A good live worship recording can be pretty powerful, can’t it?

Heck, any live record can be powerful.

It gets tricky with worship records because we listen to them and love them and we decide that a song is just too awesome to ignore and we schedule it for a Sunday service. We’re gonna’ rock that song!

But you don’t lead to a crowd of thousands (most likely).
And no one is editing your songlist after the fact to make sure stuff stays in tune and in time.
And there’s a good chance that the powerhouse tune might just fall flat when you do it on Sunday.

Here are five things to remember about live CDs.

So some worship leader at a megachurch decides he wants to end their worldwide hit ballad on the II chord. It’s clever and odd and an entire arena erupts in a applause.

Ever try to do one of those in your church? What happens? They stare at you and do nothing. (Unless one of those worship junkies decides to give you a mercy clap.)

Big crowds create lots of room for random musical directions. When you listen to a live worship song, focus less on “this is so cool” and more on “how would this go over in my place?”

A good rule of thumb is to NEVER repeat the bridge as many times as the live CD. It will not work, gang. At the live recording, the room was filled with people who would sing that bridge for two hours. Your room may be filled with distracted souls trying their best to honor God in the midst of very real and very hard lives. Lay back on all the repeating.

Remember right when the band hits that last chorus on your favorite live record and the worship leader leans back and screams, “Say!” Or maybe that really coo, emotive girl laughs in the middle of songs or says “ya ya ya” into the microphone a lot?

You gotta’ learn to listen for things that are going to be stupid when you do them at 8:45am on Sunday morning. It’s an acquired skill, but you can get there.

Remember – you’re the person that has to explain why you’re doing a new song called “Winds Of The Righteous” or “The Fall” or some other such weirdness.

The guy on the CD doesn’t have to do that, but you do. Put these live songs into your own local framework and try to guess how much explanation and direction the songs are going to take. If you don’t understand why a line in the song says “Justice like fire will wash us cool and clean”, maybe skip that one.

Just because the CD says “live” doesn’t mean your 5-pc. band can pull it off. There’s some size and power that’s been added after the fact and if you’re not prepared for it, you’ll end up really discouraged at how weak and hollow the song sounded when your team did it.

It ain’t their fault.

Your turn…hit the comments below and tell us the last time one of those live “hits” failed miserably at your church.



  1. Pingback: STOP DOING DUMB THINGS, PART 3 « toddwright
  2. johnnydrummer

    Is selling a record as “live” when every track is fixed or overdubbed something Christians should do? Discuss.

  3. toddwright

    That’s a fantastic question. Hope some of the readers weigh in.

    I’m trying to think of some other “post production” equivalent. Maybe a magazine that uses Photoshop claiming a produced issue is a first draft?

    Not sure how it would look in other artistic contexts, but you pose a very interesting question.

  4. johnnydrummer

    I’m not even against the fixes per se (though I think you should just play and let it be human and live) but it’s selling it as if it’s a documentation of a real event. No it isn’t. So there’s somewhat of a deception going on.

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