The 3 Stupidest Mistakes I’ve Made In Worship Ministry

The 3 Stupidest Mistakes I’ve Made In Worship Ministry
Doug Lawrence

Everyone makes some unintentional mistakes in ministry. I happen to be particularly good at it and could probably build a whole graduate degree program around my vast experience with this rather embarrassing subject. I’m happy to say that nobody died and no buildings collapsed as a result of these errors, but, as folks often say, “I wish I had known then what I know now.”

Number One

Mistake: I used to think that I had to solve every problem or complaint about worship directed my way and I prided myself on being willing to do so. After all, good people care about other good people and want to make things right for them, right?

Reality: The answer is both yes and no. Certainly people want us to address issues that cause frustration. Folks have a right to expect us to at least be concerned and want to help, but, in fact, what they really want is for us to listen to them. Secondly they want us to express our sincere regret that something has impacted them negatively whether it was our fault or not.

Conclusion: You can’t fix every problem, but you can go a long way in healing the level of frustration someone is experiencing by simply closing your mouth and listening to their complaint. If you can fix it, fix it, but it’s your undivided attention that most people desire, not your defensiveness, or even the “power” of your office to solve the problem.


Number Two

Mistake: I used to “sell” my point of view about worship endlessly. I believed that it was my responsibility to inform, enlighten, and change people’s views about sound worship practices. Certainly (I thought), I knew more about worship than they!

Reality: People assume that you know a lot about your job, but they also want to know that you are willing to learn. They want to teach you, but they may not be as articulate as you in describing what they mean, believe, and have experienced in their worship history. So, let them sell YOU. By the way, their history is as valuable to them as yours is to you.

Conclusion: I finally learned that the best strategy for dealing with this situation was to enlist your fellow sojourner instead of trying to win them over! I would research a couple of churches where that person’s perspective on worship might be a closer fit and invite them to look in on a service at that church, then communicate to me and our worship committee about their observations about what worked and didn’t work. Incidentally, their take is very often that they prefer their own church to the one they visited and usually end up affirming what they’ve already got! Enlist…don’t annoy!


Number Three
Mistake: I used to describe worship as a fixed entity, something that had a lot of absolutes and I, well, I knew exactly what they were!

Reality: Every worshipper and every designer of worship is in a learning mode. People who think they have an absolute corner on what worship should be are (and I’m being extremely kind here) self-deceived. That’s why people who define worship by style need to unbury their heads. They barely have a clue, let alone a corner! There are things we do know, but there is much we don’t.

Conclusion: I love to talk with people who feel as dumb as I do and, in the process of that interaction, discover I’m not as dumb as I thought. Worship is largely a grand experiment in meaningful discourse with God. It is not prescribed for us in Scripture in great detail and it is not even well defined in the endless books the subject seems to generate. We should all be involved in stimulating the worship conversation, not spouting endless quasi-definitions of it.


Doug Lawrence, internationally recognized speaker, author, and advisor, helps churches assess and improve their skillfulness in creating engaging worship experiences by utilizing his more than 35 years of “deep trench” worship leadership in prominent mainline churches.

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”

This article “The 3 Stupidest Mistakes I’ve Made In Worship Ministry” by Doug Lawrence was excerpted from: web site. March 2010. It may be used for study & research purposes only.