I understand that this post may be more for worship leaders who are struggling to get their congregation to engage but this also may give those who are attendees of a church a better understanding as to why we worship leaders do what we do! My hope is that whoever is reading this would get a greater understanding of the relationship that is built every church service from the worship team, the congregation and God.
1.) Put your hands together
One way to really get your church to engage in worship is to (for the lack of better words) give them a job. If you are a church that generally starts with a fast song I would say to pick a moment in the song to provide an opportunity for the congregation to clap their hands. This gives them a sense of ownership as they contribute to the overall worship atmosphere. One disclaimer is that not everyone in your church will be gifted in the area of rhythm so make sure to keep your headphones in to stay on the click to avoid a musical crash and burn.
2.) Take a step back
One thing that has really been a great tool for our team is to plan moments throughout the worship set where we take a step back from singing in the microphones and let the congregation carry a chorus or a bridge. At Valley Christian, we have found that these moments work best when only a few musicians are playing during down moments in a song. When the congregation has a chance to hear themselves worship it creates cool opportunities for them to lead their souls into a new level of ownership. Together, we become one unified choir lifting our worship to heaven.
3.) Sing out a new song
It can be found 8 times in the Bible where we are encouraged to sing a new song to the Lord. These are the ones I have found. Psalms 96, 98, and 149 states “sing to the Lord a new song.” As does Isaiah 42:10 “sing to the Lord a new song” and Psalm 33:3 “sing to him a new song”. Psalm 144:9 adds its voice to the chorus, “I will sing a new song to you, O God.” Revelation 14:3 states “And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders.” Lastly, Revelation 5:9 “And they sang a new song.”
Something I have found to really lift the level of faith in our worship set is to plan a moment to encourage our congregation to sing out a new song to the Lord. We lead them to reflect on what the Lord is doing in their lives and to sing the first thing that rolls out of their hearts. The best way to lead them into this space is to have your team lead by example by singing out whatever words or melodies that comes to them in the moment. We really don’t have too much of a set structure for these kinds of moments but my number one suggestion would be to really listen to the Holy Spirit as He leads you down this path of engagement in worship.
4.) Drop the instrument
Many times it is easy to hide behind an instrument while leading your church into a greater awareness of His presence. I recently have taken the plunge in setting the guitar down while I lead to push myself out of my comfort zone. In doing so I have found that it has released me to engage our church into worship in a way that left me feeling more free. In return, it gave some of our team the opportunity to carry a little bit more of the musical load and has allowed me to move around a little more freely. In doing so, it seems to me that when I decided to step out from behind my instrument that our church’s response in worship went to another level that I can’t fully explain with words. My advice is to give it a try for a few weeks. See how they respond and go from there. At the very least, breaking out of your comfort zone will only make you a better leader in the long run.
5.) Plan a big crash moment
Whether it is at the end your set or at the end of your first song, I have found that when we crash out big on the symbols (while the band is playing on the 1 or the 4 chord) it gives a Holy lift to the service. This allows the church an opportunity to lift their voices, clap their hands, shout his name and give praise to the Lord with a mighty heavenward sound of worship. These moments have been such an encouragement to our body as we come together to worship the King!
Lastly, I will say that these things may not always work in every church. It is always important to have a good awareness of who makes up your congregation and how they engage in worship. At the very least, hopefully you can pick up on one of these five basic tools to engage your church in worship that releases your people to draw closer to God.