We all love it when everything goes right: the music hits, the voices rise, the Spirit of God is powerfully present. But in the frailty of our humanity and our dependence on technology, things will inevitably go wrong from time to time. Here are 3 things I have caught myself doing that are not helpful.
To my fellow worship leaders:
1. STOP CALLING ATTENTION TO A MALFUNCTION OR MISTAKE.
“Is this thing on? Hello… somebody.”
I’ve heard those words way too many times in church. Usually it has to do with a microphone that is not working. Maybe someone is not paying attention at the sound board. Perhaps it is a dead battery. Whatever the reason, pointing it out is often just a reaction to our own insecurities. What we are communicating to the congregation is that someone else made a mistake. Even if it is not our intention, we are pointing the finger.
What is the alternative? Above all, stay calm. It is just a microphone, not an international crisis. Make sure there is nothing you missed or can remedy yourself. Is their a mute switch? Is the cable loose?
Next begin talking in a normal voice for 1 or 2 sentences. Stay casual and comfortable. Give the tech team time to respond. If there is no response see if there is another working microphone that is accessible and move to it.
To go one step further, what if once the issue was resolved you said something like, “I know we had a little technical difficulty but I just want to thank the people who work hard to serve us running media and sound. It is not an easy job and they get here early every week to make these services happen.” Keep it quick and sincere and then move on.
2. STOP ALLOWING FOR AWKWARD TRANSITIONS
I remember as a kid shattering a neighbors window during a football game and all my friends ran for home. Sometimes that is what it looks like in our services. The worship leader ends a song and leaves the stage… cricket… cricket… awkward. The pastor ends his message with a one line prayer and the unprepared musicians scramble.
While I would encourage every church to plan transitions before the service when you land on an awkward transition it is time to lead, not run.
Think of the microphone as a baton of leadership. When you hold it you are in control of the service. How you pass it matters. If your next relay runner is not there, you don’t just drop the baton. Until the baton is passed well you are not done leading.
A few simple responses I have learned from being on both ends of these situations:
1. Ask people to sit / stand or to say hello to someone nearby. Context is key but if there is an action the congregation can be led to take it can feel very natural and buy time for the next element to be in place.
2. Say something like “As ______ comes to lead us let’s prepare our hearts for worship / the message. I know God has something unique to say to each of us today.” What you are actually doing is helping cue and buy time, but at least you are leading into the next element.
3. If you try to be funny, make sure it is at your own expense. Sometimes humor is a valuable tool. We don’t need to be perfect Christians running perfect services. That said, I try to make sure if I make a comment about a mistake it is at my expense not the team or worse, an individual team member.
3. STOP IGNORING MISTAKES
The opportunity of a mistake is lost when there is no follow up. In a spirit of grace, when there is a problem with a service you need to talk about it. If it is a mistake one person made, talk one to one. If it is a team issue, don’t ignore it. “How can we make sure that our mics are ready to go before each service and there is a back up ready if needed?” “How can we make that transition smoother?” Invite improvement with a spirit of grace and be open to admitting your own failures. It will help you serve the church better.0