Worship Leading Choose Your Own Ending (Part 1)

You’re on stage. Fingers deftly sliding down from the 17th fret as you end the big, driving anti-solo. You hit your TC Nova delay off so that the delay continues to trail into sweet oblivion from your incredibly gut-summoningly well-placed notes, but does not delay further the big chord you are about to hit, finishing off the worship with the tonal glory of a G chord into a Top Hat Club Royale pushed onto the verge of breakup by a BJFe-modded Klon with Toneczar knobs running at 14.9 volts. (Your DD20 is still on, though…turning off dotted eighths is an absolute death sentence for people’s connection to God through the music.) The church is in harrowing suspense. You have pushed worship to its crying point. You know there will be applause after this one. Your fingers move to the chord fingering. Your shoulders contract into the ‘I’m-a-rockstar-but-don’t-look-at-me-it’s-all-for-Jesus’ pose for the Herdim pick strum. Here it comes. And then…………

……you hear it. The worship leader has just accidentally prayed, ‘God, in this place today, You worship us.’ He stops. Sweat is pouring from his Kevin Max-esque locks, dripping over his Top Gun shades, and onto his 1980’s running shoes. His face turns whiter than it normally is. His whole body starts to quiver, so much so that the capo shifts back onto the proper fret. He tries to say something, but his lips freeze. He’s done.

You close your eyes, but only for a split second. You know what must be done. It’s in your capable hands now…the moment you’ve been waiting for. With the speed, dynamics, and agility of a British-made Vox AC30 with a modded tone-stack, you…………

A) Grab the microphone and quick say something about ‘the nations rising in victory’ (doesn’t really matter what you’re talking about, or if you clarify that you mean ‘God’ or not……just as long as you use the terms ‘nations’ and ‘victory’) to distract the congregation with their own spontaneous applause and ‘Amen’ chorus in response to the magic worship words…

B) Grab the trem bar and do some reverse-hand finger-tap face melting so that no one remembers what he said because they’ll be too focused on you (sure, you’re taking the fall for him, but you’re also showing what you can ‘really’ do, but choose not to each week because of your fantastic level of humility)

C) Turn on more delay

D) Take the microphone and calmly announce that due to blasphemy and the constant lack of proper sheet music, you’ll be taking over all subsequent worship duties at the church

E) Drop to your knees, lift your hands in the air, and sing the chorus again accapella, pretending that you were so engrossed in worship that you didn’t hear the worship leader’s phrase slip-up, so that everyone knows who the ‘really’ pious one on the team is

F) Chuckle openly

G) Still hit the big G chord, but not before also hitting a Hermida Zendrive, MJM London Fuzz, 2 Way Huge Green Rhino’s, and a vintage ProCo Rat (with original LM308 chip, of course) in order to effectively drown out any more accidental heresy that may subsequently come out of the worship leader’s mouth

H) Play the ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ intro. No reason.

I) Realize that no one is going to remember anything else about worship that day besides what the worship leader just said, and turn your amp up to 11. And once you’re there, you just gotta Van Halen it…

J) See that no one is going to pray after worship (which is unthinkable, of course), take the microphone and show off your spiritual gift of ‘prayer warrior-ness’ (which you absolutely just know is in the Bible) and proceed to give the prayer the worship leader always should have given, complete with lots of forceful ‘in Jesus’ name’s’ (which everyone knows are the magic words to get God to do something……couldn’t possibly be that John 14 is talking about actually checking yourself to make sure you’re praying in Jesus’ will), and more ‘nations’, ‘rising’, and ‘victory’

K) Try to catch the eye of people you know in the congregation and mouth, ‘Did you hear that?!’

L) Walk up to the worship leader’s pedalboard and take your Analogman Bi-Chorus back (he doesn’t deserve it now)

M) Throw down your guitar and cower behind the drum shield in case there’s a bit of a lightning episode

N) Close your eyes and let the feeling of it actually being the worship leader who messed up and not you, just wash over you like a warm blanket of validation. Then chase that feeling.

O) Have the Matthew 18 ‘if you’re brother is in sin’ talk with the worship leader, right there on stage

P) Go over to worship leader’s pedalboard and turn on his delay pedal. I don’t feel the need to explain further.

Q) Be very glad you’re not leading worship this week, and come back to give whatever you got to God the next week

And by the way, this is not actually a ‘serious’ post. I shouldn’t have to clarify that, but…… 😉 If you’re taking more than 8 seconds deciding on an ending, take a break, go listen to some Fleet Foxes, read some verses from your Bible, drink some non-alcoholic sparkling fruit juice (if you’ve yet to discover Izze’s, I’m convinced that’s what ‘Lovers in Japan’ was written about) while watching ‘What Not to Wear’ (that’s seriously a good show!), and come back. Oh ya, and you can’t choose ‘Q’.


36 thoughts on “Worship Leading Choose Your Own Ending (Part 1)

  1. I would take away the worship leaders DOD Grunge pedal, thinking that it somehow affected his brain/thought/speaking pathways…..hopefully this solves the problem.

  2. If I could pick all of those, I would. I, however, would have to pick F or the secret option R, which is to look ever at the drummer and share in a raised eyebrow and the thought that even less people are going to notice you are, unfortunately, the bassist, which is the third most underappreciated member of a band. Knowing me, I’d pick F, followed by M because that lightning might be headed for me for engaging in option F.

    I have suspicions that you gathered that last paragraph from a trip to Starbucks.

  3. Matt–lol I know it did with me! hehe Oh, wait…I was using it on bass, not to lead worship. Aech. I don’t want to think about that. 😉

    Keith–my sentiments exactly. lol 🙂 Good form.

    Don–absolutely! 🙂 Good choice, my friend.

    Vince–good call! I like that ‘There might be a ghost’ song. Is the rest of the album good, as well?

    Colty–lol Yes! The special moments the team gets to have with each other when the worship leader or pastor says something questionable. lol That’s awesome.

    And ya, unfortunately Izze’s are at the ‘society says it’s hip and indie’ Starbucks. But they are quite wonderful. And I gotta give Starbucks props for really good atmosphere. And are Fleet Foxes at Starbucks now, too? Bummer! I felt so cool when I found them…and they were all underground, but good, and I found them! And then the next night they were on Letterman. Hopes of me being cool were dashed. hehe If they’re in Starbucks now, I’m really not cool! 😉

  4. F and/or K FTW. Does that make me a bad person? =)

    Oh, and Band of Horses is really, really good. BTW, you owe it to yourself to check out Built to Spill if you haven’t already.

  5. Haha wow. Please tell me this was purely a hypothetical situation because this is by far the funniest thing I have heard of in a long time. This is too funny (in a not so funny kind of way of course haha). Well I know the right thing to do is obviously H. However, if I were in that situation I would have given into option F followed closely with K. I just have a thing for laughing at inappropriate times.


  6. Your job as an electric guitarist is to blindly follow the worship leader. If he says God worships us, you yell, “WORSHIP ME” and start smashing equipment. Not your own obviously, but you’ve probably taken notice that the bassist is using a squire and the keyboard has the word “synthesizer” on it. This is a good time to hit the synthesizer with the bass.

    No one will even remember what the worship leader said. You’ll be his goto guy for life, even when he makes it big.

  7. Phillip–haha Yep…despicable. 😉

    I’ll have to give Band of Horses another try…I remember about a year and a half ago really liking the single, but then I did the Barnes and Noble 30 second demo thing of each track on the album, and it didn’t grab me. I’m going there right now to try again. 🙂 And Built to Spill? I’m on it.

    J–yes! Another vote for H! 😉 hehe But ya, K and F are the ones I’d probably do, too.

    And yes, this is hypothetical, but it was inspired by an event a couple weeks ago where someone kept singing after the last song as I was ending with prayer, and I was distracted because it sounded like it might be tongues, and there was no one interpreting, and I was wondering if I might need to say something to diffuse it; and in all that thinking, I heard myself pray, ‘God, we pray that You would be changed.’ And I literally had to stop for about 5 seconds and then just say, ‘Hey guys, I just said the worst thing ever. Sorry to kill the mood, but I gotta start this prayer over.’ hehe 🙂 So hypothetical, but unfortunately based on true events.

    Rhoy–lol And probably me, too! hehe

    Mike–an elegant, and yet still quite complete, solution. You get rid of cheap gear and endear yourself to the worship leader with one swift motion. Good form, sir. 😉 hehe

    Tom–winner. lol If this really was a ‘choose your own ending’, you’d turn to page 72 and it would just say, ‘The end.’ 🙂

  8. oh no, well I don’t know about the rest of you, but sometimes you just mispeak, and its just part of being human. hopefully the leader wouldnt be killed for it (not literally)

    I was leading worship in mexico one sunday, and afterwards I was trying to let everyone know that So and So was moving after church and they needed help carrying stuff, except that I substituted the wrong word in spanish, and bascially said they needed help sh–ting stuff (literal translation). That was embarassing. But they just laughed it off, luckily.

  9. Kenrick- Haha, my mischievous translator we had during mission trip last year taught me that word. He also told me the wrong name to the plaza we were going to. Perhaps fortunately, we were not going to La Pinga Plaza like he said we were… 🙁

    Karl- Yeah, they were in Sbux a few months ago. Wilco is in there now, so there goes them. God love Starbucks…ruining the concept of Indie for decades.

  10. That whole wang bar thing has become one of my favorite expressions. Anytime one of the guitar players plays something that’s too heavy with effects I’ve started saying, “That guys pulling a Kaiser…”

    Then there was the time my best friend and pastor started preaching and said, “the Holy Spirit descended from the heavens like a dove and sh*t upon Jesus’ shoulder…”. I think he was trying to say “sat”.

    It was time for the demon and the wang bar again at that point.

  11. True Story: My brother in law is a pastor at a very conservative church. He was using Charlie Brown and Peanuts to emphasize a point in one of his sermons. When he came to the word peanuts he said penis instead. His wife turned blue and the deacons setting on either side of him were red in the face trying to hold back a laugh. And his face turned white. Very patriotic. 🙂

    As far as options, I’d choose F,K and M. But P is the only sure thing. He probably didn’t have delay on when he said it. Serves him right.

  12. Kenrick–haha Great story! Ya, definitely the best thing to do is laugh it off…and in one of my above comments you’ll find that this was ‘inspired by true events’, and that I did have to just indeed, laugh it off. This post is again, just for humour, and an excuse to throw in some little cliches that our minds might jump to if the situation ever happened, even if we wouldn’t want to admit it; and admitting certain tendencies is the first way to break them, and become better at what we do for God. 🙂

    Colty–haha I did see Wilco in there! Man, I gotta start finding some new indie bands! Is Bon Iver cool anymore, or no? hehe I’ve been liking Townes Van Zandt lately…but I think that may be a bit too country to be cool…blast! So hard to be indie these days.

    Tom–lol Yikes! Bet the congregation loved that one. We’ve had our pastor misquote Malachi 3:10 as ‘bring the whole tithe into the whorehouse’. hehehe That was pretty awesome.

    But you’re so right…almost nothing beats ‘like a little demon came out and grabbed the wang bar.’ Wow. Of course, there’s always this old classic (sorry that you’ve probably seen this before, but it was only a matter of time before someone posted it):



    Mark–that’s rad! Wow, it’s crazy how much little stupid slip-ups become magnified on stage.

    But what is even more awesome is that you chose ‘P’. I am so with you, brother. 😉

  13. You know, I think some worship leaders take things too seriously and leave the spirit behind. I’ve seen situations where they are so concerned about how the songs start and end, or flow from one to the other that the actual song doesn’t get practiced. Explanation: we don’t want this to seem like a performance or concert because its about worship. (this is probably an entire discussion unto itself) When you get too concerned about how it will be perceived by people instead of playing for One, you’re bound to have slip ups. This writeup, however, was awesome and made me laugh – a LOT!!

  14. Jamie–good point!! Sometimes those mistakes do come from focusing too much on other things besides worshiping God, and leading the congregation in worshiping alongside us. And then sometimes…hehe…they just happen anyway. lol I’m always amazed that God still chooses to use me; I think He could do a better job on His own. hehe Great comment, bro!

  15. hmmm.
    Not sure what I’d do. Probably just turn everything up and start playing like the rapture is about to happen.
    Either way, great post.

  16. Sean–haha Sweet! Up to 11 and then just crank. lol Great comment!

    Wilfried–haha We think alike, my friend. 🙂 I mean seriously……delay. Why should we have to say anything else? hehe

    Robin–hehe Thanks, brother! So, I guess that means you’d choose option F, then? hehehe

  17. I once listened to a worship leader talk himself into a logical black hole. I couldn’t wait to hear what he would say next. He must have realized his misstatements and simply broke into tears.

    In the early 1990’s I attended a song-writer seminar at a Hosanna-Integrity Music worship conference. We got some inside information that was easily worth the cost of the conference: if we were considering submitting a song to them it had to include the word ‘nations’, but only in the 2nd or following verses.

    Good stuff.

  18. Dan V- I’m curious, what was the worship leader talking about that lead him into a black hole of tears? Also, that is really awesome and terrible about the songwriter’s conference.

  19. Dan V–that’s awesome! Maybe that should have been an option…just start crying as if you’ve hit on some new worship theology that is so deep, it only ‘appears’ to be heresy to everyone else. lol

    And actually, when I mentioned the ‘nations’ stuff, that’s largely due to a conversation you and I had years ago. So, I have to give you credit for that one! But then I started seeing it everywhere. There’s literally certain catch-phrases that you can say and get an ‘Amen’ or a clap or a hand-raise 95% of the time. Very interesting. hehe

    Awesome comment!

    Colty–I guess I’ll have to let Dan answer that one, because I have no idea. But even though you weren’t talking to me, just didn’t want to make you feel left out. What’s up, brother?! 😉 hehe

  20. Karl- Actually, I’m really stoked because I’m signed up for a songwriter’s competition. I play four songs with just vocals guitar and violin and I’m really excited about it.

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