4. Create Breathing Room

This is a continuation on an earlier post on effective worship leadership. Click here to see other related posts.

An effective worship leader allows worship to breathe. One of the most common mistakes that I see in worship leading is clutter. This clutter is usually created by any or all of the following four suspects.

  1. The room. I come from a tradition that all but ignored how visual space encourages or distracts the worshiper, but I’m learning. I had the opportunity to visit The Journey in Franklin, TN and was impressed by how they incorporate candles, media, and nooks in their auditorium for personal expression (“worship stations”). At the very least, can we put our guitar cases backstage and get rid of junky music stands?
  2. The musician. Dizzy Gillespie is credited with the quote “the sign of a mature musician is knowing what not to play.” This is so true. If everybody plays through the entire song, on every song, and at the same loudness, it not only fatigues the ears of the congregation. It robs the opportunity for emotional connection.
  3. The mix. I know as much about audio engineering as I do about visual space, but I will say that the engineer is an integral part of the worship team and goes a long way to creating a welcoming and inviting environment.
  4. The set. Most worship leaders want to take people on a journey during their worship set. They have a beginning, a middle, and an end in mind. The rub is that most churches don’t allocate enough time for this to happen. The result is a rushed set of songs that we must finish by quarter past the hour. My advice to pastors is that if you want worship to be valued at your church, 15 minutes is simply not enough. My advice to worship leaders is that if you only have 15 minutes, don’t try to burn through four or five songs. Let your set breathe. I’ll take a Spirit-led time where I can reflect on one song over a rushed four-song set any day.

Over to you. How have you seen worship “cluttered” at your church? How do you create “breathing room”? And I’m especially interested in the visual elements you’ve seen that make for a worshipful environment.


About Jonathan Riggs

Singer, actor, songwriter, and entrepreneur. And I like vanilla bean.
This entry was posted in worship, worship leading and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 4. Create Breathing Room

  1. Diane Hurst says:

    For visual elements, I really like when there are fabric-art banners or communion table tablecloths– these can add a lot of beauty and often they are hand-made by church members, which makes them even more special.

  2. Find the Bibles, open the Bibles, read the Bibles, then sing songs about you read in there today. Confess your sins and then praise God for his forgiveness. Good worship, plain and simple. The rest is window dressing.

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