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5 Barriers to Great Worship

Earlier this year I led the MCA Worship Team through a study called “5 Barriers to Great Worship” (by Jon Nicol at The idea was that there are very simple barriers that can hinder our effectiveness as a worship team. If we can locate these barriers and simply correct them, then we can maximize our effectiveness as a Worship Team. The 5 barriers that we looked at are:

  1. The Zombie Barrier -when the worship team physically looks like they would rather be doing anything other than leading worship
  2. The Not-Enough Barrier -when we feel like we can’t be effective because we don’t have enough musicians, talent, tech people, money, space, equipment, etc
  3. Lack of Commitment -when we are just going through the motions instead of actually investing ourselves into the program
  4. Poor Preparation -when we don’t take the time to prepare both individually and as a team.  This is a barrier because you can’t lead well what you don’t know well.
  5. The Monster Song List -when we have so many songs to sort through that there is no opportunity for repetition, memorization, and heart application

Overall, I believe that the study was beneficial and I believe that we, as a Worship Team, are growing in these areas.

Now I want to turn the table just a bit.

It is true that our job as a Worship Team is to lead the congregation in worship of the Almighty God. This is nothing short of a privilege, and we want to do it as well as we can. But what about the congregation?  What is their role as members of the body who are being led in worship?

I want to propose a congregational version of “5 Barriers to Great Worship”.  These are 5 barriers that can hinder your worship, regardless of how well (or how poorly) the Worship Team is doing:

  1. The Zombie Barrier -when the congregation physically looks like they would rather be doing anything other than worshiping the Lord (think yawning, texting, and checking your cuticles -Yes! I consistently see all three on a typical Sunday morning.)
  2. The Not-My-Style Barrier -when we feel like we can’t worship because the music is not in the style that we prefer. (Confession: I personally do not like all of the songs that we sing, but I appreciate all of the songs that we sing.)
  3. Lack of Commitment -when we show up late and feel like worship is something that the Worship Team does, instead of recognizing the Worship Team is simply leading us ALL into worshiping God together (roughly 40-65% of our congregation shows up DURING the music time each Sunday.)
  4. Poor Preparation -when we don’t take the time to prepare both individually and as a family for church.  (This could be anything from lack of praying for the service, lack of praying for our hearts prior to the service, or lack of getting to bed and waking up at a reasonable time.)
  5. The Me Song List -when we expect the Worship Team to play all of our favorite songs and refuse to try to sing anything else. Please remember that the Worship Team is trying to serve the congregation and that particular Sunday morning service. Many songs are selected specifically because of the content of the morning sermon. Singing is a Biblically ordained way of preparing our hearts to receive what God wants to speak to us. The Worship Team is not an iPod or a jukebox. We are simply tools in the hands of God.

Our desire as a Worship Team is to serve our congregation so that we can all worship God together. It is very difficult to do that well when there are barriers standing in the way. Now that these barriers have been located, let’s see if we can correct them and experience the kind of worship that is fitting for the King of kings and Lord of lords.




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