“Are we ready to have fun this morning?” … the answer is, “Probably not.”
Worship leaders are often the first people guests will hear from after sitting down for worship. So what are they hearing at your church? Author and pastor Jared Wilson (JaredCWilson.com) suggests 10 popular phrases that may be working against you and why. “Don’t take this too seriously,” he says, “… except maybe do!”
1. “Are we ready to have fun this morning?”
The answer is, “Probably not.” Nobody goes to church to have a bad time, of course, and I’m sure plenty of people go to “have fun,” but is this the point of worship? Is “having fun” where you want hearts directed as you lead people to exalt God? No, it’s where you want hearts directed when you’re just trying to “crush your set” or “rock it out for Jesus.”
2. “How’s everybody feeling?”
If I wanted to stretch to justify this statement, I could say that what you’re asking the congregation to do is self-reflect on their spiritual condition and present their real, whole selves honestly and submissively to the glory of Christ as you lead them in adoration of him. But my guess is that 9.9 times out of 10 what you’re really trying to do is get people to say, “Woooooooo!”
3. “You can do better than that!”
Or some other form of nagging about how we’re not singing or participating to your liking. It’s never really on my mind at a church service to think of ways to impress the worship leader.
4. “I can’t hear you!”
Well, maybe turn the volume down. We can’t hear us either.
5. [Introducing a hymn] “Here’s an oldie we dusted off.”
Please don’t apologize for leading us in the old song that is theologically rich and doctrinally solid. Apologize for not leading us in them more often!
6. “Rockin’ worship.”
I know you’ve got a good drummer and amps that go to 11, but referring to church music as “rockin’”—or using the phrase “rockin’ it out”—is somewhere in the category of fanny packs and duck-face selfies.
7. “Lord, we invite you to be here.”
This is the worship leader’s equivalent of “asking Jesus into your heart.” I think I know what the phrase means, but it reveals something about our thinking related to worship. For instance, is it true that God is summoned by our worship? Or is it actually the other way around? He calls us—we then respond in worship. God isn’t a genie and worship isn’t like rubbing a golden lamp. Nor is he a cosmic butler to be summoned. Don’t invite the Lord into a space like he doesn’t already own it and isn’t already there.
8. “God showed up.”
Again, I think I know what is meant by this phrase. It can be a way of saying “we felt emotionally touched during the music time,” which can be an OK thing—it would be weird for Christians to never feel engaged emotionally in worshipping God—but it can also be a way of equating emotional reactions with God’s presence in an unhelpful way, in a way that inadvertently communicates to people that when they don’t feel good, God must be absent.
9. “Let’s give God a hand.”
Translation: I would like to hear some applause.
10. “Turn to your neighbor and _____________.”
There’s really nothing wrong with this approach, but as a socially awkward introvert, this kind of instruction is a huge heaping bowl of panic attack soup.