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How to Avoid Awkward Worship Leading

Corporate worship can have its awkward moments.

  • Worship leaders can say “crap” instead of “clap.
  • Capos might be on the wrong fret.
  • Nobody may know any of the songs.
  • The worship leader “talk” might not make any sense.

(Of course, none of this has happened to me.)

The more I lead, the more I realize that a good leader works hard to avoid awkwardness.

That’s why they are a leader. Good worship leaders minimize distraction, focus attention on Jesus and get out of the way when that starts to happen.

Worship blogger Zac Hicks recently quoted Matt Redman’s definition of a good worship leader. This sums it up for me:

“I often define good worship leaders as those who lead strongly enough so that people follow but not so strongly that they themselves become the focus.”

Perfect. Well said.

But so often worship leaders feel unnatural. They look scared. They are overcome with nervousness.

But there are also those who overcome nerves and flow more naturally, similar to a good conversation. So I wanted to draw some parallels between good conversation and good worship leading.

The more I studied this, the more fascinating it became.

What Good Conversation and Leading Worship Have in Common

1. Good Conversationalists Enjoy Each Other—Great conversation happens because both parties enjoy each other’s company. Even if you’ve just met the person, say, on a plane, conversation flows because there is mutual respect and admiration for one another.

Worship Leaders, if you don’t love your church—if you don’t love the people you lead—there will always be a lack of connection. It will always be about you, your platform, your talent and your praise. But nobody loves a one-sided conversation.

Action to take: Spend time with your congregation, not just your band. Talk to them, sit with them, listen to them, enjoy their company and pray for them.

2. Good Conversation Involves Dialogue—In order for conversation to flow, both parties must contribute, right? If you ask a question and someone responds with a one-word answer, it’s awkward. Both parties must contribute to take the conversation deeper, making it meaningful.

Likewise in corporate worship, both the worship team and the congregation have a responsibility. The team has a responsibility to be prepared—both heart and hands—to worship Jesus. Likewise, the congregation has a responsibility to contribute—to respond in worship, not just think about it or watch it happen.

Action to take: Make it your priority to lead engaging worship. Lead in such a way that people are empowered to join you, not just watch you.

3. Good Conversation Involves Listening—Great conversation needs space. Both parties need to listen to each other. If each person continues to try to outdo the other, it’s just ridiculous. Great conversation goes a few levels deep on one subject. But the only way that can happen is through listening, making eye contact and being present.

Worship is the same way. We need space to listen—to slow down and recognize Jesus is present and what the Holy Spirit wants to do. In our high-powered service programming, we can often miss this simple necessity—wait on God. Listen.

Action to take: Stop rushing. Be OK with some silence. Give your worship set space for people to process what God is saying.

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David is a Worship Pastor at Allison Park Church in Pittsburgh, PA.