too much. This especially refers to the FIRST song in your set. Worship time is no time to practice. The less familiar the people and yourself are with the song the easier the opportunity to mess up (see #3). Now, to be fair, I believe that God didn’t stop inspiring music in 1957. New songs are not our enemies. Just don’t be so current that you lose your audience.

2. Pick singing over talking.

One of these days I am going to write a blog about worship leaders that go on and on…and on. That day is not today. I will say, that while a short thought might prepare the minds and hearts of the people to worship, please never do this:

  1. Tell a long story. Especially about yourself. Especially if has nothing to do with the song. It’s not about you.
  2. Chastise people for not singing or telling them to sing loud. Why do you do this? Shame and guilt with a side plate of yelling do no good.
  3. Make people stand for 4 songs. You know who likes this? Let me see…NOBODY. Guests don’t. People with small kids don’t. People with bad backs don’t. People that are vertically challenged don’t.

3. Pick preparation over last minute.

Repeat this after me: Last. Minute. Is. My. Enemy. When things are done last minute bad stuff happens:

  1. You start picking the same songs over and over.
  2. Your probability that the computer/piano/mic/projector malfunctions is higher.

I leave you with this familiar, yet very practical quote of Ellen White:

Singing is a part of the worship of God, but in the bungling manner in which it is often conducted, it is no credit to the truth, and no honor to God. There should be system and order in this as well as every other part of the Lord’s work. Organize a company of the best singers, whose voices can lead the congregation, and then let all who will, unite with them. Those who sing should make an effort to sing in harmony; they should devote some time to practice, that they may employ this talent to the glory of God. (Evangelism 506)

God. Excellence. Organization. Practice. Sounds like a great plan to me.


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One response to Worship/Music faux pas*

  1. Haskell Williams May 5, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Roger, I’ll be the “Amen” to this ‘song.’ Great advice.