Posted by Craig Borlase on 4 September 2013

You pick the wrong key. The band picks the wrong key. The keyboardist picks the wrong pad. The congregation pick the wrong time to suddenly decide that it’s time to sit down and begin the sermon. Let’s face it, there are any number of things that can throw you off balance when you lead. And sooner or later we all find ourselves with frozen fingers, a blank mind and vocal chords that have suddenly turned mute. How on earth are you going to get out? 

 

1. Breathe

Adrenaline shallows your breathing. Give yourself a break - and your brain some nicely oxygenated-blood - by slowing down and deepening your breathing. Do the 7/11 technique: inhale for the count of 7 then exhale for 11. Repeat if necessary. 

2. Smile

As well as relaxing you facial muscles, smiling has the added advantage of sending a message to everyone else in the room that there’s no need to panic. 

3. Look

Look out around you - to the musicians as well as the rest of the worshippers - and make eye contact. It’ll help draw people in with you. 

4. Remember

This isn’t about you. Whether you freeze like an iceberg or whether you lead with all the grace and ease of a ballerina, it’s not a performance. People are there to worship God, and your job is to lead by example. Whatever’s just happened, you can still choose to worship.  

5. Think

Was it simply human error that caused the glitch? If so, maybe you just need to start again. Was there a technical fault? If it can be fixed straight away, then maybe you can start over, but if there’s a bigger problem - like a broken amp, a bust instrument or a complete electrical failure - you’re going to need a plan B. If you’ve got acoustic instruments, can you carry on with them alone? If you’re fully electric, you might want to go fully a cappella. Either way, you’ll want to pick a simple song that everyone knows and can belt out nicely. You should always have one of these up your sleeve anyway - a ready-to-go classic that you know helps people connect with God.

6. Listen 

Is there something going on here that’s bigger than the technical stuff? Is God at work? Is it a sign that you need to change direction, or perhaps press on with even greater determination? If you think that a radical change is called for, check it over with whoever’s leading the service. 

7. Speak

Poke a little fun at yourself (but never at others), apologise for the mishap, remind people of the key theme around which your songs have been selected… whatever you say, it’s a great opportunity to put people at ease and remind them of the reason for worshipping in the first place. 

 

 

 

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