9 Reasons Why Congregations Don’t Sing

The goal of the Worship Leader in any size church, with any style of worship music,is to engage the congregation in expressing their worship through the music. This is sometimes a daunting task primarily because of the worshipers personal preferences in regards to music.There are however other factors that can prove a hindrance to creating an atmosphere that is conducive to everyone feeling comfortable to joining in. The following is a reprint / paraphrase of a recent article by Kenny Lamm.

1. They don’t know the songs. With the almost weekly influx of new worship songs, along with those from “last week”, Worship Leaders tend to want to use the “latest and greatest” in their next worship service. This leaves the congregation out in the cold simply because it’s too new, and they just don’t know it. We as Worship Leaders need to be wise in how we introduce new material. Dumping several new songs in a single service creates a spectator mentality which we will discuss later.

2. We use songs not suitable for congregational singing. Again, we have to be sensitive to the style, rhythm, and range of a particular song. Just because it’s #1 on the charts doesn’t mean it’s suitable for congregational singing.

3. Some songs are pitched too high for the average congregational singing. This problem crosses the spectrum of church music. Some songs in the older hymnal are pitched too high to be comfortable for the average singer. In today’s Contemporary worship music, we many times present the songs in the artist key. The vast majority of any congregation are not professional singers with wide ranges. We must be sensitive to this.

4. The congregation can’t hear those around them singing. This occurs when the music, regardless of style, is either too loud or too soft. If it’s too soft, people feel self-conscious about being heard and won ‘t sing. If it’s too loud, they can’t hear themselves or others around them and don’t sing, or stop singing. This is an easy fix.

5. Particularly in more Contemporary settings, the “show” crates a “spectator” mentality with the Worship Leader / Team being the performers. The set or staging, lighting, etc. tends to take things to a level that distracts from the worship of God and places it on those on the stage. Excellence, yes. Professional performance – no.

6. The congregation feels that they are not expected to sing. This point encompasses two or three of the other points..Sometimes we get so caught up in our production that we fail to be authentic. We must invite the congregation into worship, and then do all we can to facilitate that experiance in singing songs that are somewhat familiar, new songs introduced properly, and sung in the proper congregational range.

7. We fail to have a common body of hymnody. With availability of some many new songs, we can become haphazard in our worship planning. We can fall in the trap of pulling songs from so many sources without reinforcing them and helping to make them a part of our regular hymnody.

8. Worship Leaders ad lib too much. This occurs in the more Contemporary setting where the Worship Leader or support singers will sing a part other then the melody. The congregation is made up, as we said before, of singers with limited ranges and musical ability. When we stray from the melody too often, they will try to follow, become frustrated and stop singing. Some ad lib is appropriate, but don’t overdo it and lead your “sheep” astray.

9. Worship Leaders aren’t connecting with their congregations. We often get caught up in the nuts and bolts of the service and lose sight of helping the congregation express their worship. Quote  the Bible to promote  their expressions of worrship. Let them know you expect them to sing. Stay alert to how well the congregation is participating and alter course as needed.

Now this article was originally penned to encourage worship leaders as to potential distractions to our worship. But, I use it here to help us all realize the some of the things that can hinder our worship together, and how, together, we can avoid them so that we all may join, as we read in 2 Chronicles at the dedication of the temple, that “They sang together as “one voice”.

Jim Wrenn