How to Lead Worship Gracefully When Things Go Wrong

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Leading worship can be unpredictable. Technical issues, forgotten lyrics, awkward transitions between songs, and other mistakes are bound to happen from time to time. As a worship leader, how you handle these inevitable mishaps can set the tone for your team and congregation. With poise and preparation, you can steer through the rough patches and keep everyone’s hearts and minds focused on worship.

Stay Calm

When something goes awry, the worst thing you can do is visibly react. Don’t get frustrated, stop abruptly, or make a big deal of mistakes. Simply take a deep breath, regroup internally, and keep leading as smoothly as possible. Your band and vocalists will pick up on your unflappable demeanor and follow your confident lead. Frantically trying to fix problems will only draw more attention to them.

Cover Smoothly

If you flub some lyrics, keep singing or loop back around seamlessly instead of stopping or backtracking awkwardly. If instruments or mics cut out, gesture patiently for your team and keep leading vocally so the energy doesn’t die. The show must go on, so recover quickly and act like nothing major happened. Your congregation will be none the wiser.

Have a Backup Plan

As the saying goes, the only constant is change. Be prepared for the unpredictable by keeping spare gear on hand – an extra mic, instrument cable, music stand, etc. Also be ready to shift to an acoustic or a cappella version of a song if needed. Your ability to adapt will keep things running smoothly.

Communicate with Your Team

Make eye contact with your team to give musical and visual cues. Provide an encouraging smile or nod if someone makes a mistake. If an issue needs to be actively resolved, give clear but calm instructions. For example, “Let’s take that chorus again from the top” or “We’re going to go right into the bridge after this verse.” Keep things upbeat.

Refocus the Congregation

If you have an epic train wreck of a mistake, it’s okay to acknowledge it with a touch of humor. Say something like “Well, that was a train wreck! Let’s pick ourselves up and try that again.” Then confidently start the song over from the top as if nothing happened. The congregation will appreciate the honesty and most will find it humorous rather than awkward. Keep it lighthearted – laughing at yourself diffuses tension. Don’t belabor the point or try to over-spiritualize the mistake. Just restart the song and keep rolling. Stay positive and act like it’s no big deal. Before you know it, everyone will have moved on and refocused on worship.

Learn From It

Later on, evaluate what went wrong and make a plan to improve for next time. Did your electric guitarist forget to turn on his amp? Add a checklist to your pre-service routine. Was your new soprano overwhelmed trying a tricky solo? Schedule more rehearsals for new material. Stay positive – see mistakes as opportunities to grow.

Things will go wrong from time to time, but that’s OK. By following these tips, you’ll handle mistakes with grace and keep the worship flowing. Stay cool, be adaptable, rally your team, and keep people’s hearts tuned to God. With practice, you’ll become more confident at smoothly steering around those rough patches.

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Keep track of the top CCLI, Praisecharts, CCM and Hymncharts along with lyrics! There’s nothing like this list on the Internet! Go to the Top Songs page.

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From Worshipflow editor Don Chapman:

I like to listen to Youtube videos/podcasts as I drive around and have wished I could find a good, current playlist of all the top worship songs.

I can’t find any! So I made my own on the Worshipflow Youtube channel!

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