About a year after my husband and I starting attending a new church, I auditioned to join the worship team. I had known that I wanted to sing in the group since our first Sunday at the church, but waited until the time was right to pursue this desire.
I sang for the worship pastor, who agreed that I had the skill required to help lead the congregation in worship. Then he asked a question that I wasn’t prepared for:
“How have you been called to the worship team?”
I explained that had felt God telling me to draw closer to Him and this was a way I could do that. The pastor told me that wanting to personally draw closer to God was great, but as a leader, I needed to be sure that I was equally focused on the needs of the congregation; our goal was to help them feel connected to God. It’s not about us.
In a blog post for The Gospel Coalition, Pastor Kevin DeYoung writes a rule that he says applies to 99 percent of churches: “If you look around your congregation and people are barely singing, there is something wrong with your worship services.”
(The exception to this rule is if the church is made up primarily of new believers who simply do not know the songs yet or are not ready to sing such powerful words with conviction).
If most people aren’t singing, DeYoung says your church may be doing one of the following things wrong:
1. The music is too loud.
Can’t hear yourself singing? The music is probably too loud. People are more likely to join in worship if they are able to hear themselves and the people around them.
DeYoung writes, “Cranking the band (or the organ) up to 11 tells the congregation, ‘You’re not needed this morning.’”
2. The music is poor or is being played poorly.
Pick songs that are easy to sing! Many people can’t read music, so pick songs with catchy tunes that are easy to follow. Songs that are too hard to sing, with syncopated rhythms or unusual melodies will just frustrate the congregation. Also, introduce new songs sparingly. Three new songs in one service is not going to inspire anyone to sing.
At the same time, make sure those leading the congregation are competent. The band or choir leading the church must be energetic, as well as able to play and sing well. Nothing is worse than a worship team without any enthusiasm.
3. The people are not taught to sing.
As I mentioned, not everyone knows how to read music, or even can carry a tune. Could your church incorporate a music class for those who want to join in worship, but need some remedial help?
It is also important to explain to the congregation why we sing. In a previous Crosswalk.com blog, I wrote that we are commanded to sing in scripture over 250 times. We are told to “make a joyful noise” and “come before His presence with singing” (Psalm 100:1-2). As Christians, singing is a testimony of our faith.
4. The worship leader has become a master of the congregation, not a servant.
This is the big one. Leading worship is not about us. Yes, you may experience a personal moment with God while leading worship, but you are there to help others feel that connection.
Remember, worship is all about praising God. If your church’s worship feels like a rock concert, you are doing it wrong.
DeYoung writes, “It’s a service of worship, not a concert, a performance, or a showcase for your musical talents.”
Worship leader and award-winning recording artist Philip Renner agrees. In an blog titled “Do’s and Don’ts of Praise and Worship,” Renner says, “...the goal of praise and worship is not to entertain but to usher in God’s presence. Therefore, as worship leaders, we must be more focused on bringing glory to God than on the entertainment value of what we’re doing for Him.”
Your Turn: Has your church made a mistake in worship? Do you have another idea to solve the problem of no one singing in church? Join the conversation in the comments section!
Carrie Dedrick is the editor of ChristianHeadlines.com.