TOP 10 THINGS I WISH WORSHIP LEADERS WOULD STOP SAYING

Many of you will be extremely busy tomorrow, putting your musical gifting to good use. However, it would be worth taking note of this article written by Jared C. Wilson, who is the Director of Content Strategy for Midwestern Seminary, managing editor of For The Church, and author of more than ten books, including Gospel Wakefulness, The Pastor’s Justification, and The Prodigal Church.  This article and more can be read at The Gospel Coalition but it is reproduced in full below. Read on and maybe add your own phrases to the list:


 

In which a crusty old curmudgeon rants a little about annoying songleader banter. Don’t take this too seriously, except maybe do. 

10. Are we ready to have fun this morning? 

The answer is, “Probably not.” The truth is, when this is your welcome at the start of the music time, it tells me where your head’s at. Nobody goes to church to have a bad time, of course, and I’m sure plenty of people go to “have fun,” but is this the point of worship? Is “having fun” where you want hearts directed as you lead people to exalt God? No, it’s where you want hearts directed when you’re just trying to “crush your set” or “rock it out for Jesus” [see #5]. “Are we ready to have fun?” is just slightly worse than this next common opener: 

9. How’s everybody feeling? 

If I wanted to stretch to justify this statement, I could say that what you’re asking the congregation to do is self-reflect on their spiritual condition and present their real, whole selves honestly and submissively to the glory of Christ as you lead them in adoration of him. But my guess is that 9.9 times out of 10 what you’re really trying to do is get people to say, “Woooooooo!” 

8. You can do better than that! 

Or some other form of nagging about how we’re not singing or participating to your liking. It’s never really on my mind at a church service to think of ways to impress the worship leader. Similarly shaming is: 

7. I can’t hear you! 

Well, maybe turn the volume down. We can’t hear us either. 

6. [Introducing a hymn] Here’s an oldie we dusted off. 

Please don’t apologize for leading us in the rare song that is theologically rich and doctrinally solid. Apologize for not leading us in them more often! 

5. “Rockin’ worship.” 

Please stop. I know you’ve got a good drummer and amps that go to 11, but referring to church music as “rockin'”—or using the phrase “rockin’ it out”—is somewhere in the category of fanny packs and duck-face selfies. 

4. Lord, we invite you to be here. 

This is the worship leader’s equivalent of “asking Jesus into your heart.” I think I know what the phrase means, but it reveals something about our thinking related to worship. For instance, is it true that God is summoned by our worship? Or is it actually the other way around? He calls us—we then respond in worship. God isn’t a genie and worship isn’t like rubbing a golden lamp. Nor is he a cosmic butler to be summoned. Don’t invite the Lord into a space like he doesn’t already own it and isn’t already there. 

3. God showed up. 

Again, I think I know what is meant by this phrase. It can be a way of saying “we felt emotionally touched during the music time,” which can be an okay thing—it would be weird for Christians to never feel engaged emotionally in worshiping God—but it can also be a way of equating emotional reactions with God’s presence in an unhelpful way, in a way that inadvertently communicates to people that when they don’t feel good, God must be absent. 

2. Let’s give God a hand. 

Translation: I would like to hear some applause. 

1. Turn to your neighbor and _____________. 

There’s really nothing wrong with this approach, but as a socially awkward introvert, this kind of instruction is a huge heaping bowl of panic attack soup.

26 comments

  • Wendy

    Wendy England

    This is the best, and funniest, true list and I hope all worship leaders take note! I am grateful to find that I think similarly to someone I truly respect, Noel Richards - thank you!

    This is the best, and funniest, true list and I hope all worship leaders take note! I am grateful to find that I think similarly to someone I truly respect, Noel Richards - thank you!

  • Rob Newton

    Rob Newton Loughborough

    The worst ever one doing the rounds is "let's stand to our feet"!!!! What?!?! is it even English?

    The worst ever one doing the rounds is "let's stand to our feet"!!!! What?!?! is it even English?

  • Ĺesley

    Ĺesley England

    Good list and so true! How about adding "Let's just sing....." (we are not JUST singing!) and "God is in the house" ... yes we come together to meet with Him but although we know what this means, again it can focus on the emotional response and tends to be declared during loud enthusiastic times of worship. What about when God is sooo present during times of heartfelt silence and repentance as we knew before Him to worship??

    Good list and so true! How about adding "Let's just sing....." (we are not JUST singing!) and "God is in the house" ... yes we come together to meet with Him but although we know what this means, again it can focus on the emotional response and tends to be declared during loud enthusiastic times of worship. What about when God is sooo present during times of heartfelt silence and repentance as we knew before Him to worship??

  • Lesley

    Lesley England

    And of course God Is never just "in the house ...He is everywhere!!

    And of course God Is never just "in the house ...He is everywhere!!

  • Steve

    Steve England

    Thanks for this. I like to go back a step further and question where the modern role of 'worship leader' has come from. It certainly wasn't around for previous generations when congregational singing was led by an organ or piano. Choir directors are certainly in the OT along with lots of noisy instruments that are sadly no longer available. 'Worship leader' seemed to emerge along with the growth of guitar bands and amplification. I believe we have also lost something important with the demise of hearty congregational singing. Vocal participation now is frequently inaudible because of the volume of the 'accompaniment'. This lack can go completely unnoticed if presentation becomes priority. I comment as a guitarist and former leader of our church music group.

    Thanks for this. I like to go back a step further and question where the modern role of 'worship leader' has come from. It certainly wasn't around for previous generations when congregational singing was led by an organ or piano. Choir directors are certainly in the OT along with lots of noisy instruments that are sadly no longer available. 'Worship leader' seemed to emerge along with the growth of guitar bands and amplification. I believe we have also lost something important with the demise of hearty congregational singing. Vocal participation now is frequently inaudible because of the volume of the 'accompaniment'. This lack can go completely unnoticed if presentation becomes priority.
    I comment as a guitarist and former leader of our church music group.

  • Greg

    Greg Seattle

    Very true! "Christianeez" is tough to overcome! How about we engage people (and God!) in normal conversation. After many years of leading, I've learned sometimes it's best to say nothing.😉

    Very true! "Christianeez" is tough to overcome! How about we engage people (and God!) in normal conversation. After many years of leading, I've learned sometimes it's best to say nothing.😉

  • Tim

    Tim Cornwall UK

    Number 1: I quite agree. I am that introvert! Number 2: Agree again. He doesn't need one. Number 3: is one I've always taken issue with. We are worshipping the omnipresent God. He's already here. He was here before we got here & He will be here after we've gone. He doesn't need to 'show up'. Number 4: I don't really understand this one. What is a 'fanny pack'? It sounds a bit gynaecological to me! I can only assume it has a different connotation on the other side of the Atlantic!

    Number 1: I quite agree. I am that introvert!

    Number 2: Agree again. He doesn't need one.

    Number 3: is one I've always taken issue with. We are worshipping the omnipresent God. He's already here. He was here before we got here & He will be here after we've gone. He doesn't need to 'show up'.

    Number 4: I don't really understand this one. What is a 'fanny pack'? It sounds a bit gynaecological to me! I can only assume it has a different connotation on the other side of the Atlantic!

  • Noel Richards

    Noel Richards

    A 'fanny pack' is what we Brits call a 'bum bag'.

    A 'fanny pack' is what we Brits call a 'bum bag'.

  • Pete Brayne

    Pete Brayne Guildford

    "And no for a song with actions"

    "And no for a song with actions"

  • Kenneth Scott

    Kenneth Scott Scotland

    How I agree with that list of phrases being stopped. I cringe when I hear them. As a Scot Brit, I use bum bag and not the more crude version mentioned. Barbara Scott.

    How I agree with that list of phrases being stopped. I cringe when I hear them. As a Scot Brit, I use bum bag and not the more crude version mentioned. Barbara Scott.

  • lynn alexander

    lynn alexander scotland

    my all time pet hate is - after the children have left the worship leader or vicar/minister says - and NOW let's worship together or let's begin our time of worship. I have lost count of how many times I have heard that across many denominations. What!?!?!?!? So when the children were present we weren't worshipping? We were just playing around in the presence of a holy God? Or tolerating the children with us, whilst inside longing for them to leave so we could get into OUR time with God? This, to the Son of God who physically took a little child and put them in the midst of the listeners of the day and said 'unless you change and become like this little child, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven"? Worship leaders - remember men, women, children and little ones bowed down and worshipped in 2 Chronicles 20 as the victory came through worship Jehoshaphat saw Moab and Ammon defeated. Children are always present when atmospheres are shifted. Worship leaders, please, please get acquainted with some theology of worship and the presence of the whole family of God. Recall the fact that Jesus himself quoted to the religious leaders of the day that it was through the praise of children and infants that the enemy is silenced.

    my all time pet hate is - after the children have left the worship leader or vicar/minister says - and NOW let's worship together or let's begin our time of worship. I have lost count of how many times I have heard that across many denominations.

    What!?!?!?!? So when the children were present we weren't worshipping? We were just playing around in the presence of a holy God? Or tolerating the children with us, whilst inside longing for them to leave so we could get into OUR time with God? This, to the Son of God who physically took a little child and put them in the midst of the listeners of the day and said 'unless you change and become like this little child, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven"? Worship leaders - remember men, women, children and little ones bowed down and worshipped in 2 Chronicles 20 as the victory came through worship Jehoshaphat saw Moab and Ammon defeated. Children are always present when atmospheres are shifted. Worship leaders, please, please get acquainted with some theology of worship and the presence of the whole family of God. Recall the fact that Jesus himself quoted to the religious leaders of the day that it was through the praise of children and infants that the enemy is silenced.

  • Lynn

    Lynn Eadtbourne

    We are learning a new song today so let's sing that verse again and again and again......we are here to worship not choir practice !!

    We are learning a new song today so let's sing that verse again and again and again......we are here to worship not choir practice !!

  • Kay

    Kay Stoke

    In our church forgiveness is at the worship.leaders discretion!!

    In our church forgiveness is at the worship.leaders discretion!!

  • Mike

    Mike Chichester

    What is annoying these days is when you go to the front to pray or share through a microphone ,a bible verse or prophesy etc-- the constant music playing or guitar twiddling along. It's intimidating and almost says "oh come on hurry up we want to sing the next song for goodness sake!!"

    What is annoying these days is when you go to the front to pray or share through a microphone ,a bible verse or prophesy etc-- the constant music playing or guitar twiddling along. It's intimidating and almost says "oh come on hurry up we want to sing the next song for goodness sake!!"

  • Keith H

    Keith H North Yorkshire

    I understand your irritation but my dear dad in the days before worship bands and leaders placed upon the pulpit to encourage the occupant "BE NOT AFRAID OF THEIR FACES" this is applicable to all who stand before men as some congregations look like hanging party's not fellow worshippers. To know you are playing buzzword bingo, 😥

    I understand your irritation but my dear dad in the days before worship bands and leaders placed upon the pulpit to encourage the occupant "BE NOT AFRAID OF THEIR FACES" this is applicable to all who stand before men as some congregations look like hanging party's not fellow worshippers. To know you are playing buzzword bingo, 😥

  • Beverley

    Beverley New Zealand

    I agree with everything folk are saying in the comments. Another thing not needed is, for whoever is leading the singing, reading the bible or any other involvement, It is not necessary to say 'good morning' before you start. I really agree with Mike , Chichester. It is very off putting to have 'music' (noise) in the background when praying or reading. I love a mix of old and new songs/hymns when I worship God.

    I agree with everything folk are saying in the comments. Another thing not needed is, for whoever is leading the singing, reading the bible or any other involvement, It is not necessary to say 'good morning' before you start. I really agree with Mike , Chichester. It is very off putting to have 'music' (noise) in the background when praying or reading.
    I love a mix of old and new songs/hymns when I worship God.

  • Arlene

    Arlene Ohio

    I so agree with list

    I so agree with list

  • Alison

    Alison Melbourne

    I'm scared to share this as I don't want to offend anyone but it's a big amen from me!

    I'm scared to share this as I don't want to offend anyone but it's a big amen from me!

  • Domhnall

    Domhnall Scotland

    We have a worship leader who is fond of counting in EVERY song with "ah-one-two-three..." Performance, arrangement and excess volume seem the order of the day, I'm sorry to say. The congregation are often left waiting while well rehearsed lengthy intros, instrumentals or outros are completed.

    We have a worship leader who is fond of counting in EVERY song with "ah-one-two-three..." Performance, arrangement and excess volume seem the order of the day, I'm sorry to say. The congregation are often left waiting while well rehearsed lengthy intros, instrumentals or outros are completed.

  • Mark

    Mark Chesterfield

    Funny, I have to admit, (re 4) I do pray for God to come and be with us and also encourage applause for what he's done for us occasionally at the end of a song. For me though, if the worship leader has to say anything you can't beat a good couple of verses from a Psalm/Bible to motivate/focus people on God.

    Funny, I have to admit, (re 4) I do pray for God to come and be with us and also encourage applause for what he's done for us occasionally at the end of a song.

    For me though, if the worship leader has to say anything you can't beat a good couple of verses from a Psalm/Bible to motivate/focus people on God.

  • Christine Swain

    Christine Swain Manchester

    A great list! And it has to be remembered that 'worship'is not the same thing as 'music'. There are endless ways to worship God; through painting or drama or listening to music of all styles. Or cleaning the church loos with an attitude of thanks and praise! It's also all too easy for people to get caught up in the culture that goes alongside worship songs and accidentally end up worshipping the music itself or the person leading it. Subtly dangerous! God gets left out totally!

    A great list! And it has to be remembered that 'worship'is not the same thing as 'music'. There are endless ways to worship God; through painting or drama or listening to music of all styles. Or cleaning the church loos with an attitude of thanks and praise! It's also all too easy for people to get caught up in the culture that goes alongside worship songs and accidentally end up worshipping the music itself or the person leading it. Subtly dangerous! God gets left out totally!

  • Jeff

    Jeff Ontario

    Having been on both sides of the platform, I've heard it said much to the shagrin of the congregation and team. I've often said, look at the old testament for an example The musicians always lead before the Ark or before the army of the Israelites. This implies the critical importance of the opportunity and responsibilities given to the worship leader and team. It's not a concert, it is helping God's people prepare to hear the Word of the Living God. Many times people have had a rough week or a great week but aren't ready to hear the Word. Our focus at all times must be towards the One whom we want to honour and glorify. If it's horizontal worship then why bother? Yes worship is to be engaging, thought provoking, heart turning whether by piano,, choir, full orchestra, or voice alone. Joy is a huge part of this too but not at the expense of becoming trite.

    Having been on both sides of the platform, I've heard it said much to the shagrin of the congregation and team. I've often said, look at the old testament for an example
    The musicians always lead before the Ark or before the army of the Israelites. This implies the critical importance of the opportunity and responsibilities given to the worship leader and team. It's not a concert, it is helping God's people prepare to hear the Word of the Living God. Many times people have had a rough week or a great week but aren't ready to hear the Word. Our focus at all times must be towards the One whom we want to honour and glorify. If it's horizontal worship then why bother? Yes worship is to be engaging, thought provoking, heart turning whether by piano,, choir, full orchestra, or voice alone. Joy is a huge part of this too but not at the expense of becoming trite.

  • Daniel

    Daniel Ontario

    I would like to applaud you for including VOLUME in the list more than once. When I first came to the Lord I was saved out of a life that included the bar scene, loud music and partying, (the world's word not mine anymore). The church I attended worshiped with soft, reverent music like 'Holy spirit, thou art welcome in this place', 'As the dear panteth for the water so my soul longeth after thee.'. Mixed with hymns like 'The old rugged cross'. Once I learned the songs and was able to just close my eyes and focus on God, I learned what it meant to worship in spirit and in truth. It was at those times that the presence of God fell heavy on me and I learned what it meant to be intimate with Almighty God. It was powerful and moving. I am now unable to find a church that still worships in this way. I am saddened to find worship now more resembles my old life than my new. I have wondered at this and it seem to me that the church in general has ceased being "set apart" "a particular people" all in the name of relevance. Am I correct? Has the church sold out to the world to fill the pews? I hate to sound critical but coupled with the fact that also missing is preaching on Sin and Hell and accountability, even the precious blood of the Lord shed for the sins of the world is conspicuously absent. Taken as a whole it would seem that many church houses have become social clubs. It is a sad commentary, and not entirely where I was planning to go when I began to type this response but here I am at the end and I am saddened greatly by the ultimate conclusion.

    I would like to applaud you for including VOLUME in the list more than once. When I first came to the Lord I was saved out of a life that included the bar scene, loud music and partying, (the world's word not mine anymore). The church I attended worshiped with soft, reverent music like 'Holy spirit, thou art welcome in this place', 'As the dear panteth for the water so my soul longeth after thee.'. Mixed with hymns like 'The old rugged cross'. Once I learned the songs and was able to just close my eyes and focus on God, I learned what it meant to worship in spirit and in truth. It was at those times that the presence of God fell heavy on me and I learned what it meant to be intimate with Almighty God. It was powerful and moving. I am now unable to find a church that still worships in this way. I am saddened to find worship now more resembles my old life than my new. I have wondered at this and it seem to me that the church in general has ceased being "set apart" "a particular people" all in the name of relevance. Am I correct? Has the church sold out to the world to fill the pews? I hate to sound critical but coupled with the fact that also missing is preaching on Sin and Hell and accountability, even the precious blood of the Lord shed for the sins of the world is conspicuously absent. Taken as a whole it would seem that many church houses have become social clubs. It is a sad commentary, and not entirely where I was planning to go when I began to type this response but here I am at the end and I am saddened greatly by the ultimate conclusion.

  • Scott Murray

    Scott Murray Facebook

    I feel some of the frustrations too, I do believe though that some of the awkward stuff they say is because thats,all they can think to say and its status quo, should probably have some mercy for them I don't know that I would do better myself. There is another frustration that bugs me too, having a bit of sensitive discernment I can feel somtimes the worship team trying to whip people into a place of human enthusiasm, it's not the same as worship. The truth of it though is In what Jesus says "true worshippers worship in spirit and truth" so it is the responsibility of every believer to enter into the Spirit and not rely on the worship team to do it for us.

    I feel some of the frustrations too, I do believe though that some of the awkward stuff they say is because thats,all they can think to say and its status quo, should probably have some mercy for them I don't know that I would do better myself. There is another frustration that bugs me too, having a bit of sensitive discernment I can feel somtimes the worship team trying to whip people into a place of human enthusiasm, it's not the same as worship. The truth of it though is In what Jesus says "true worshippers worship in spirit and truth" so it is the responsibility of every believer to enter into the Spirit and not rely on the worship team to do it for us.

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous

    Totally agree with the list especially the ones about 'God showing up' but just think we should remember that 1Chronicles 25:1 says, "David, together with the commanders of the army, set apart some of the sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals" So actually the original "worship leaders'" role was to prophesy (i.e. speak/sing out God's message) with musical accompaniment rather than lead congregational worship. Perhaps having a musical backing to others prophesying or reading God's Word is scriptural after all

    Totally agree with the list especially the ones about 'God showing up' but just think we should remember that 1Chronicles 25:1 says, "David, together with the commanders of the army, set apart some of the sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals"
    So actually the original "worship leaders'" role was to prophesy (i.e. speak/sing out God's message) with musical accompaniment rather than lead congregational worship. Perhaps having a musical backing to others prophesying or reading God's Word is scriptural after all

  • Mathew

    Mathew England

    Got it in one! Most horrifically, the beggars are now claiming to fulfil the roles of prophet ("prophetic music", whatever that is - I think it is a mispelling of "pathetic"), teacher (the lyrics teach us - Good Lord!) and elder (they are leaders in the church.) The only reasonable response has to be "Aargh!!!"

    Got it in one! Most horrifically, the beggars are now claiming to fulfil the roles of prophet ("prophetic music", whatever that is - I think it is a mispelling of "pathetic"), teacher (the lyrics teach us - Good Lord!) and elder (they are leaders in the church.) The only reasonable response has to be "Aargh!!!"

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