(This post is inspired by Stuff Christians Like, a highly entertaining blog by Jon Acuff. Maybe someday I’ll get to write a guest post for him, but until then I’ll settle for “borrowing” his style once in a while and giving him a little free advertising in return.)
Journey with me to Sunday morning, in the auditorium of your church. The worship leader is cranking out the heavenly tunes with his acoustic guitar, and everyone is singing joyfully along. The third chorus ends, the words for the fourth verse shine forth from the screen, and then – disaster. Instead of moving right into the verse from the chorus like every time before, the worship leader stands there, mouth and eyes closed, and plays through the chords from the chorus one more time. Without warning, he has created a tear in the fabric of the song, a sort of dead space, and left everyone to fend for themselves. In my experience, there are three responses to these awkward pauses:
1. The Early Bird. This guy was really into the song. He’s sung it a thousand times before, the fourth verse is his favorite, and he can’t wait to belt it out. When the cataclysmic pause comes, he sings the first word and a half of verse four at the top of his lungs before he realizes that he is utterly alone in his joyful noise-making. Most of the time, this guy will look quickly down at his feet and fake a cough to cover up his mistaken exclamation, but I’m sure that every once in a long while, an early bird is so confident in his correctness that he refuses to cut off in the middle, and instead blazes through with a rock star solo version of verse four until everyone else joins him for a reprise. I’ve never met that guy, but he must exist somewhere.
2. The Latecomer. She’s been the early bird before, and she barely managed to stop herself this time. Determined not to embarrass herself, the latecomer waits until she’s sure that everyone else is singing before she joins in. After all, the worship leader pulled his nasty dramatic pause trick once, so why wouldn’t he do it again? Maybe this is the Worship: The Musical! arrangement of the song, and there’s going to be two and a half minutes of instrumental music and break dancers before it’s time to sing again. Better safe than sorry.
3. The Champion. This guy has seen it all before, and he knows just what to do. With a cool, levelheaded demeanor and a confident twinkle in his eye, the Champion cuts out perfectly, comes back right on time and right on key, and doesn’t drop a beat. Seasoned champions will keep their triumphs to themselves; they’re used to being awesome at this by now anyway. Less practiced champions, however, will occasionally slip up and do a victory fist pump or even a celebratory dance of joy over their newfound rhythmic prowess (without dropping the tune, of course).
Has your worship leader ever imposed an awkward worship song pause on y0u? Are you usually the Early Bird, the Latecomer, or the Champion?