I’ve been hearing a lot of concern about the fact that people are singing less and not engaging in the corporate time of worship at church. Most of the talk I hear seems to be finger pointing and critiquing the current culture of American churches rather than providing solutions that are within our control.
We all want people engaging in worship, but what is really in our control and how can we help people connect through the music? Here is a list of factors that contribute to how people respond and engage during worship in our churches.
Where are they at spiritually? Obviously if they don’t know Jesus they won’t be led to worship Him. But, on the other end of the spectrum, Jesus said that the person who has been forgiven much will love much. It’s all too common for a church person to forget how much grace they have received.
What circumstances are currently affecting their mental, emotional and physical health? There could be a crisis in their life. They may have just gotten in fight with their spouse or kids or friend. They may harbor bitterness toward the church or someone on stage.
What is their church background? Some people grow up in churches where raising hands is forbidden. Others speak in tongues and jump wave flags.
How do they prefer to connect with God? God has crafted us uniquely with different passions and personalities. Not everyone connects to Jesus by standing and singing songs. See “Sacred Pathways” by Gary Thomas.
Does the space they are gathered in help or hinder? So many of us react to our surroundings and allow them to influence our emotions and thoughts. The lighting, size, temperature and smell of the room can all be a factor in whether or not someone chooses to engage, be distracted, overwhelmed, claustrophobic or even disgusted.
Do people feel welcomed and accepted? If I think the people around me are going to judge me based on how I respond in worship then my focus isn’t on God and I’ll play it safe.
Are others engaged? Nobody wants to be the only person with their hands up or singing at the top of their lungs. Most of us would rather fit in and do what everyone else is doing.
How well do they know the songs? If every song in the worship set is brand new then it’s likely the congregation won’t engage. If the average person attends church once or twice a month it’s likely they won’t know a lot of the music even if it isn’t new.
How much do they like the songs? Musical tastes vary. It’s subjective. Not every person that attends our church on a regular basis would choose to listen to the music we play on a weekend.
Is it excellent? This is about the musicianship, volume, mix, EQ, etc.
Do the lyrics make sense? If I have to consult with a theologian or English professor about the meaning of lyrics then I’m not singing. If the lyrics are too mushy or romanticized then most dudes won’t sing.
Are the worship leaders engaged? This is huge. Authenticity is as important as excellence. If the people on stage look like they’re not into what they’re doing then how do we encourage the people in the seats to engage?
Are there any distractions? Lights, moving graphics, people, lyrics being incorrect, camera angles, etc.
I don’t think this list is exhaustive. The point is this: there are many factors to whether or not someone will engage in the corporate worship music we sing at church on a weekend. Some of them we can control – the environment, the culture and the production. We are responsible as church leaders, not just the worship leaders, to create an environment where people can see Jesus and let their guard down; then we trust God to do what only He can do.
Posted in Creative Arts, Leadership