When Americans flock to services across the nation on Sundays and for mid-week Bible studies, the fellowship wouldn’t be complete without the element of worship. Because the worshipping of God is so vital to Christians’ faith, eliminating the distractions that can inhibit one’s praise has been found to be of great importance.
Dr. Chuck Lawless, professor of evangelism and missions at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, has consulted churches for 15 years, compiling a list of ten distractions commonly encountered inside church sanctuaries across America concerning the music element of worship. After the first listing, Lawless gets more general, giving another ten distractions that take away from the worship experience, listing various components and practices that can divert believers’ attention away from God.
10 distractions from the music side of worship
Here are Dr. Lawless’ findings, which point out the greatest distractions experienced during worship music at church.
1. Incomprehensible choir or praise team words – Worship was intended to be about communicating a message of praise to God, and when the words are obscured, it inhibits one’s fellowship with God.
“I start with this distraction simply because we face this issue so often,” Lawless explains in The Christian Post. “The sound system may be poor, the singers may not enunciate well, or the music may drown out the lyrics — but in any case, we miss the message while straining to understand the words.”
2. Unsmiling faces leading worship – It is a privilege to come before God and worship Him. When a worship team’s countenance communicates something different, it detracts from leading the congregation in making a joyful sound unto the Lord.
“Some solemn hymns may not necessitate smiles, but something is lacking in singing about the joy of the Lord when the singer’s facial expression suggests something different,” insists Lawless, who also serves as the dean of graduate studies at SBTS. “We have seen entire praise teams show little expression as they lead worship.”
3. Poor musicians or singers – Just as churches seek to have the most spirit-led and knowledgeable pastoral teaching staff on hand to best impart the Word of God without diverting from His message, they must also strive to have a worship team that makes worship a joy to the congregants — without members distracting those in the pews by singing off-key or playing off-note.
“I hesitate to include this distraction because I realize the level of talent varies by congregation,” the church consultant shared. “Nor do I want to suggest that only the most talented musicians or singers should be permitted to lead worship. I’m simply stating what we’ve experienced: sometimes the musical component of worship lacks quality.”
4. Unprepared singers – Just as professional singers don’t show up for gigs without practicing, how much more important is it for worship team members to prepare and sing before the God of the universe at church while leading fellow believers in praise to Him?
“Here, level of talent is not the issue; lack of preparation instead appears to be the problem,” Lawless points out. “Sometimes it seems — right or wrong — as if no one practiced this component of the worship service. In fact, we’ve occasionally heard it stated publicly: ‘Please pray for me before I sing today because I really didn’t have time to get ready for singing.'”
5. “Preachy” music directors – Even though God may lead worship leaders to a teaching moment between songs from time to time, setting a routine of mini-sermons during the worship service can work to detract from what the worship part of the service is all about — lifting up praise to God.
“Some folks leading worship do a great job of succinctly and effectively speaking between songs,” Lawless concedes. “Others, though, seem to use interludes to preach a sermon in preparation for the sermon still to come. Too much talking may actually disrupt the worship more than facilitate it.”
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Michael F. Haverluck