I thought I would write a quick post on two kinds of mistakes that can occur when leading worship, as the topic of how to handle incidents during public worship has come up in several conversations I have had recently, both at school and at church.
The first kind of mistake is the one that everyone knows about. Whether they can see the mistake, hear the mistake, or both, everyone knows that something happened that should not have occurred, or something did not happen that should have occurred.
How should worship leaders handle these moments?
First, go ahead and acknowledge the occasion. Now everyone is one the same page and no one needs to be awkward.
Second, if necessary, tell everyone how the service will move from this point forward. For example, let’s say that the sound system just died. Tell everyone that the service will move forward with voices and acoustic instruments.
Thirdly, acknowledge God’s grace in all situations. In the case of our example above, you might say, “God’s grace extends beyond issues with technology, so let us lift our voices in song to our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!”
Finally, if you are known to have a little wit, a little humor can help in these situations, but do not turn the situation into a joke. Just keep everyone looking to Christ and keep the service moving.
The second kind of mistake is the kind that only those involved with the service or those involved with a particular part of the service know about. These can be really easy to address if allowed.
Just move forward with an appropriate audible.
No announcements necessary, no explanations, no stops in the service. A quick, quiet comment to the rest of the band or other leaders of the worship service may be appropriate, but this depends on what has occurred. Odds are you can just keep going and everything will be okay.
What is certain about this kind of mistake, though, is that the congregation does not need to know about it, and as a worship leader this is good news! You can be a strong leader and keep the service on track while your congregation keeps worshiping the God who has called them together!
Jason Palmer is the Administrator of TalkingWorship.com. He has a Bachelor of Science in Ministry and is currently studying for the Master of Divinity degree. Jason leads worship for Glenn Street Church. He has lead evangelical churches in worship for 9 years and desires to see worship leaders become confident in their calling.