Church, Music, and some other stuff

What Nickelback Can Teach Us About Worship


I’m sorry, but this was too funny

It’s becoming more apparent in our culture that being a famous band or singer is becoming less and less about creating great music and more about an image that people think is “cool.” I chose Nickelback as an example, but there are plenty of “radio-pop-megastar” artists that could fit into this. And before you think I’m just going to bash Nickelback for this whole post, please read on.  As humoring as it is for me to pick at Nickelback, I’m not doing that today…a lot.

We, especially musicians, love to criticize and mock terrible music and their fans, but those artists are still the ones with millions of fans and millions of dollars. Whether you think their music is garbage or not, there are still people out there enjoying it.

So what’s my point? And what exactly does this have to do with worship music? Well here it is, and you may want to read it over a couple times because you may never hear another musician and worship leader say this again. The music is not as important as we think!

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a huge advocate for excellence and doing things to the best of our ability. In fact, encouraging others to excellence is part of the reason I started this blog. But far too often we get so wrapped up in the music and forget about what’s more important.

Many times after a set that I hit a bad note or did something terrible wrong, I’d ask a friend of mine if they heard it. You know what the answer is 99% of the time? No. So you tell me that I was freaking out about something that no one even noticed? Now if I had been asking a musician if they noticed, I might have gotten a different answer. That’s why I wrote the post on overcoming the Musician’s Curse for musicians.

The same way a Nickelback fan loves Nickelback, and is clearly totally oblivious to what is going on musically, is the same way that people worship.

Joe sitting in the third row of your congregation just lost his job and doesn’t know how he’s going to support his family. I can tell you that He doesn’t care what your music sounds like. Nancy in the back’s husband just left her for another woman. I bet she doesn’t care what your music sounds like. The Johnson’s have been praying for a child and just found out that medically they aren’t able to get pregnant.  Do you think that great sounding music is what they need?

This is my point. These people just want to experience the love of Christ. They aren’t going to notice or even think twice about what the music sounded or sounds like. It’s important to keep this into perspective when we lead.

So this is what we can take away from huge celebrity rock/pop stars. 95% of the world is not a musician and doesn’t know a thing about music. People react to an image far more than music. And although we are in church and dealing with worship music, the image we portray is still much more important than the music we play. And that image is Jesus. (or should be!) Stop getting more wrapped up in the music, than you are with Jesus.  Because Jesus changes lives, not music.

What ways have you been able to keep you and/or your band’s priorities in check when it comes to worship?

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  1. Megan Gentleman
    Megan Gentleman10-20-2013

    Wow, this is insanely good and thought-provoking. I’m an 18-year old keyboardist and worship leader of a youth group of about 100, and our band’s core idea is that Jesus is center stage. Sometimes, however, being the band leader, I focus on whether or not I played my part correctly, or better yet: that even the electric guitarist is playing his lead correctly. There are so many things that distract me from worship WHILE I’m trying to help lead people into worship, but the idea that some of these people are not even going to remember whether or not I pressed the wrong note while playing a certain chord/part is something that I’ll definitely have to keep reminding myself. Thanks so much for this!

    • Shalon

      Hey Megan, thank you so much! I wish this was something I would have been taught when I was 18. You’re gonna do great things!

  2. Sarah

    I agree that non-musicians will not hear mistakes or care about the complexity of a song, but they will definitely care if they don’t hear their favorite song again, or if the band doesn’t play songs they can easily follow. Our band used to play new songs more frequently as we mistakenly believed that the audience would become bored, but we found the opposite is true; that not playing familiar (albeit rudimentary or easy) songs means you lose part of your audience. Audiences go to concerts to hear their favorite band play their favorite song over again. So even though I agree that the image we portray is more important than the music we play; choosing the right song (even at the right time within a set) can also have an impact.
    Also, there are more sleeper musicians than you think, I would say more like 75% of the world are oblivious to Nickelback. *sigh*

    • Shalon

      That’s very true, in part. You will loose a spiritually immature audience if you don’t play their favorite songs or songs they know. It all goes back to leadership though. Is the leadership teaching them what true worship is? If it’s not, then yes, you will be stuck playing the same songs every week because that’s the only time they will “worship.”
      I’ve been a part of countless services where you could beat 2 sticks together and everyone is going to worship no matter what.

      • Espn

        Dag nabbit good stuff you whaneerspippprs!