I’ve noticed something about supervillains recently.
They’ve got massive resources. Their genius is boundless. They always have a carefully crafted plan and focused vision. But still, they’re always brought down in the end by the same thing: the monologue.
You know what I mean, right? They’ve finally got the hero right where they want them, but before they can finish the job, they always pause to give some long speech, inevitably creating just enough time for the hero to come up with a plan to save the day.
There is a moment in the 2004 Pixar movie, The Incredibles, where two super heroes are recounting this inevitable scenario. As the protagonist is cornered, he takes advantage of a monologue moment to create his escape. When the villain realizes what’s happened, he says: “You caught me monologuing! I can’t believe it!”
Whether you’re a worship leader, a ministry leader, or someone who accidentally landed in a church seat after mistaking it for a community college, you’ve probably experienced a little monologue moment in ministry that’s lasted just a little too long. And you know as well as I do that when that happened, much like the hero in The Incredibles, you probably started planning your escape.
As worship leaders, we need to be especially careful when we approach any sort of verbal transition between songs or out of a worship set into the message. We want to avoid the tendency to monologue and risk the potential of our audience checking out on us. One amazing worship experience can be undone causing our students to disconnect in a matter of moments. We want to do what we can to make sure that doesn’t happen because of our own voices.
[bctt tweet= “As worship leaders, we need to be especially careful when we approach any sort of verbal transition between songs or out of a worship set into the message.” username=”Reeseyspieces”]
So if the monologue is bad, what’s better?
Keith Jackson (a name synonymous with football) once remarked that his job as a football commentator was to do four things: “Amplify, clarify, punctuate. Don’t intrude.” In other words, Jackson understood the moment wasn’t about him. His role was to help make what was happening on the field even more meaningful to the audience.
And those same principles are relevant to a worship leader. Now, we aren’t the focus in worship, but we’ve been given an opportunity to help point to students to the One who is the focus. And when we look at our job through this lens, I think we’ll be able to better approach every aspect of what we do, verbal transitions included!
The next time you find yourself leading students in worship and you come up to a transition that requires you to speak, avoid the monologue by thinking of it through Jackson’s lens:
- Is there a lyric that is especially notable or relevant? A line in the song that will help set up the content of the communicator’s message being delivered next? Scripture you can read that inspired the song? Amplify it by drawing attention to it in your transition.
- Is there a lyric that could use some explanation? Is there a way you can better unpack one of the songs? Is this a good time to quickly (under a minute) talk about worship in general? Pick one message and clarify it for your students during the transition.
- Don’t over-punctuate. As worship leaders, we often. Want. To. Punctuate. Everything. But remember, some sentences only need one comma (this one needs two), and your set list might just need one short, well-placed verbal transition. Find that point and punctuate that… and only that!
- Don’t intrude. Is this verbal transition distracting from the service by bringing up an idea that’s not relevant? A four-minute story about how God spoke to you during your quiet time might be nice to hear over coffee, but it’s probably not going to help support the time of worship or the message that follows. Just because its meaningful to you doesn’t necessarily mean it’s meaningful or relevant to your audience. Don’t intrude on what’s happening by over-inserting yourself into the moment.
Worship leaders are in a position to help songs make sense in the story of the service and communicate the weight and joy of worship with clarity. That’s so exciting! But remember often times, the songs you’re playing speak for themselves, and the communicator coming after you has probably spent hours preparing a message. Let those things lead the service as you focus on bringing clarity and enhancing the message that’s already there.
[bctt tweet=”Worship leaders are in a position to help songs make sense in the story of the service and communicate the weight and joy of worship with clarity.” username=”Reeseyspieces”]
Remember, less is more. And a moment is better than a monologue.