If the congregation isn’t singing, ask:
9. Is the worship leadership inconsistent?
When a congregation encounters a different leader every week, drawing from different kinds of repertoires, teaching different songs, using different bands and leading in a different kind of way, then they become defensive. The worship leadership (even if it’s shared amongst different people) needs to be consistent in repertoire, tone, philosophy and approach, or else the congregation will tune out.
10. Is the melody clear?
Call me old fashioned, but there is a right way to sing a song, and a wrong way to sing a song. A worship leader (and the vocalists and/or choir) should sing the song the right way. They should sing the melody correctly. And the sound engineer needs to make sure that melody is crystal clear. Then the congregation will know what they’re supposed to sing. (Sometimes it really is as simple as this.)
11. Are the lyrics readable?
Whether you project the lyrics, or print them, or use a hymnal, or a combination of different methods, the lyrics need to be readable, in a big enough font and presented at the right time. Badly done projection, late slides, too-small-fonts, typos or all-of-the-above can do more to discourage singing than we realize.
12. Are the people regularly—and literally—invited to participate?
Don’t underestimate the power of consistently saying things like “Let’s sing this together,” or “We’re going to learn a new song together,” or “We learned this song together last week, and we’re going to sing it again now, so please join in as soon as you’re comfortable.” Little phrases—said well—can send a regular message that you place a high priority on the idea of people singing together.
13. Have you prayed?
Pray before you lead worship, with your worship team/choir/organist/instrumentalists, and ask humbly and boldly for God’s help, blessing, guidance and power. Ask God to help your congregation see Jesus clearly, to worship him with freedom and joy, and to give you a heart of love for His people.
14. Have you tailored the arrangements to your congregation?
Serve your congregation by tailoring the keys, introductions, interludes, transitions to them. Don’t just do a certain song a certain way because that’s the way it was recorded. Intentionally arrange a song to serve the actual people who will be standing before you at a given service.
15. Is Jesus at the center?
If our worship is only possible because of Jesus, and if the scriptures really are all pointing to Jesus, and if the Holy Spirit really is always glorifying Jesus, and if the worship of heaven is now and evermore will be centered on Jesus, and if the deep need of every person in our congregation is nothing more and nothing less than Jesus, than the principle responsibility of a worship leader is to exalt Jesus. Choose songs that exalt Jesus. Do everything you can to point away from yourself, your name, your fame, your platform and your presence, and point to Jesus. You will be moving in step with God Himself, and over the course of time, through faithful and pastoral leadership, you will see (and hear) a congregation more enticed to sing to the “heavenly anthem” that “drowns all music but its own.”
This article originally appeared here, and is used by permission.