I was recently talking to a friend who expressed frustration over Sunday mornings in his church. It wasn’t that he had a problem doctrinally, struggled with the leadership or direction of the church. He loves his church, absolutely LOVES his church. Things are excellent except for one subtle reoccurring foible. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’s alone in his discontent. The preaching in many churches may be biblical and exposited well; the music may direct your heart towards a high view of God, and the fellowship is sweet. However, there’s that one awkward moment in the service, and in my friends case, it was happening on a weekly basis. It’s the messed up song projection.
We’ve all been there: lyrics are missing, slides do not advance fast enough, words are hilariously misspelled, slides are in an incorrect order, and my personal favorite is when the words are different for the band than they are for the congregation. I love it, because as a worship leader, I get the craziest stares fired at me. There’s that weird moment when people don’t know exactly what to do and so they start looking around at each other hoping they are not the only ones who notice the major mistake.
So why do I bring this up? Not because I want to promote the use of hymnals (Even though I think they’re great and eliminate this problem, but I’ve already alluded to that here). If your church is using projection to display lyrics, the consistency, clarity and excellence you display those lyrics demonstrates your high view of worship. It does so in several ways.
Correctly projected lyrics indicate:
1. You’re prepared
Songs which are in order and have been thoroughly spell-checked, tell your congregation that your leadership is not haphazard. You have a high view of corporate worship, and you want to give your absolute best to the Lord and His Church. Not everyone will appreciate the hard work that goes into making this happen. In fact, the only time people say anything regarding the projection is when it goes wrong. Paul, however, when giving instructions for corporate worship, tells the church in Corinth “all things should be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40).
2. You’ve thought through what is being sung
I love going through the lyrics each week of the songs we sing. I try not to simply copy and paste from an online source, but read through each and every word. As I read through the words penned by writers from 5 years ago to 500 years ago, I see the truths of Scripture in grand poetic form. Even looking at the punctuation of the lyrics is important. Often I am encouraged and understand the songs I’ve sung hundreds of times in greater clarity, by simply checking the punctuation. Therefore, when I lead the congregation, I know what I’m leading them to sing as they approach the Throne of Grace.
3. You care that the congregation is not distracted.
Nothing disturbs the flow of the service like a projection foible. Think of the congregation as they are invested in singing “Jesus Paid it All” and you come to the verse that says,
Lord, now indeed I find
Thy pow’r, and Thine alone
Can change the leopard’s spots
And melt the heart of stone
You can almost hear the scratch of the vinyl and the music stop in people’s minds, while they ask themselves, “Wait, isn’t it supposed to be ‘leper’ and not ‘leopard’?” The correct word is “Leper” (Matthew 8:1-4; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 17:11-19).
I understand that mistakes are going to happen. They even happen at the most professional levels. However, they shouldn’t be a consistent predictable issue that your congregation is placing bets on.
4. You care that the congregation is engaged in every word they sing
Honestly, I don’t think I’m over stating things by saying your lyric projection is a shepherding issue. You’re demonstrating concern that your congregation knows what they are singing, because YOU know what they are singing. You care about their theology being expressed through song. If you’re carelessly displaying lyrics, why should the congregation be any more invested in singing them?
How to avoid problems in the projection?
- Spend time working on slides BEFORE Sunday morning.
- The sound engineer and slide operator are as much part of the worship team as the singers and band. They need to be part of rehearsals and double-checking everything. The congregation only notices them when things go wrong, so make sure you show them your appreciation every once in a while. I have a high school student who finds a ton of little flaws. I’m so appreciative of his careful eye. It’s always helpful to have a second set of eyes.
- Proof read, proof read and re-proof read.
- Get a hymnal
This isn’t the deepest subject I could write on, but as pastors and worship leaders sometimes we need to be reminded of the simple things in our services that communicate so much. Every aspect of worship is important: from the sermon preached, the songs chosen, to the way the words are projected. We need to do our best in all these facets because we worship the Savior who deserves no less.