A lot of worship leaders are under the impression that in order for people to “really worship”, then the words to the songs must be projected. Projecting lyrics can become not only a non-negotiable, but also an idol. PowerPoint will make our service more alive! MediaShout will get people’s hands in the air! Song sheets are the enemy!
I’ve come to learn that sometimes, song sheets can be your friend.
Now don’t get me wrong – I prefer projecting lyrics to printing them for several reasons. Here are just a few:
- It gives me flexibility to make last-minute changes
- It allows people’s heads and eyes to be lifted up
- It frees people’s hands to be expressive (as the bible encourages)
- It saves money by reducing the cost of paper, copying, and ink
- It makes lyrics easier to disseminate to large numbers of people
- It prevents waste of un-used paper
- It avoids the problem of not printing enough copies of the lyrics
- It helps promote unity in the congregation by physically pointing people in the same direction.
Most worship leaders would agree with those pro’s of projecting lyrics. The problem is when the pro’s of projecting lyrics blind us to the con’s.
The cons range from the practical:
- The ceiling is too low
- The church can’t afford a laptop and projector
- The room is too bright
- The sight-lines aren’t good
- You’re leading in an open field
To the pastoral:
- Some members of the congregation have threatened to leave if a screen ever appears in the general vicinity of the church
- Projecting lyrics is more of a distraction than an aid
Worship leaders need to be able to be honest and objective enough to know when projecting lyrics would be a hindrance to people singing to God. In those instances, song sheets can be your friend.
In what we call the “main sanctuary” at my church, projecting the lyrics is a no-brainer. The screens, projectors, and computers are all permanently installed in the room and easy to use. But in our “historic church”, a civil-war era colonial-looking building, there aren’t any screens or projectors installed, and until we find a way to do that without disturbing the beauty of the space, projecting lyrics requires a good deal of work. After a couple years of going through all that trouble, I finally realized it was more trouble than it was worth. Deciding to just go ahead and use song sheets has been incredibly freeing.
Sometimes if the song sheet is for a home group, or a staff meeting, or an informal gathering where I’m just leading a couple of songs, I’ll put the songs on one half of a 8 ½ by 11 piece of paper. This way I can get two song sheets out of one piece of paper, and it’s not very big.
Other times, if the song sheet is for something more formal, like a healing service in the historic church, we’ll put a nicer looking heading on top of it so that it feels more official.
Here’s how I format the song sheets to make them not only readable but pleasant to read:
- 12 or 14-point font
- A readable font that has a bit more character than Arial or Times New Roman. Not too much character to be distracting, but just a little bit
- Bold-ed song titles
- Italicized chorus
- 8-point font for the copyright information at the bottom of each song
- One 6 or 8-point line between the sections of the song
- Two full lines of 12 or 14-point space between each song
It’s totally fine (and understandable) to prefer projecting lyrics to printing them. I certainly do. And I look for ways to make rooms more conducive to doing so, since I think the advantages of projecting lyrics are worth some work. But, from time to time, the advantages of printing the lyrics are too great to overlook.