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.

 

WHO ARE YOU AND WHY ARE YOU TALKING TO ME?

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.

 

HOW TO PLUG IN TO PERSPECTIVE

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!

 

FOUR PERSPECTIVES OF WORSHIP

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.

 

TAKE IT TO YOUR TEAM

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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Worship Vocal Master Class (Video)

Worship Vocal Master Class (Video)

In this live class we answered a bunch of questions from worship leaders and singers.  It turned out to be over 2 hours of high level vocal information, including:

  • A walk through of what killed Phil Wickham’s voice and how to avoid it
  • Why your voice isn’t consistently good on the same song
  • How the voice actually makes sound and how we tend to sabotage it
  • Signs of vocal damage and the different types of unbalanced singing that can lead to damage
  • My own story of recovery from extreme vocal damage
  • How any singer can learn to sing effortlessly
  • Mic tips that can save your voice
  • How to take a compliment in the church (do you know how many people struggle with this?)
  • How to find the perfect key for all singers to sing in
  • How to successfully sing the high/hard notes
  • How to get rid of mucous in the throat and overcome other physical factors that affect singing
  • One of the biggest lies told to singers in the church about what they should do before they sing
  • PLUS, I gave a great vocal warmup and 3 bonus exercises you can do to rebalance your voice during rehearsal or while you’re on stage.

A special thanks to worship leader and recording artist Tricia Zody who joined us as a video guest and shared about the discouraging things you can hear while recording both from your voice and other people and how to handle them.

 

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!

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