You’re standing on stage on Sunday morning. You strum the first chord of the opening worship song. You invite the congregation to worship with you. They enthusiastically join in singing with you. As you close the song everyone is clapping or raising their hands in praise. It starts off well.
Then as you go further into the set you notice that many people are just staring into space. A good many have become disengaged and decide to sit down. It just feels like you are trudging through the set. Well, the audience feels the same way.
Sound familiar? For some praise and worship leaders, it may not. Most likely it’s because they have not opened their eyes. Fear or complacency have caused them to ignore the response of the congregation. They ignore the ones that they should be leading in worship.
I’ve visited many churches over the last few years. I have found this situation to be one of the most common obstacles in a church service. Most of the time instead of dealing with the issue people like to blame the style of music. I have worked with all genres and styles and I have seen disengaged congregations in everyone of them.
The primary job of a praise and worship leader is to usher the people into an atmosphere of praise. Yet what I see are 28 to 40 minutes of one slow song after another. I look around after the first 2 songs and I see most people looking around not engaged. Just like in the situation I talked about earlier I see many just sit down. Yet the worship leader on stage is not noticing this. Maybe they don’t want to notice.
As I’ve talked to some they have told me that it’s because they are busy worshiping. While I get what you are saying that is not your full job description. Your job description is to LEAD others into worship.
You are not leading if people are not following. So now we must answer the question. Why don’t they follow?
The simple reason is that teams put the emphasis on song rehearsal. You also need effort put into stage communication. Most praise and worship bands rehearse the songs but don’t have a vision on how they will lead.
If you are serious about your job to lead people in praise and worship then you need to work on the following…
Don’t be formulaic – You have the same way of doing all songs. For instance, you may start off slow and then do a build up where your guitar and voice get louder for the payoff. That does have emotional content but if you do it on every song it becomes white noise. Learn new techniques and mix it up. David played “skillfully” before the Lord.
Stop singing too many slow songs:
Most modern praise and worship sets that I have seen have been slow to medium songs for the entire set. I know that you are trying to get into an atmosphere of praise and that slow is easier to feel. This is more of a worship set than a praise and worship set. It’s the same speed over and over. Your audience becomes bored by the third song.
Your congregation can tell when you are just spouting some cliched sayings. Relate to your congregation. Have something real to say to them. Pray for God to speak something great through you…and then listen.
My friend Tom Jackson coaches touring bands. He told me taught that they learn to create moments and not just a song list. Don’t just do one song right after another. Put some thought into it to add something special. So try creating a moment’s list instead of a song list. Then you can know how to change it around if you feel led to.
Spend adequate time in preparation:
- Music practice – All the musicians should have the music on their phones. They should practice it at home. Then they will know the songs when the full team gets together.
- Rehearsal – I believe that God honors it when you show up prepared for rehearsal. I also believe He honors the focus time that you put into preparing for the music staging.
- Prayer and Study – How can you lead others into the throne of God if you are ill prepared. Spend the necessary prayer and scripture study time each week. This is the time that God will begin to speak to you about what to say between songs. I can assure you that if you do this you will notice a stronger move of God in your services.
The world beats your people down all week. If you read social media these days you will see frustrated and depressed people. They need a true experience when they walk in your door to prepare them for the pastor’s message.
What are the weakest points of your praise set? What creative things could you do to enhance it?