Give-Me-a-Break Worship Leader Phrases

Worship leaders have a bad habit of saying things on the platform – to a large group of people – that they would never actually say in real life. I call these “give me a break” worship leader phrases.

If you said them to friends over dinner, they would look at you like you were an idiot. If you said them to someone riding in the car with you, they would assume you were trying to be funny.

But you (and when I say “you” I mean “we”) say them when you’re leading worship (because part of your brain has shut down apparently) and you expect the congregation to gleefully respond as if they were equally as brain-impaired.

Here are the top four give-me-a-break worship leader phrases that I’m aware of in existence.

1. Do you love Jesus today?
Seriously? Are you gauging my love for Jesus based on how long and loud I say “yeah!”? If I don’t say “yeah!” does that mean I don’t love Jesus? Would you ever say this to the dude changing the oil on your car? No. Well he might be in church today and you just made him whisper “give me a break” under his breath.

2. Are you glad to be in the house of the Lord?
There are several issues with this one: First, is “the house of the Lord” a term for “church” that most people understand? I don’t think so. Second, what if I’m not particularly “glad” to be in it? Maybe I’d rather be at home watching Football. Aren’t you just expecting everyone will happily respond “verily! Verily! Mine heart doth rejoice in this glorious morning of fellowship with my brethren!”? Give me a break. (Note: related phrases are “how we doing this morning?” and “are you ready to worship?”)

3. Come on!
This one is usually barked, and usually comes at the beginning of an upbeat song. Cue the drums, electric guitar riff, and worship leader offering some variation of “come on!” or “come on church!” or “do you love Jesus today? Come on!”

Imagine serving as the usher at a wedding. Instead of greeting a guest with a smile and a welcome and a word of greeting and an extended arm, you stand 20 feet away and yell “come on!” How will that make the guest feel? Welcomed or yelled at? Yelled at. When people get yelled (or barked at) they get defensive.

4. That’s some good singing, church!
I can proudly say I’ve never used this one. And I’ve not heard worship leaders use it an awful lot. But when I have heard worship leaders use it, I inevitably want to scream. Here’s the problem: people (hopefully) aren’t singing to you or for you. I know you’re just trying to encourage them, but this one just makes it seem like you’re a third grade music teacher congratulating your students on how they sang their state capitals song so well.  

I’m sure there are more that I’m forgetting. Please share them. My point isn’t to pick on worship leaders, since I often say things I wish I had phrased better! Rather, my point is to encourage us to not say things to the congregation that we wouldn’t say to friends in our living room, or that we wouldn’t want to have said to us if we were in the congregation. Be humble, be confident, and be yourself.

4 thoughts on “Give-Me-a-Break Worship Leader Phrases

  1. Peter June 14, 2011 / 4:42 pm

    You left out “Sing it like you mean it.” 🙂 One of my favorites from a WorshipGod conference. The leader is struggling and it turns from iMag into him dialoguing with himself. Very well done. Think it was either 08 or 09’s conference that did it, but a good video.

    Could probably add the “Let’s give it up to the Lord” when people start clapping (mostly due to a purely emotional response in my experience). Of course, that’s a tough one in many cases anyway. Some people will always clap after just about any song.

  2. Cyrus W. June 14, 2011 / 9:07 pm

    Oh man..I’m pretty sure I’ve said #2 several times recently and never thought anything of it. Heh, thanks for pointing this out!

  3. Matt Blick June 15, 2011 / 3:14 am

    I thought Peter was refering to an actual Worship session! Yeah I remember that skit. My (least) favourite one is when a worship leader prays at the end of a session something like

    “Lord, thank you for being with us. Please continue with us as we hear your word”

    Subtext: “God we know that you really only turn up for the exciting singing bit, but please stick around for the boring sermon too”

    I have to say that the leaders at our church are generally pretty good at avoiding these kind of phrases in worship. It’s the announcements that drive me nuts though. I even resorted to putting most of our cliches in a song to give me something to do during the announcements rather than biting on the chair in front…

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