One of the biggest challenges we face as worship leaders is the challenge to eliminate distractions. Distractions include everything from the glaringly obvious (a mic not being turned on, or the wrong words on the screen) to the subtly uncomfortable silence that comes when no one on the platform is exactly sure what’s supposed to happen next. Over the years, I’ve been accused, on more than one occasion, of focusing too much on perfection and expecting too much from a group of volunteers. That’s a fair criticism, and I need to improve in that area. However, while I’m striving to allow the Holy Spirit to mold me into a more loving and understanding leader, I truly pray that I never lose my passion for a distraction-free worship service. Why? Because the message is too important!
Congregational worship is a life-transforming experience. Romans 10:17 reminds us that faith comes by hearing the Gospel. It’s important that we eliminate anything that could distract from the eternal message of the good news about Jesus. It’s not about perfection for the sake of human admiration. It’s all about Him and letting the people hear His voice! With that as our goal, I’d like to offer a few suggestions that I’ve found have helped eliminate distractions in worship. We would love to hear what has worked for you as well.
- Rehearse, rehearse, and again I say rehearse!
It is amazing to me how many churches join in worship each week without ever having a complete rehearsal. We could write pages on the topic, but suffice to say, almost nothing goes as planned the first time it’s attempted A failure to rehearse is a plan to fail.
- Get a decibel meter.
Nothing distracts an audience more frequently than the sound being too soft or too loud. See the article by Dr. Thom Rainer on: How Loud Should Music Be
- Discourage exits from the front of the building during worship services.
I’m obviously not talking about blocking fire exits, but too many churches have restroom locations toward the front of the worship center. It’s incredibly distracting to have folks entering and exiting near the platform. Every effort should be made to ensure that all entry and exiting during the service be through the rear of the auditorium.
- If you can’t hit the notes, don’t sing it from the platform.
If the congregation can’t hit the notes they are supposed to sing, change the key.
- Don’t use the worship service as a rehearsal for your instrument.
If you can’t play the notes, practice until you can.
- Watch what you wear.
When you’re on the platform, we can see you. Your clothing should never distract.
- Move to the next slide.
The next slide should come up when the congregation begins the last phrase of the previous slide.
- Attention Sound Techs!
Sometimes the volume is supposed to increase and decrease – particularly during a musical selection. If the volumes are within established decibel levels there’s no need to touch the soundboard. No, really, there isn’t.
If someone approaches a microphone, they might be about to say something.
When someone is putting a microphone away, they might be finished talking.
- Don’t point your microphone toward the speakers.
That loud squealing noise… now you know why.
- Know your words…
Even if you have a prompt screen in the back. Worship leaders and church members have memorized hundreds of songs for thousands of years – you can too. And the message will be much more clearly delivered if you aren’t surprised by the phrase that’s coming next.
- Ask God to eliminate distractions from your mind and keep it focused on Him.
It’s so important to pray before you lead in worship. Remember that you’re not trying to do a good job in front of your family and friends. You’re trying to communicate a message about Jesus and His life-transforming power. It’s unbelievable how many times I’ve allowed myself to get too busy to remember to pray.
Brian Brown is LifeWay Worship’s Manager of Sales, Marketing, Events & Business Development. With LifeWay for more than 21 years, Brian has a passion for worship, numbers and history. He’s well-read. He’s quick-witted. He’s worth following on Twitter @TheBrianHBrown.