I made a big boo-boo recently while leading worship.
The first song of the set had gone very well – “Open Up the Heavens” – the LifewayWorship.com version, of course. The song ended and the band transitioned to the next song.
On the confidence monitor – the one the leaders could see – the scripture setting up the next song appeared, and I led everyone in reading it together while the band was playing the intro into the second song. I should have noticed then that something was wrong since the scripture we were reading was the same one we had read before the first song.
The lyric followed the text and behold – I led us in singing “Open Up the Heavens” with the accompaniment of “Forever Reign.” My wife was standing next to me on the vocal team and she was whispering to me, “This isn’t right, this isn’t right,” as I was going right on.
I was in the second phrase when I thought to myself, “This isn’t right” and motioned for the band to stop. They gladly did since they were all saying to themselves, “This isn’t right…” I made a little funny about the pastor’s singing throwing me off, and we went on with the worship time.
I’ve noticed this about myself. As more and more worship venues provide monitors with the lyrics for the worship leaders, I’m remembering the order and words to songs less and less. I’ve become so dependent on the changing of the slides that if the operator sneezes and misses a cue, I start humming or making up words, even on songs I’ve had memorized all my life. I suspect some of you are having the same problem. What is happening?
We no longer remember because we know we don’t have to remember. Our prep time decreases and we fly by the seat of the operator’s finger in most services.
So, I’ve decided to make some personal adjustments as I go forward (assuming they ever ask me to lead again!). Maybe this will help you too.
- Prepare to lead independently of the confidence monitor. Know the songs completely and have the order of things so engrained that I only glance at the monitor to be sure they are with me and not the other way around.
- Challenge the team I lead to know the music that way as well. If a squirrel takes out the transformer right before the service begins (that has happened to me), be able to lead anyway because of the quality of the preparation.
- Rehearse without the monitors some of the time leading up to the service. This will be a good “reality check” on the level of the team’s preparation – and mine.
- Be “in the moment” of the worship time instead of “in the monitor.” I have to admit, those times I am caught up singing and leading others to sing happen when I am completely released to pour out my soul instead of searching for the next line of lyric at the top of the next slide.
It all comes down to one word – preparation. I don’t ever want to be a victim of the “Curse of the confidence monitor” again.
My wife was right – “This isn’t right.”
Jesus deserves better.
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.