Smile: Why Worship Band Faces Matter

Dan Wilt says smiling worship bands are better worship bands:

The songs are joyful. The songs are beautiful. But for a solid 30 minutes the worship leader’s face seems intense with concentration. Wait. So does the background vocalist’s face as she stares at her music stand. Why do I feel disengaged from those on the stage right now – and even from worship?

I’m scanning the stage for one smile, one engaging glance, over 30 minutes… there! I see one! The keyboard player looks up, and smiles! The room lights up.

For that moment, I feel like I am a participant in a community rather than a spectator in an audience.

Is Smiling Disingenuous?

For 25 years I’ve gotten pushback on this one. “Why should we smile? It feels forced, or contrived. Besides, if I don’t feel like it, and if I look up every once in awhile and do it, isn’t it disingenuous – or even creepy?”

No. It’s not disingenuous, contrived, or creepy. It’s leadership. It’s real. It’s community. It’s engagement. And looking up every once in awhile – with some semblance of a smile – will help you engage with God and your community in worship, as well as helping the congregation.

Why Smiling Worship Bands Are Better Worship Bands

First of all, let’s remind ourselves of the radical difference between a worship band and an artist band.

  • The worship band is there for corporate expression rather than self-expression.
  • The worship band is there to encourage us all in our faith, not just to execute the music.
  • The worship band – and every musician in it – is a leader of engaged worship.

A worship band is leading an experience that has to do with all of us. But when the band and the leader are:

  • Fixated on their chord charts
  • Looking continually intense or “semi-lost in God” (ever see the 30 minute, closed-eyes, “yearning” face?)
  • Unfamiliar with the music or feeling tentative and expressing that visually…

…it deeply affects the congregation in corporate worship.

If even one of the band members looks either uncomfortable, awkward, or semi-scared to be up there, it impacts the worship dynamic in the congregation.

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