I used to love the show “Mythbusters.” In fact, I had a couple of managers when I was in retail that used to look (and sound) exactly like Adam and Jamie, which was kind of cool. The premise is that they take a common old wives’ tale, misconception, or story, and try to prove that it can’t happen. Sometimes it was true, sometimes it wasn’t, and sometimes it was a weird in-between classification. I love hearing things about worship leaders because sometimes they are humorously true, sometimes they are wrong, and sometimes they are in that weird in-between class. So let’s look at some worship leading myths and see what comes out of it. And yes, I have a disclaimer. These aren’t always the results, just some common ones. And, by the way, I’ve heard every one of these personally.
Worship leaders only do songs they like
I’ve heard this one more than once. Sometimes, it’s true. Sometimes, it’s not. Take a look at some of my Pandora stations someday. Check my car radio. You’ll find everything but country. And honestly, there are songs in every worship leader’s playlist that just aren’t their favorites. There’s a big “but” right here, though. The worship service is not about the worship leader’s preference, but it is important that the worship leader has a passion for the songs they sing. If you hate a song, it is very difficult to fake passion. It sticks out like a sore thumb in a setlist, and subconsciously everyone knows you hate that song. It feels like it sucks the air straight out of the room. So, while I don’t only do songs I like, I definitely make sure I can get passionate about every song in our catalog.
A worship leader that leads a modern service must hate “traditional” worship
Busted! Well, not always. There are definitely some worship leaders out there that “hate” the other genres. However, most worship leaders that are doing their job well understand that there is more than one way to worship God. It is rare that you will find an older song in a setlist at a modern church service. When you do, it generally is done in a new way. That’s because a new way can connect with a new group of people. For example, I feel very strongly about the language we use in church. Using “thee’s” and “thou’s” as well as other insider-focused language just doesn’t connect. So, if I come across an older song with those in it, it takes a lot to rewrite it. Therefore, since it doesn’t connect well with the lost, it probably won’t make it into a setlist. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use those, but it doesn’t work well in the situation of the church I help lead. So I don’t hate traditional worship. Not by a long shot. I just believe it is less effective at reaching the lost in my situation. Any time we have the chance to be more effective, we should be.
A worship leader will be out of a job when the current style goes away
True, for those who can’t adapt! Some worship leaders tie their job directly to their ability to play the keyboard or the guitar. Those guys are going to be in a world of trouble when the current styles change to something more modern. This statement is FALSE for those who see their job as transcending music. Our job is about connecting people to God, but only sometimes through music. I’ve always told people that when the current style goes away, I’ll be glad to hang my guitar on the wall and pick up…who knows? Accordion? Didgeridoo? Tambourine? It doesn’t matter, as long as whatever it is helps the local church to reach the lost.
A worship leader just uses the church as a platform to gain popularity
This one began coming up hard when worship leaders began recording albums of original music. Again, this is a “sometimes-true” statement. Some worship leaders see the church stage as “free publicity.” Some are using it as a stage before they drop their album or write their book. But some use albums, books, and blogs as an educational tool or worship resource. That’s what I do. I’m not cutting an album anytime soon (or ever) because I don’t feel like I need to. Heck, who would buy it? Probably my mom, but she’d be the only one. But blogs, articles, and books? Of course! I don’t use the stage for popularity, but if it brings an audience to tell about Christ, worship, leadership, the church, and ministry, I’ll use it! So while a worship leader could just be using the church as a stepping stone for selfish reasons, some use the spotlight to bring glory to God.
What are some worship leading myths that you’ve heard? And stay tuned for next week, when I’ll give a shot to busting some myths about worship in general. Should be fun!