How to eliminate lyric slide mistakes in worship

I cannot stand lyric slide mistakes in worship. Sometimes words are spelled wrong. Sometimes slides are late. Sometimes the lyrics are completely wrong. Whether your church uses ProPresenter or Proclaim presentation software, in this article, I’ll share some quick tips to help you eliminate these common mistakes so that your congregation is focused on worshipping Jesus rather than tackling the poor guy or girl sitting behind the computer. 

Question of the day: What presentation software does your church use? Let me know in the comments.

As a worship leader, I try so hard to eliminate all possible distractions during my church’s worship gatherings. One area that I am particularly passionate about is making sure lyric slides are 100% correct throughout worship. If worship were a concert and our congregation was supposed to sit back and listen, lyrics wouldn't matter. But congregational participation is a huge priority in my ministry. The number one way to help or hinder their participation is with the lyrics we display throughout songs.

Here are some quick tips to eliminate some of the most common mistakes with lyrics in worship.

1. Import your lyrics from CCLI Song Select.

Both ProPresenter and Proclaim presentation software allow you to link your CCLI Song Select account so that you can import the most accurate lyrics into your document library. Do not google lyrics and copy and paste them into your presentation software. Chances are the lyrics you pull from random websites will have many mistakes. While CCLI is not always perfect, it is the most reliable source for worship song lyrics and will help prevent misspellings.

2. Make intentional line breaks.

There are multiple ways to break up lines of text onto different slides. Maybe you have two lines of text per slide or 6 lines of text per slide. Make sure you are mindful of how the song is sung as you do this. Think about the cadence of how different lines of text and phrases are sung. Breaking up lines of text and phrases or combining them in strange ways can make it confusing for the congregation to sing. Think about whether or not the way the lyrics are presented on a slide give an accurate sense of how they should be sung.

3. Arrange your slides, so the lyrics operator only needs to press the next button.

When building your song lyrics document in ProPresenter or Proclaim, arrange the slides so that they reflect the exact order the song will be sung. For example, if the song order is verse 1, chorus, verse 2, chorus and so on, your slides should be arranged that each section of the song will come next rather than having your lyrics operator skip around. If the chorus repeats five times in the song, make sure it repeats five times in the lyrics document arrangement. ProPresenter makes it easy to build out the different song sections and then assemble unique arrangements. The only button you want your lyrics operator to press is the “next” arrow on the keyboard. Making them skip around will definitely cause mistakes.

4. Require your lyrics operator to practice during rehearsal.

Clicking the advance button on a computer may not seem like the most important or difficult job in worship, but believe it or not it takes practice to get good at it. Make it a requirement for your lyrics operator to show up to rehearsal, so they are familiar with the songs and the timing of the slides. 

5. Automate ProPresenter or Proclaim with Ableton Live.

The only way to guarantee perfect lyric cues in worship is to automate your presentation software with Ableton Live. I started implementing this a few years ago, and I cannot remember the last time I’ve had a late or missed lyric cue in worship. Once you’ve created lyric cues for an individual song session in Ableton Live, you can save those lyric cues and weekly prep is a matter of dragging and dropping the song into your Ableton setlist. You can also automate motion backgrounds and all of the other actions that the software can do. If you are interested in the gear and software required to do this, download my Lead Worship with Ableton Toolkit.

Those are my five tips for eliminating lyric mistakes in worship. I’d love to know what presentation software your church uses, so let me know below in the comments.