Admittedly, this post is somewhat “tongue in cheek” and intended to let us laugh at ourselves a little. I’m calling out some intangibles of our physical expressions in worship we sometimes employ to generate more energy and enthusiasm from our congregations. See if any of these “go to” moves are something you do and ask yourself, “Is this really a distraction?”
Today’s power songs of worship often have a heavy beat featuring the toms of our drum set. For some reason, this groove makes us want to bounce on beats one and three. If you watched a video of this without the sound on, you might think it was some sort of rain dance. This is not one of the moves I use since I didn’t even go to my high school prom for fear someone would make me dance. But I see it all the time.
The Shaking Head
Someone called this out on me years ago, and I’ve been conscious of it ever since. This happens when we are delivering some powerful lyric but while we sing it, we are shaking our head as if we are saying “no.” The person who called me out on it suggested I was cancelling out everything I was singing with my head shake. I still catch myself doing this from time to time and I am amazed how many of us do this almost every time we sing.
The Prompting Lyric or Preemptive Entrance
This one is common. Sometimes we give the next line of song by speaking or singing it to the congregation or, for effect, enter a phrase a beat or two earlier than everyone else. Now for sure, this can be a very effective way to give the congregation confidence, and if employed artistically can add to the experience of the song. But it can also be a huge distraction, especially if we do it all the time. From time to time, I will even hear people talk about how annoying this can be to some people. And, it can even be counter-productive if it gives an uncertain cue to the congregation.
Closing Our Eyes
Like the previous one, this becomes an issue if we do it all the time. Certainly, there will be moments when we close our eyes for a second or two in worship. This only becomes a distraction when the leader seems to “zone out” into a personal space leaving the congregation to fend for themselves. I actually have heard people in a congregation talking about sneaking out of the service during the singing and wondering how long it would take the leader to know they were gone.
Now, go back and look at a recent service and see if any of these were present. If they were, evaluate whether or not they were distracting at all. If so, you might want to address them somehow.
Just be sure you are not bouncing and shaking your head “no” as you do.
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 (checkout his latest book: Worship Essentials). In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family (and his two new grand-babies). Visit MikeHarland.com to keep up with all that Mike has going on.