Fire in My Bones, by J. Lee Grady

Want to receive Fire in My Bones by email? Sign up here
We would honor God if we applied these principles to our praise.

I consider myself open-minded about worship. My tastes in music are eclectic, so I love everything from Hillsong choruses and black gospel anthems to classic hymns and Spanish worship artists Marco Barrientos and Jesús Romero. My playlist even includes Native American, Nigerian and Iranian worship.

I love any music that stirs my soul and points me to heaven, so worshipping the Lord with other believers is one of my favorite pastimes. But there are a few things I’d like to say to worship leaders. Please don’t take these comments as criticism but as encouragement from a brother who has “seen it all” when it comes to the Sunday morning drill.

“In poor countries where people struggle from hand to mouth each week, praise is so energetic that the congregation quickly moves into the aisles to dance. Yet here in the United States our worship is often stiff and way too sophisticated.”

 1. Give us something to shout about! In most countries I visit, worship is an exhilarating workout. In poor countries where people struggle from hand to mouth each week, praise is so energetic that the congregation quickly moves into the aisles to dance. Yet here in the United States our worship is often stiff and way too sophisticated. What we lack in genuine zeal we substitute with technology, orchestration and hype. It’s a pitiful tradeoff.

  Worship leaders must stoke the fires of spiritual passion. Don’t let the people’s hearts remain cold or stale. Exhort them to go higher. Say like the psalmist, “Praise the Lord! …Let the sons of Zion rejoice in their king. Let them praise His name with dancing. …Let the godly ones exult in glory. …Let the high praises of God be in their mouth” (Ps. 149:1-3,5,6) NASB.

2. Please give us content. Most of us packed away our hymnals 30 years ago and discovered the liberty of free-style choruses. Yet I get tired of singing the same phrase over and over—especially if that phrase has questionable theology. And we are cheating people if half of a song consists of lines like “Ooh, Ooh, Ooh!” or “Whoa, whoa, whoa!”

There’s a reason “Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross” is a classic. Its words inspire deep worship in a way that simpler songs can’t. The best solution is to mix up the playlist with both new and old songs—as well as old songs with new arrangements. If we only sing today’s trendy Top 40 we will forget where we came from.

 3. Spare us the concert. True worship leaders lead rather than perform. We want you to play skillfully, but we don’t want the focus to be on you. Point us to Jesus!

 Some worship leaders shift into extended periods of spontaneous worship. That’s great until you look around and realize that the congregation is sitting down while the worship leader has his eyes closed—oblivious to the fact that most people got lost 10 minutes ago. That’s not corporate worship. That’s a stage show.

 4. Don’t run a song into the ground. Maybe this is just a pet peeve of mine: When a worship leader announces, “Let’s sing it one more time!” and then proceeds to sing a chorus again and again and again and again (and again and again), this is a form of lying. This happens especially with certain choruses that are like broken records—they never resolve.

If a song is so repetitive that it’s annoying, or if you can’t figure out when to stop it, just retire it. No one will ask why you don’t sing it anymore.

  5. Please don’t burst my eardrums. I have a high tolerance for noise and I love rhythm. But I have been in churches where the music was so loud that my head rattled for the rest of the day. God can open deaf ears, but I don’t think we should manufacture the deafness. Have mercy on us. God doesn’t want us to drown out the sound of the people’s voices with bass guitars and subwoofers.

 6. Show us the lyrics. Memo to the technical crew: We don’t have hymnals, and we don’t know the words by heart. Please don’t wait until we have sung the second verse of the song to put those words on the screen. (It would also be a good idea to have someone proofread the song lyrics. I was in a church where we were supposed to sing “Praise Him for His mighty acts,” but the Power Point slide said, “Praise Him for His mighty axe.”)

 7. Honor the Word. There is nothing ruder than a worship leader who walks off the stage after the last chorus and then disappears to a side room to eat donuts. When the praise team vanishes from the church and never comes back, it sends a message to the congregation that these people don’t need to listen to the sermon. Not! Worship does not end with the last song; the last song sets the stage for the next act of worship.

  I’m not a worship leader, and you wouldn’t want to hear me on a keyboard. But I believe we would honor God if we applied these principles to our praise. 

J. Lee Grady is the contributing editor of Charisma. You can find him on Twitter at leegrady. His latest book is 10 Lies Men Believe (Charisma House).


Best Magazine Deal. Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Charisma, SpiritLed Woman and Ministry Today, all for $24. YES - I want this deal!

3 Reasons Why you should read Life in the Spirit. 1) Get to know the Holy Spirit. 2) Learn to enter God's presence 3) Hear God's voice clearly! Click Here to draw closer to God!

Did you enjoy this blog? Click here to receive it by email.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
  • Rev. Samuel Rodriguez was the first Hispanic pastor in history to pray at a presidential inauguration.

    At Trump Inauguration, Charismatic Leaders Pray Boldly in Jesus' Name. Is This Foreshadowing a New Day in America?

    It was an amazing day to let religious freedom ring in America.

  • Pastor Jim Garlow in a file photo shown praying.

    Conservative Christian Leaders Gather in DC, Calling Trump's Election an Answer to Prayer

    "Although the news media is predicting protests, what I'm seeing is that everyone is abuzz ...

  • Donald Trump certainly needs your prayers.

    Why You Must Pray for Donald Trump

    Here are eight ways I plan to intercede for President Trump regularly.

  • When I flew into D.C. yesterday, there were so many Secret Servicemen on the plane I wondered what was going on!

    Jennifer LeClaire Releases Urgent Prophetic Warning Over Washington, D.C.

    When I flew into D.C. yesterday, there were so many Secret Servicemen on the plane I wondered what ...

  • Here's a prophetic word for Washington, D.C.

    Prophecy: The Lord Is Raising Up Daniels in DC

    I believe we're on the precipice of a Third Great Awakening the Lord spoke to my heart about in ...

  • Does any of this reflect what's going on in your marriage?

    9 Characteristics of a Healthy Sexual Relationship for a Believer

    A healthy sexual relationship for a Christian couple takes effort, and it's worth working for.

  • Churches don't address this topic affecting women.

    The Secret Sorrow Women Carry

    This woman breaks the silence about a taboo subject to help restore many women.

  • Bishop Eddie Long died at 63.

    Bishop Eddie Long Dead at 63

    "Although his transition leaves a void for those of us who loved him dearly, we can celebrate ...

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit