Sing With People – Not For Them

Leading worship is an incredibly humbling role in the church. It’s more than music, more than being on stage, and more than strategic leadership. In worship, we have an opportunity to meet with God in his presence and give our all in praise and thanksgiving.

It’s ultimately God’s spirit which connects with people, but since Bible times, songs and music have been important tools for this.

Few things build unity, community, and help evangelize the lost in church services than a passionate-singing church. Group singing, both collectively and individually, “gives” to God in worship.

Of course, there are times when a presentational song can help move people to worship through inspiration and reflection. Those times are welcome too. But when you’re inviting people to sing in worship, don’t sing for them.

Here are a handful of checkpoints to consider:

Eliminate distractions.

Work hard to make it easy for people to sing. The volume of the sound should be at such a balance that people don’t mind singing (if they are afraid of being heard) and so that people can hear the collective congregation singing in general. Other distractions may include lighting – at times, dimmer lighting can help people feel more confident about singing, but it all depends on your situation.

Choose songs carefully.

In your planning, choose songs that are singable in keys that are good for the average person. Radio versions of modern worship songs are often too high for a smaller congregation. Typically speaking, the larger the crowd and bigger the space, the higher the key can be. Don’t feel bad about lowering a key a bit – songs are tools and they work for us. Secondly be careful about how you introduce new songs. If we want people to sing, they have to know the songs. There are numerous ways to do this, but one principle is to try to never have more than one new song at a time. Sing it for a while and see if it clicks. For a long time now, I’ve led worship with the goal of singing the song that is already in people’s hearts. [read: The Power Of Moments In Worship]

Encourage verbally and visually.

Invite people to sing. Instruct when needed. Give people the freedom to do it. Encourage people with words and actions. The better prepared the worship band is, the better they are able to visually lead people. If we want the congregation to worship passionately, we must model this from the stage. Do your best to “represent” your congregation on the stage. And free up at least one person from a mic stand or instrument, so they can visually lead the church.

Step back at times.

I’ll often step away from the mic for a final chorus or soft, but building bridge so the congregation can hear themselves singing. Be sure to either plan these times or have a signal worked out so that all the vocalists do this at the same time if you’re going to do it. You don’t want one person cranking out a harmony part loudly in the mic and that be the only thing going! Another thing I encourage our worship team to do is to sing the whole song whether you’re on the mic or not. For example, maybe the vocalists are going to come in on the second verse, but instead of standing there close-lipped, it might be more inviting to the congregation to see the whole team singing even if they aren’t on the mic. When the second verse comes up, the other vocal simply raised the mic, steps forward and joins in on the sound system.

Work hard on flow.

A final aspect to singing with the church and not for them is working to make sure the flow supports congregational singing. The flow of the song lyrics that are projected must support people singing – make sure the words are being shown at the proper pace. Standing and sitting is another aspect to the flow of the service – we want people to be able to engage in worship and singing without interruptions that don’t support it. [read: 5 Foundational Components Creating Great Flow In Worship]


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Other Posts:

Sing Confidently For Maximum Engagement

Ten Ways To Mentor Worship Leaders

The Power Of Moments In Worship

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