Worship Taboos

These are the Top 10 Worship Taboos that are common of worship leaders. Most of them are unintentional and I myself are guilty of a few of them. These are adapted from a worship leader in California named Curt Harlow. I took them and added to them based on my own personal experience. Enjoy!

1. The Look of Death.

Ever see a worship team singing about the joy of the Lord while their faces look like they rather a tooth pulled? Leading is not just playing music. It is engaging a group of people to focus on God. Our body language, and especially our facial expressions, can invite people into this experience or, often in subtle ways, exclude them. There’s nothing stranger than singing a song about clapping and dancing and nobody is actually clapping or dancing.

2. The Night Club Singer.

The opposite of the “look of death” leader is the person who uses the worship service as their American Idol debut. Ask yourself, am I leading or performing? Believe it or not, there is a way to do both!

3. The Amateur Night Guy.

If we leave all the worship leading only to the super talented, we will encourage a celebrity model of ministry that is not healthy. But God does deserve excellence and it is never a good idea to ask someone to lead before they’re ready or if they don’t have the gifting for the job. Bad musicians can distract from a worship set.

When we put people in that position, it is unfair to them and stresses the crud out of everyone else. For this it’s better to give those people lots of opportunities to play in small groups and as backups in the band before putting them in the role of primary worship leaders.

4. The Speed Demon.

What do you do when the service starts to lag? One thing you should never do is simply speed up the songs—fast does not equal liveliness. Good worship leaders can tell the difference between organic enthusiasm from the Holy Spirit and artificially induced mania.

5. The “Beat the Dead Horse Mode” leader.

There are no excuses for neglecting the process of planning and praying. When confronted with a problem, worship leaders often go to their well of familiar songs instead of working to solve the problem. Our worship becomes tired clichés instead of living expressions of praise. Worship leaders need to always be pursuing how they make the worship experience fresh, creative and participatory.

6. The Tune-Up Troubles.

Simply put, playing out of tune is a huge distraction. This is usually a sign that the team was in a rush before the service or that they are not really listening to each other during practice. If you find that you are playing with an out-of-tune crew, stop, be honest and take a moment to tune up. By the way, the more instruments you have, the closer attention you need to pay to tuning (not to mention arrangements, rhythm, etc.).

7. The Perfectionist. (MORE IN THE MONITOR!)

Ever hear a worship leader complain about the soundman in the middle of service? I have. I’m guilty of it myself! I believe whole-heartedly that we should have excellence in every area, but when we take this principle too far, we can develop an ego-driven style leadership.

I have seen leaders grunt and complain and huff and puff just because a monitor was not to their liking or the mic stand refused to submit to their “lordship”. It is too easy to get sucked into the world of performance while forgetting that worship is always a matter of the heart and not the ear. I always have to remind myself that truly excellent worship has been around far longer than sound systems or even electricity for that matter. (God has humbled me in this area plenty of times!)

8. The Sergeant Slave Driver.

This is more unintentional than anything else. We don’t even know that we sound mean, but in the heat of a set, if people are not responding, we can be very tempted to over-exhort. To avoid this taboo, take a breath and change your focus from them to your own heart. Concentrate on getting yourself to truly worship, I find eventually others begin to enter in as well.

9. The Huge Vibrato leader.

A lot of worship leaders seem to have watched too many Broadway musicals. Vibratos, while sounding great on some soloists, do not blend well with other voices. Our goal should always be to lead without standing out dramatically. In most cases, the more nervous the leader is, the greater the warble. Learn to use it tastefully!

10. The Talker or the “Let me just stop things here and preach to you” leader.

While a short, well-placed exhortation from the worship leader can be powerful. Nothing deflates a worship service like a worship leader who continually interrupts the worship set by preaching a sermon. Wade Joye is a worship leader at Elevaiton Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. He wrote in a blog recently about only quoting scripture in 30 seconds or less. This prevents the awkward pause or preachy sermon that usually never comes out right. (I am guilty of this one from time to time!) By and large leaving the speaking to the teacher and the worship leading to the worship leader is the best way to keep the focus on God.



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