How to avoid getting caught looking at the lyrics during praise and worship
So maybe you’re like me and didn’t grow up with a “church home.” You attended sporadically but usually didn’t commit to one particular place for some inane reason, such as “they don’t have a coffee shop” or “their youth pastor looks like a walrus.” But then, something clicked, and you found the church of your dreams. You started attending regularly and started enjoying yourself, even looking forward to going to service every week with one tiny exception.
Praise and worship time (henceforth referred to as p & w and pronounced as “p and dub” should you choose to read this aloud to all of your friends and family).
I’m not knocking p & w. It is the only time that you can sing at the top of your lungs without fear of retribution and mockery of your, shall we say, tone deaf voice. However, p & w separates the church men from the church boys; it’s when you really get a sense of who has grown up in a church and who was a little late to the party.
A lot of newfangled churches have planned for this by putting the p & w lyrics on screens that surround the praise team. This is all fine and dandy, but if you’re trying to get in good with the lifers, you don’t want to be caught reading the screen. If that sounds like you, then you’re in luck.
Over the course of many years and many churches, I have developed a few methods that allowed me to look at the lyrics for the p & w songs without being busted by my new friends…or making it seem like I’m intently studying members of the praise team.
The “look to the heavens” method: In this one, you flick your eyes upwards, as though looking to the heavens because you’re so overwhelmed by God’s goodness. This gives you the benefit of looking super spiritual and letting you sneak a peek.
The “locking eyes with the praise team” method: Performing in front of people is nerve-wracking, even for the best p & w pros. Sometimes a reassuring smile from a member of the congregation can give them a boost and let them know they’re doing a good job. So what if you just happen to be able to study the lyrics for a second? You’re encouraging someone, and doesn’t that matter more than anything else?
The “study ahead of time” method: This one involves doing a little prep work, but the payoff can be big. Before you start attending a church regularly, begin listening to your local Christian music station.
I live in Nashville, which just happens to have two of these stations. Try to contain your jealousy. If you don’t have a local station, listen to one of Nashville’s stations online. Once you’ve listened to the radio a couple of weeks, you’ll start realizing that you sort of know the lyrics to some of the songs. Once you start attending church, you’ll realize that they use some of the songs that you already kinda know the lyrics to.
You can mumble your way through some of the songs and still come out okay. Also, most churches use a Chris Tomlin song at least once a week (mine used two during last week. Two! That’s 66% of our p & w time!), so learn a couple of his big hits, and you’re golden.
The “choosing the church that has released a praise CD” method: Again, this one involves prep work, but if used with the last method, you can come into the church looking like an expert. Buy the church’s CD and start listening to it whenever the Christian radio stations have a commercial break.
The “join in December” method: This one is pretty self-explanatory. Most churches will rely on a heavy dose of Christmas-themed praise and worship songs during the month of December, so if you join then and consider yourself a Christmas music aficionado, you should be able to coast into the New Year without any problems.
If you use one or more of these methods, you’ll be a p & w pro faster than you can sing the chorus to “Our God is Greater”!
For more great writing from Amber, check out her blog.