OK, you may wonder, “How would Mike know that?” Well, simply because I’ve made them all (and many more). So, with a heavy dose of humility, here goes…
- You will care more about the songs and how they go than you do about the people and how they are doing.
If your focus on what you are doing causes you to walk past people without being interested in them, or be overbearing on the technical crew or the musicians, or be so unapproachable that no one even dares to speak to you, you’ve lost the whole point of why we lead churches in worship. Never forget: we are not leading music – we are leading people. Always value them above all.
- You won’t allow enough time in your morning routine to spend quality time in prayer and reflection before the service.
No matter how much you prepare ahead of time, the morning can get away from you quickly. Make a time of prayer and reflection the first thing you do, not an afterthought. It might mean that you are home on Saturday nights early and in bed earlier than usual so you can make Sunday morning a special time of personal reflection and preparation in prayer. After all, that’s where the real power comes from.
- You will not spend enough time reviewing the lyrics in the presentation software before the service starts.
You might have a foolproof system for accuracy in the projection of lyrics. Chances are, you don’t. Involve other people in the process and work ahead so that you can always be 100% sure everything is correct. Proofing is not a hassle – it is a necessity if you want to avoid unnecessary distractions in worship.
- You will not pay enough attention to the tuning of the instruments.
You never seem to have enough time for a sound check before a service begins. Part of the reason is you didn’t rehearse enough leading up to the day, and your sound check has to become a rehearsal. Often, the loser in this is that the instruments never have enough time to lock in with accurate tuning. Be stubborn about tuning with your instruments. Failure to do so will have a negative effect on the entire worship experience of the church.
- You will forget to prompt your leaders spiritually before the service begins.
In your haste to get the choir going, the band in place, and the monitors running, you will forget to share a scripture or two or a word of encouragement and even a prayer that reminds your leaders why we are here and what their responsibility as worship leader is. You wouldn’t dare sing a song without a warm up or a run through. Why would you start a service without an appeal to your team for spiritual focus?
- You will be pre-occupied with your responsibility and will miss the flow of what God is saying through the preaching and teaching of His word, in the times of prayer, in the ministry of other leaders, and in the response of God’s people.
The centerpiece of any church is the Word of God as it is taught, preached, and sung. Musicians, if we’re not careful, can become so wrapped up in our part that we fail to follow what God is saying through our pastor and other leaders. We can become isolated from what God is doing and saying in the rest of the church. Be the Pastor’s most active listener in the entire church.
****Personal PET PEEVE Alert****
In my opinion, it is a mistake for musicians to leave the worship center after the music portion of the service – even when leading multiple services. I personally make it a point to be up front and actively listening to the entire service every time I lead. The obvious exception is when responsibilities (like teaching a class) require your departure. In those cases, it should be widely known where you are going and why you are exiting early. Going back to the music suite while the pastor preaches – even if you’ve already heard the sermon – sends the wrong message about your view of God’s Word preached.
- You won’t take enough time after the service is over to reflect on what happened in the service and how that should inform the planning of future services.
We move on to the next thing so quickly that we often fail to learn anything from the previous service. Spend time with your leadership or staff and reflect on the previous worship time. What you fail to learn from can become a pattern of mediocrity that will mark your future. The best leaders are the best learners.
What mistakes have you made that you would add to this list?
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.