Many worship leaders unconsciously do little things when they lead worship that annoy the congregation. On their own, these little things might not be such big deals. But added up, and experienced Sunday after Sunday, small annoyances can equal big resistance, as the worship leader can begin to grate on the congregation and cause them to take a more defensive posture so as to not be further annoyed.
Before I list some of the top annoyances I’ve observed, let me say one very important thing: be yourself when you lead worship. There’s nothing more crippling as a worship leader than the fear of what people think about what you’re wearing, how you sound, whether you prayed articulately enough, whether you tied your shoes tightly enough, if you played a G instead of a G2, if they think you look stupid, if you don’t have a good enough voice, etc. Be yourself.
But having said that very important thing, let me continue to make my point. If you do things – consistently – that are annoying to your congregation, they will begin to resist you. Here are few examples:
Unpredictably changing the rhythm and syncopation of the melody
Sing it like the recording. Sing it like people will have heard it if they’ve heard it elsewhere. Don’t add in your own syncopation (or removal of syncopation in some cases) because you want to give the song personality. It throws people off. It makes them want to stop singing.
Adding “and” pre-buttals
“And here I am to worship / and here I am to bow down…” “And how great is our God / and sing with me…” “And our God is greater / and our God is stronger…” Seriously, stop with the “ands”.
Singing with a weird affect
I posted a video on this last year to demonstrate what I mean. Don’t put on a grungy voice when you sing if you don’t naturally use a grungy voice when you talk. Sing like a normal human being and people will feel more at ease trying to sing along.
Using cheerleader phrases
Except for rare (and I mean rare) circumstances, phrases like “come on!”, “let me hear you!”, “you’re sounding good!”, “that’s some good singing!”, and “get on up!” should be banished from your lips.
When you pray, don’t use the kind of voice you’d hear on an R-rated perfume commercial. It makes me blush.
I shared some thoughts on this in previous posts here and here. If you repeat songs too much, two bad things happen: first, people find themselves wanting you to shut up. Secondly, you become the boy who cried wolf, and when you really do (and should) want to repeat something, it doesn’t have the effect it should because the congregation is so tired of repeating everything.
Keeping the intensity level up all the time
Whether it’s your singing or playing, you can’t keep it all intense all the time. Calm down from time to time.
The best ways to discover your little annoyances are: (1) ask your spouse, (2) if you don’t have a spouse, or even if you do, ask a close friend, (3) listen back to yourself without skipping or muting, and (4) watch videos of yourself. Keep in mind my first point about being yourself, but do watch out for little things you might be doing that could equal big resistance.
For more on this, I posted several years ago here on different “ticks” worship leaders should remove. I’m preaching to myself too!