Unfortunately, many worship leaders in the Church have gained a reputation for not only being long-winded, but also insensitive to the clock during a worship service. Service times get affected, kids get rowdy, nursery workers go crazy, the preacher gets hurried, and everyone gets hungry – all because the worship leader just had to do 9 songs.
Some are oblivious.
They completely lose track of time and don’t realize that they’ve gone on for 45 minutes when the pastor had asked them to only go 20. They send the message that they are undisciplined and unaware they aren’t the only person in the room.
While it is definitely easy to lose track of time when you’re singing, there is a very simple way to get over this: buy a watch. I started leading with a watch on my music stand a few years ago and was amazed at what a difference it made. We’ve also installed a big digital clock at the back of our Sanctuary that I can see and the preachers can see. It’s easier to watch the clock when you’re watching a clock.
Some are arrogant.
They know full well how long they were asked to go, but they choose to go however long they want to anyway. They send the message that they can’t be trusted and that they view themselves as being answerable to no one.
While it can be difficult when you’ve prepared six songs to be told there’s only time for two, the way to handle this is very simple. Only do two songs. Arrogantly ignoring the time allotment and doing your own thing is one sure way to disrespect your pastor and your congregation and in the process grieve the Holy Spirit. There is a time and place to discuss how many songs will be sung, how much time will be allotted for music, etc. Once the decision is made, be a team player and a humble servant by doing your best to stay in the time limit.
Worship leaders (of all people!) should be willing to serve – in whatever capacity and in whatever time allotment given – with joy and humility. Make an effort to find out exactly how much time you have, and roughly how many songs you’re being asked to lead. Once those parameters are set, do your best to stay within them. Yes, God is at work in our services in ways we cannot always anticipate. But God is also at work in our planning and will lead us as we prayerfully seek to bring him glory and watch the clock at the same time.