Does the congregation you lead in worship know when they are to sing and when they are not? Apparently, in many churches, this is not very clear. This week, a friend of mine asked me to help him understand what is expected of him in corporate worship in a certain circumstance. As we talked, I realized he was directly addressing one of the points I made in my post, Nine Reasons People Aren’t Singing in Worship.

#6  The congregation feels they are not expected to sing. As worship leaders, we often get so involved in our professional production of worship that we fail to be authentic, invite the congregation into the journey of worship, and then do all we can to facilitate that experience in singing familiar songs, new songs introduced properly, and all sung in the proper congregational range.

My friend told me that the singers in the worship team at his church often aren’t clear as to whether or not the congregation is supposed to be singing at a given time in worship. This past week, during one of the songs, a particular worship team member sang a solo while the other team members did not sing and placed their attention on the soloist. The words to the songs were still being displayed on the screen. The congregation was not sure whether to quit singing and listen to the soloist, or to continue actively worshipping by singing the song along with the singer. They were receiving mixed messages.

I see this happen quite often in churches across the world. Having a different singer featured on a certain song or verse of a song enhances the sound of the song. This is certainly something I incorporate in times of worship. The problem in many cases is that the worship team seems to indicate (perhaps unintentionally) that this song or part of the song is not to be sung by the congregation. When a different singer takes the lead and the others cease singing, it would seem to indicate that the congregation should also quit singing–after all, the primary worship leader quit singing.

If that is not your intention, and you want people to continue to sing, then there are some things you can do to keep the congregation actively engaged in worship:

  1. When the soloist is singing, ALL team members should continue to sing, but not on the mics. The fact that people can see you engaged in singing would indicate that the expectation is for them to continue. People still hear the nice sound of the featured soloist, but there is not the confusion of whether to sing or not.
  2. The soloist could give a gesture or verbal cue to invite the congregation to join them in singing.
  3. A brief verbal transition over the introduction or bridge material could encourage the people to sing along.

In making it clear to the congregation that they should continue singing, the variety of vocal sounds can still be utilized without sacrificing participation by the people.

This week, pay close attention to your verbal and non-verbal cues in worship leading. Are you inviting the people to be active participants in worship or leading them to be passive spectators?