I thought I would do a short list of lessons learned the hard way from the many years I have been a worship leader. As I often say in classes I teach, my hope is that the pain I endured from my experiences lightens yours with wisdom. So, here are some FAIL moments as a worship leader we all need to look out for and hope never happen.
FAIL #1: Don’t rehearse the verbiage you plan on using for a transition.
There was a transition I needed to do verbally that was between the kids choir that would perform and the rest of our worship set. I knew about it and did not plan on anything other than addressing what just happened and taking things further. In my mind, I said, “If looks could kill, these kids would have us all dead.” That was sketchy on its own. What came out of the mouth was worse: “These kids are cute enough to kill…” Cue the awkward laughs of three people in a room of hundreds.
Solution: Write out the verbiage to be spoken, and edit it! And, of course, practice speaking it a couple times. It is far better to sound stupid in your office at home than to do so into a microphone.
FAIL #2: Come to worship team rehearsal unprepared.
My songs were all chosen, and even the music uploaded to the online tools I was using. However, I forgot to proof the sheet music in relation to the recordings put up. The result was that a drummer learned a different groove and arrangement, and the rest who read music thought the version was what was written. Add this to the fact that the song was in the wrong key. Cue cacophonous sounds from the worship stage and an embarrassed drummer’s groan.
Solution: Proof everything you have in writing and make written notes to the order of a song. In fact, make your own guitar/vocal recording of the flow of a song with a click so that the right key and arrangement can be practiced by your team.
FAIL #3: Rarely ask your team how they are doing in their personal lives.
The week before Easter my best and only available drummer is distraught. His one-and-only-one night stand results in a pregnancy. To make matters worse, the family of this young woman have means and have spent time and money to intentionally destroy his life. Of course, I need a drummer for Easter! How did this happen and what was I supposed to do about it? Cue sad music with a tensions stinger.
Solution: Had I been more intentional in discipling this young man who played music with me, I would have known about his struggles and perhaps also had been able to be a better support to him in his sin. The dilemma is a non-issue. What is best for the person is best for the church, right? So, don’t just get prayer requests at rehearsal. Be a source of spiritual growth for your team!
FAIL #4: Allow a conflict to go unresolved on the worship team.
You overhear the band talking smack about the audio team. You see the audio team with looks of disgust at the band when they ask for a new battery. The rift seems to simmer, with you even addressing to the team at a devotional how being a team is what we all need to be. You say that both the band and audio team are on the same team. Somehow, the passive aggressive approach backfires. Now, the pastor is concerned about the relationship dissonance. Cue the Psycho violins…”wee wee wee wee…”
Solution: Directly address the behavior the moment it is observed if at all possible. If not, as soon as possible talk to each offending party about what you see. The key is to address behavior, not motive. After all, do any of us truly know the intent of another’s heart? No. So, simply bring the parties together and make them uncomfortable until they resolve it. If you don’t like to confront, I am so sorry. But, do it.
Fail #5: Believe that your new piece of gear will bring the Holy Spirit more this weekend.
For some reason, the idea of using a head-worn Countryman mic as a worship leader seemed like an amazing idea. The FOH would not have to ride your fader as much since you would be at a consistent distance to the mic. Hopefully, no one would really notice the mic. The point is, this piece of gear was in your mind a silver bullet to allow you to miraculously be able to lead people to the Throne. No one even noticed a difference. Cue the crickets.
Solution: So, that new effects pedal, pair of skinny jeans, American Strat, or tech is not going to replace prayer, preparation, and patience. You are in a marathon, not a sprint. While gear may aid in solving an issue such as a new tone, it will not bring the Holy Spirit. Yes, subwoofers seem to help significantly, but they alone just blow air. It’s the Wind that we want.
Yes, there are much more. What others can you contribute to this list?