How To Mess Up Worship (And Blame Others For It)

Ever planned one of those worship moments that, in your mind and on paper, was destined to be “sheer awesomeness”? But then, because other people were involved in executing that moment, it tanked. Completely.

Or, at least that’s why I thought it tanked.

This happened to me awhile back. I had planned a “talking moment” that contained some scripture and a brief teaching on a worship subject. It was to flow between two songs with an instrumental underscore. Seamless.

I wrote a basic script and gave it to the individual who was to do the teaching with several days lead time. I asked him to use the script as a guide and to tweak it to sound natural for him. I even worked with the keyboardist who would be underscoring it.

So the Sunday service came and I was part of the congregation watching my well-planned moment unfold. Unravel, actually.

As the team was finishing the song before the teaching moment, I looked a few rows over at the person who would be leading the teaching moment. He just sat there. The outro finished, and he still just sat there. The worship leader prayed, probably to cover the moment, and he *still* just sat there.

I began to try to Jedi levitate him to the front. The force was not with me. He just sat there. When the amen came, he finally started walking up to the front.

And I was sweating like I had just tried to mentally resurrect an X-wing fighter from a Dagobah swamp.

Once he finally got to the platform, instead of just moving to into teaching, he told us what we he was about do—instead of just doing it.

“We’re now going to have a short teaching time where I will be…”

Seriously?! He finally got through his preamble and started into the teaching. And that “tweak it to sound natural for you” thing? Forget it—he just read my script. Except when he added own thoughts. Generously.

Halfway through this “moment” I realized I wasn’t hearing the keyboard. I found out later that she was indeed playing. The sound tech had muted her channel. Not sure why. But since she was using in-ears and Avioms, she had no clue that she wasn’t in the house.

And to make it all just a tad more awkward, my lighting guy lit up the house like a sports arena, killing any chance that the atmosphere might help redeem this moment.

As the teaching moment finished, I was thankful to be moving on.

Except we didn’t.

The acoustic guitarist took it upon himself to try to start the next song with the keyboardist. The rehearsal notes said “piano starts this song.” The keyboard couldn’t figure out where the guitarist was at, so there was this elongated intro of the same chord being strummed over and over, till the leader finally just started without the piano.

Just kill me now.

Later, I did a mental postmortem on that moment, and here’s what I concluded: it was on me. I’m the one to blame, ultimately.

Sure, there were other people culpable for parts of that mess. But as the worship planner, I could have been more clear about what I expected: with the sound tech, the lighting tech, the person who did the teaching/reading and the worship leader.

Our transitions and moments need to be planned. But when other people are responsible for them, we need to be extremely clear if we want them to turn out like we planned. And we have to make sure every person involved is informed and really understands our vision.

So this was a learning thing. And a chance to have a few crucial conversations with others. Ugh.

For Discussion:So what have you planned that went entirely south, sideways or just plain schizo? And in hindsight, what could you have done differently? Love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.

Jon Nicol