10 Ways to Be the Worst Worship Musician Ever

Be the best at being the worst.

At Worship Artistry we're always equipping you to bring your best. Well, here are 10 ways to be the best at being the worst.

10.  Never stop playing. 

Not before the set starts.  Not in between songs.  Not when someone is talking.  Not when someone is praying.  Not even when the service is over and the sound guy has put the background music on.  NOT EVER.  Silence is for players who don’t know the blues scale.

9.  Recognize every song you play is beneath you. 

The chords are too easy.  The riff isn’t creative enough.  There’s not a single augmented chord in the whole thing!  If it was a real song it would include finger-tapping, now wouldn’t it?  Be sure to let out an audible groan when the song is announced so everyone knows it’s lame.

8.  Don’t waste money on a tuner. 

Tuners are for rookies and you don’t want to dull your ear.  If you go out of tune in a set, you can either turn up your volume and tune over the song or better yet, just keep playing out of tune because the musical idiots in your church can’t tell the difference anyway.  Don’t worry about any dirty looks you might receive.  They’re just jealous of your musical superiority.

7.  Take on an irritated demeanor when motioning your sound engineers.

I like to scowl, point emphatically at my guitar and then jam my thumb into the air.  Throwing both hands up in the air with an exasperated shrug is also acceptable.  Just be sure you exaggerate enough so everyone in the congregation knows all your wrong notes are the sound guy’s fault.  Speaking of sound...

6.  Understand that you are never loud enough. 

You can combat this by bumping your instrument volume up a few ticks as soon as the set starts.  That way if you aren’t loud enough in the house mix, the stage volume can overwhelm the house and at least a few more people will hear that raging solo you decided to add to the middle of the chorus.

5.  Make sure everyone knows your time is more valuable than theirs. 

This is easy to do and super effective.  Simply show up to practice late and then wait until everyone else has set up before even taking your gear out of the bag.  Bonus points if you have technical problems once you are set up.

4. Play the wrong part.

Sure everyone else is trying to play as a cohesive unit and counting on you for the hook, but your ideas are definitely better than the hacks who recorded the album.  No need to learn a part when you can just make up one of your own.

3. Find a sidekick. 

You know you’re number one but one is the loneliest number. Choose someone on the team you can crack jokes to, roll your eyes with and keep in a side conversation while your team is figuring out a song.  You shouldn’t have to shoulder all the weight of derailing practice on your own.

2.  Be competitive. 

Your position on the team is the sole basis for your self-worth so you must protect it at all costs.  Be sure to offer lots of critique while accepting none.  Put others down to raise yourself up.  Don’t be encouraging.  If your bass player’s band is recording an album, ask who’s producing it and then comment you’ve never heard of them.  Then talk about your own music career for the rest of the conversation.  Backhanded complements are a plus.  “Nice job on that drum fill.  When I heard it on the record I didn’t think you could land it.  Another week of practice and you should have it." 

1.  Above all, you need to realize is that the worship team is all about you. 

You're a busy person and the team is lucky to even have you.  If you keep this attitude, everything you do will make you the worst worship musician ever.

If after all this you are set on being a good musician, you can sign up for a free Worship Artistry account here and start improving.  Now, what did I miss?


Jason Houtsma is the co-founder and guitar teacher at Worship Artistry, where he is helping musicians of every level answer the call to worship with passion and confidence. Jason has been leading worship and writing music since he was 15 years old and currently serves as Worship Pastor for Mosaic Church in Bellingham, WA. He is husband to Alli and father to Bjorn and Asher.

10 Ways to Be the Worst Worship Musician Ever

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I would add: don't bother coming to practices... you can work it out on the spot! :)



Too True!

No need to trouble with "working it out"....just wing it. Or don't even play the fill\maj7th\2nd, sus4th, 9th\transition\etc.; maybe no one will notice. But if they do, hopefully, the key will be right and maybe it will be "ok" this time. Besides, it's just church; not like it really matters.

Dont sweat the small stuff

You just spent all your rent money on that new pedal. Who has cash to waste on strings, batteries, and picks? That new klon needs a 9 volt? You paid for it. The least the tech guy can do is power it for you. It's a small price for him to pay to hear the world's best guitar chain. Make sure to waste everyone's time during setup talking about it and how it's going to make everyone's worship "deeper" and "fuller." Just like your tone. Only then, when everyone else understands and is ready to start rehearsal should you ask for a battery.


You mean the church isn't paying me in 9-volt batteries?

Few people actually realize

that the sound engineer has the power to make you sound good or bad. Be nice to the sound guy.

Sound Guy

YES! ALWAYS be nice to the sound guy! I'm a worship leader not the sound guy. I would offer that not only are they brothers or sisters in Christ, they most often are not musicians and are simply feeling a God call to serve in a way that probably stretches them, they really are doing the best job that they can, and they really can make or break each musician as an individual in any song, and....they can quit. Where would musicians be without them.


very quiet...

I'm a vocalist who sang with

I'm a vocalist who sang with my church's worship several years ago, but I took on the mantle of "sound guy" (aka Tech Ninja) because that's where the need was in the church and that's where I've stayed for the past 11 years because I love what I do. We probably have 100s of women who sing beautifully but sound engineers are in short supply almost everywhere you go. I would say that your sound guy can, and should, be considered a musician as well because he or she has to take all of the sounds coming from stage and blend them into one distinct sound that allows the congregation to enter into a state of worship. You could run a service without a sound guy, it just wouldn't sound very pretty!

Good stuff!

I Love this, It is late and I was laughing under my breath so that I don't wake up my wife! Now I know what not to do, fortunately I don't think I'm guilty of any of these things...and while I learn to be a better musician and worship leader I now know the 10 most things I shouldn't do!!!

I'm just wondering who that poor guy is in the picture up above where it says " the worst worship musician ever." I hope nobody at his church sees it! :)

I know!

I actually felt terrible using the photo so I tried to use filters to make him less recognizable. The article has is not a statement on his character, whoever he is.

Too funny

I would add:

Be sure to point the cranked up amp you use as a stage monitor right at the lead vocalist. After all, how can they sing a song right unless they can hear your guitar in full on, distortion cranked, glory?

Oh yes!

And it definitely should be cranked. How can I play well when I can't feel the energy on stage?

Include Feed Back by choice to every jam

It's important to stand as close to your amp as possible during the jam section of a song so your sustain turns to feed back. How else will the lead vocalist know when the jam is finished...


Should add,"You wan't to sound super authentic so you go back to the first way of distortion by sticking a screwdriver in the amp, also you get louder!"


Whatever works!

Having been on both sides of

Having been on both sides of the stage, more on the sound side, I really have a hard time with the type of people who are never happy with THEIR mix. It doesn't matter how many times I reiterate that in worship music, the monitors are for reference only (not to recreate the Areosmith experience), they never see the engineer's point of view. I have been called the sound nazi (ala Seinfeld) when I have had enough and say, "no mic for you"!!

The engineer/musician relationship

should be one built on servanthood. Too often things get personal and walls get put up before anyone realizes it.

If you are both working to create the best version of the music, it shouldn't matter if the sound engineer needs you to turn down your amp. It's not a reflection of your playing. Still, I've seen a lot of sound guys (who often are not musicians themselves) go on power trips that don't serve the song either. They take a "You'll take what I give you" attitude which is just as prideful as the musicians.

The best thing we can do is recognize we are both working for something greater than ourselves and that requires laying down our pride and working together.

And let us not forget....

11) Be a gear snob - anything not already in your signal chain is 'too digital', 'too harsh', 'too mid-rangy', 'too bright', 'too dull' - Also, reassure the new guy by reminding him/her "Don't feel bad, I could never get a good sound out of that (guitar/amp/effect) either"
12) Never, under any circumstance, touch a piece of equipment. Period. Setup and take down is for roadies (or the rest of the band). Practice scales until setup is complete and after the service make sure you don't get stuck behind the congregation on your way out - Turn off your amp and unplug during the closing prayer...you should get a clear shot to the door.

(Jason - Great post! And, sadly, all 10 are on my 'Yep, done that' list. I told my mom I wanted to grow up and be a guitar player and she said 'You can't do both'. Ha.)

Triple bonus points....

Triple bonus points if you have the reverb turned up and crash the springs...(and yes, I've done that...)

(Thanks again for your great website - I've been a subscriber for 4 months now and rely on it tremendously!)

You're very welcome.

And that might be the worst sound ever. Done it plenty of times myself but hey, at least you're playing with a real amp.


Ahaaa, Thanks for the wonderful tips. Definitely gonna share it out to my team. Hopefully no one gets offended or anything. (:

As a guitar player

this is basically a list of everything I've done wrong over the years! Most of these apply to everyone on the team.

Dont forget the...

"I dont need to practice. That would quence the Holy Spirit!" Bleeeeeeehhhhhhhh!!!! lol

That's one of my favorites!

You know, cause the Holy Spirit can't possibly move in your practice and preparation times.

I'd like to add a few from the non-musician point of view:

Constantly push people to participate, "Come on, put your hands together", "Sing to the lord", "Let's hear it", "Raise your hands to the Lord"...

Helping the preacher out by doing your own preaching between songs.

Putting that painful expression on your face.

Keeping a fake forced smile on your face.

Jumping around, looking like you are trying to get an aerobic work out in during worship. Sweating doesn't mean better music or worship.

Trying to improve on popular tunes buy adding your own twists, making it impossible for people to sing along.

Trying too hard to be cool. Sporting strange haircuts, coats, hats, wearing clothes too hip and using expressions that a person your age shouldn't be using. You don't have to be a rock star.

Performing not worshiping or praising. Probably means you need a natural, day to day, minute to minute relationship with God of your own.

Insisting on doing your original material.

Believing louder is better,

Thinking that because you are music director, you should be the featured singer every week.

Worst worship musician

I would add, "Make the rest of the team wait while you get your tuning, amp, monitor mix or whatever perfect," as though 20,000 people have paid $75 a ticket to hear you play.

Word of the Day: Servantleadership

The writer's animosity & sarcastic tone is as frustrating as the 10 steps to a DIY Crappy Worship Leader project. I know this is about venting, but I'm pretty sure any worship leader who fits the criteria listed above would respond with some fluffed responses peppered with God & Jesus, followed by a middle finger in your face with a smile. Maybe this is history repeating itself, but in the context of modern worship. Like, maybe all of this criticism is actually the modern version of standard-setting worship leaders getting their undies a knot about about stuff not meeting their expectations. Truth be told, the remedy is Servant Leadership. Maybe the qualities of servant leadership are inherent or maybe they need to be learned, but when leaders put everyone else first, that's where success in leading ministries begins.

This article isn't meant to criticize

but rather be a light-hearted way of spotlighting some habits we may at times get caught up in. For example, how many times as a young musician did I show up late to practice thinking it was no big deal? More than I'd like to admit. It doesn't just affect me. It communicates something to my team. I could have written an article called 10 ways to not be a poor worship teammate but I've found over 20 years of teaching that some humor and satire can be more effective in helping us come to our own realizations. If you'd like to get more of a sense of the heart behind this article, you ought to give some of these others a read.




This article has a particular bias...

Is it just me, or do all of the reasons point to the electric guitarist? :) I think I've done almost all of these in my 17 year growth period as a worship team member.


I'm a typical guitar player who thinks only about myself :)

You know something's up when

You know something's up when they keep making excuses for why they can't put your guitar amp into the sound system.They keep telling you that you can be heard fine though members of the congregation said after that they couldn't hear you at all.oh,that's right...it's not supposed to be about you.

Hysterically Funny

The great thing about my worship group is, we have no one who fits this profile. However, the funny thing is, each of these characteristics in really over exaggerated.

I believe that your talents are on loan from God and that you should explore ways, as musicians & vocalists, to get the most out of your gifts! Think about it, the same passion one would put into their secular band efforts, should at the very least be put into their efforts to play music that glorifies God.

On my quick survey, this

On my quick survey, this article and comment section are in need of some Jesus. He is the perfect example of leadership. How did He lead? By serving. Based on the tone of this article and the comments I read, I'm going to recommend that y'all take some time to pray and ask God to show you how to lead by being a servant. God loves each member of the worship team so much that Jesus laid down His life to make that connection with the Father possible. Ask the Holy Spirit to take hold of your heart and start loving your worship team and leading them by being the lowest member.

Feel free to poke around the rest of the site

This article is way over the top satire to shine a light on ways our bad habits might be perceived. You'll find the spirit you speak of all over everything else :)


I'll bet this was written by a sound guy haha Another good list would be 10 ways to be a bad church sound guy.

Ouch, but yeah...

Heh heh, number nine is the most painful one for me...

I've spent decades learning Satriani stuff, so reducing myself to a 1 bar riff for a few seconds and then being relegated to power chords for the rest of the song is... character building. And even that's assuming that you're the one who's been give the nod to play the riff, given how common it's become now to put two electrics and an acoustic on stage at the same time (?)

Cold hard truth for guitarists in worship teams is that if you're hoping for the chance to impress everyone with a huge solo, you're barking up the wrong tree my friend. In contemporary worship teams (at least at the moment) front row and all the spotlight belongs to vocalists, second row belongs to keys, and guitarists get to sit at the back, keep quiet and look pretty ;)

(and of course, the drummer and the bass player undergird everyone holding the entire world on their shoulders like atlas).

My hot tip for frustrated guitarists:
Find an open mic night outside of church to vent your non churchy musical ambitions at. It's very therapeutic :)

Piano Sheets / Midi or transpose

Hi Worship Team,

By any chance will you be implementing piano transpose music sheets. There are a plethora of incredible music with great voices; however, not every can reach those vocals. Will you consider adding this feature like the guitar?