The Top Reason Worship Songs are Ineffective (and what to do about it)

The Top Reason Worship Songs are Ineffective (and what to do about it)

Pick any church, any Sunday. Glance at the platform and chances are most (if not all) of the team is ‘eyes closed, hands up’.

Sound familiar? If this describes your team, you may be missing one of the most powerful ingredients of effective worship.

As a hired gun voice I spent quite a few years gigging with large event bands until 4am Sunday then a lead worshipper for three services starting at 6. And switching between the two allowed a window into how some singers connect with the audience while others unintentionally shut them out.

There is a basic set of expectations that come along with being a paid singer (and those of you who gig outside the church see this too).  You will sing well, you will connect with the audience, and you will lead them to celebrate/party/whatever the aim of the event is. It’s part of the job.

So it’s always seemed a given to me that those qualities would be apart of effective worship.

But after busy volunteers learn the songs, find the parts and try to look like it’s not awkward being watched on the platform, we tend to miss one of the most impactful elements that make worship come alive.

It’s not raising your hands.
It’s not looking super spiritual.
Not even remembering all the words.

The single element most worship teams completely ignore is PERSPECTIVE.



Most of us are good at reminding our teams to be a ‘lead worshipper’ on the platform. Perspective is the key to helping your team grab on to that concept and make it real.

Simply singing from the perspective of the lyric connects the singer to the message in a personally powerful way that people can feel all the way to the back row.



For better or worse, your teams body language is already deciding who the message of the song is for.

Imagine your team singing with eyes closed and hands up. Now imagine yourself in the back row, a new visitor or a regular attendee who is still not sure what they believe.

The team sings Chris Tomlins’ “This is Amazing Grace” eyes closed, hands up.

You have just been told that this wonderful, amazing grace is not for you. The team may be enjoying it but you are still on the outside looking in.

Now imagine the team scanning through the crowd, smiling, excited about the message and looking right at you.

Now the Amazing Grace becomes an invitation. It’s for YOU too!



There are four general perspectives in worship music:

  1. From me to God
  2. From us (believers) to God
  3. To other believers about God
  4. To the world/unbelievers about God


Now let’s test your perspective skills.

Which perspective are the following songs written from?

  • Lord I Need You (Matt Maher)
  • Your Grace is Enough (Chris Tomlin)
  • I Give You My Heart (Hillsong)
  • I Will Follow (Chris Tomlin)
  • This is Amazing Grace (Phil Wickham)
  • How He Loves (David Crowder)
  • To God from Us – We Fall Down (Passion)
  • Forever/We Sing Hallelujah (Kari Jobe)
  • Revelation Song (Bethel)
  • God is Able (Passion)


Were some of them tricky? It depends.

Sometimes we’ll change ‘me’ to ‘us’ on a repeat. When the noun changes, the perspective changes.



Every line of every song is not written to be a private moment between you and God and it honestly shouldn’t look like it is.

When we lead from the perspective of the lyric (and fill in that blank when it’s not clear) we will naturally focus our attention on the intended audience.

Scan the crowd when it’s a message to the world. Look between a few believers you know when the message is to the church. And don’t be afraid to look deep inside when the song gets personal.

Try this yourself or with your team next time you worship from the platform.

Identify the perspective of the song/lyric
Look at the intended audience like you’re having the conversation the lyric tells.
Make it personal by thinking of someone you are close to that represents that audience (a prodigal son or daughter, a close friend struggling with their faith, etc.)
SHY SINGER TIP: Feel awkward looking at people? Aim for the forehead or top of the head. They will feel like you’re looking them right in the eyes.

Changing your perspective will transform the way you look on the platform, create an environment of authenticity and open the door to more effective worship.

Does your team already do this? Tell us how it’s impacted your worship. Have another idea to add? Post it below!

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Church Singing – NOT for wimps or divas

Church Singing – NOT for wimps or divas

Open auditions for any choir or worship team and you’ll run into them; singers who just aren’t sure they’re good enough to sing from the stage and those who are convinced that they are God’s embodied gift to music in the church.

The problem is that both of them think they’re there for the singing.

Yes, I’m aware that singing is a what you do at one of those auditions, and I know there are plenty of both of these types of singers in the choir and on the worship team and maybe even a music leader leading you to believe that singing in the church is all about your talent, or the measure thereof. But it’s not.

There is only ONE venue in which your ability as a singer takes the second chair; and that is the church.  And because most singers don’t know this exception to the rule, they never find the satisfaction they’re looking for when they sing in the church.

The insecure singer is only made more insecure by watching what they believe to be better singers snatching up all the solos and even the diva can never quite get enough stage time to fulfill their need for praise. That’s because singing in the church is not at all about you, or your ability.

So if your skill level is not the most important thing, what is?

Your audience.

Unlike any other venue you could sing in, in the church there is only one audience member that counts; God. After all, it’s His place, not yours.

And you’re not singing for His amusement or because He didn’t have anyone better booked that day.  You’re there to carry the great responsibility of offering a gift to God himself on behalf of everyone in the seats and on the stage.

And when your gift; your song, reaches His ears, you don’t have to worry about how flashy the packaging is or even if it’s on key (that’s really more for us, and He gets that). You just have to be able to look Him in the eye and offer it to Him from your heart.

Sounds simple, but it can be tougher than pullin’ off a high C at full force for 4 measures in front of a crowd of thousands. And that’s probably why, when done with the correct perspective, singing in the church can be more fulfilling than singing any other place.

The largest crowd I’ve sung for was around 500,000. It was a blast. It was great to hear a sea of applause, but honestly…no lie; I’d take the joy of singing in the church any day over it.

Don’t diss the opportunity to sing in your church. You might discover an opportunity to sing different styles of music than you’re used to.

You might improve your ability to harmonize, or at least to work with other moody musicians! But more importantly, you’ll miss that chance to experience why the angels just can’t stop singing; the joy of performing for the most important audience ever.

Share your experiences singing in the church below!

4 Steps to Conquering Stage Fright

4 Steps to Conquering Stage Fright


It’s OK to admit it.  Sometimes we all get a little freaked out about performing in front of people.  I guess you could say it’s just part of the gig.

Stage fright is much more common among performers than you might think.  Barbra Streisand has such intense stage fright that her entire choreography is built around items she can hold on to as a coping mechanism; a railing, a chair, the cord of the mic, a hand to hold.  Even through years of improvement, she rarely performs without a darkened theater, props close by or medication to help.

Amy Grant also suffers from extreme stage fright. From a young age, Amy started performing barefooted as a way to stay grounded and avoid feeling dizzy on stage.

Luckily that level of stage fright is less common than the nerves most of us feel.  So if Babs can do it – so can weHere are a few things that’ll take the edge off your stage fright:

Get Prepared

Getting on stage without careful preparation is like choosing to swim in shark infested waters….

Seriously, why would you put yourself in a position to be torn to shreds?

Not completely preparing to perform is no less stupid.  Invest the time in developing your vocal technique and styling with a good coach, get familiar with the genre and songs you want or need to perform and get some good instruction on what to do once you’re up there.

Knowing what you’re going to do and that you can actually DO it is more than half the battle when it comes to great performances.


Get Good at Making Mistakes

But….but…..good singers don’t make mistakes….right? Wrong.

GOOD singers are GREAT at making mistakes.  SO great that you rarely even notice they’re making them.  Plan ahead for all the mistakes you’ve made in the past or those you’ve seen others make and then make a plan for how you’ll recover.  This simple step alone has kept very talented people from throwing in the towel altogether after a night of mishaps.


Get the Focus Off of Yourself

Not only is focusing on your audience instead of yourself good for distracting your brain from being focused on your nerves (which makes things worse); it’s also what you’re there to do!

You wouldn’t be asked to be on stage unless you were there to give something to your audience.  Think about your song(s) and the kind of music you do.  Is the goal to help them have a good time?  Make them laugh?  Rock?  Cry with you on your sad, sad ballad?

Pick one face and pretend they’re your new best friend.  When you see someone looking at you, look right back and connect with them.  Look for it.  Don’t hide from it.

When you put the focus on what you’re doing for your audience your brain won’t have nearly as much time to get hyper hooked on why the edge of your lip is quivering or if you really do look stupid in that outfit.  Instead, you’ll be thinking, “Yay!  I made that kid smile and that’s just what I wanted to do.”

You owe it to the people who take the time to listen to you to give them your attention.  Do that and you may just forget about the things that freak you out on stage.  And that beats ‘visualization’, ‘focus points’ and medication every time.


Get On Stage

Find every opportunity to build your comfort level in front of an audience.  Don’t wait for that special night to highlight your unique talent.  Take anything that you can do that involves a stage; community theater, singing backup in a friends’ band.  Just get on stage.

Part of getting comfortable on stage is just having done it so many times that it becomes familiar.  After a while a stage is just a stage.  But take a long break and it might just become unbearable all over again.  Don’t let that happen.  Make it a habit to get in front of people whenever you can and you’ll find the nerves get smaller every time.…or at least every other time.


The more you follow these steps, the more you’ll find you enjoy being on stage.  And the more you enjoy performing the more you can give your audience.

Share your thoughts about stage fright below! Singing Lessons


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