My congregation sings better than they did a year ago. I’ve been their worship leader for just over a year, and I’ve seen progress in their participation in worship through singing. They sing louder; they sing more heartily, and more of them sing than a year ago.
This realization occurred to me as I was reading an article on the decline of congregational singing, and it caused me to wonder why we’re not part of the trend.
Here are 10 things I did not do over the past year that I think has helped our congregational singing:
1. I did not turn down the lights.
Too often worship services look and feel like concerts. The problem is that concerts are for listening, but worship services are for singing. Keep the focus on the congregation, not just on the stage.
2. I did not turn up the sound.
Loud volumes prevent the congregation from singing. If they cannot hear themselves sing, they will not sing. If they cannot hear their neighbor sing, they will not sing. If they can hear both, they will be more likely to sing.
3. I did not try to sound like the YouTube video.
These videos can be very helpful teaching tools. Watch to learn the melody and style, but then turn them off and don’t go back. They’re generally produced as concert settings, and they’re not your musicians. Let your musicians be who they are and make room for the congregation’s part.
4. I did not try lengthy or frequent instrumental solos.
I like a well-placed instrumental solo, especially if used strategically to help the congregation think about a Scripture on the screen or to simply “breathe in” the text they’ve just sung. A “Selah” moment can be helpful, but too many of these and/or long solos tell the congregation to check out. It’s like saying to the people, “This is not about you.”
5. I did not try the newest worship songs.
We need to give some of these new songs time to prove themselves. I like trying new songs, but only after I’ve seen some staying power in them. There’s also a threshold in a worship service for new songs. More than one new song in a service is risky. A new song each week is too much. Protect worship’s familiarity. That’s perhaps your greatest aid to congregational singing.
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SOURCE: The Gospel Coalition