Worship Leaders, Help The People Sing!
When you tune in to songs on the radio, what do you hear? Most likely, if you listen to the same radio station for any length of time, you will notice that you hear basically the same songs over and over. This is good! It happens that way on purpose.
The radio stations have figured out that people generally want to hear the same songs over and over. Occasionally there is a new song, but for the most part people want to hear a song often enough that they can memorize the words and sing along. Not only that, but people actually want to have the song playing in their head throughout the day, and they want to be able to talk with their friends and family about the song they love and have them tune in to the same station to hear it for themselves.
Again, this is good!
Now, when you come to worship the LORD through music in church, what do you hear? If you go to the same church for several weeks, months, and years in a row, too often you will hear way too many songs. This is bad.
Too many Worship Leaders wonder why their congregations are not passionately singing along. The answer is simple. The congregation hasn’t heard the songs often enough. They hear a completely different set of songs each week (many of which are not really even very great songs). If the lyrics were not projected on the screen, the congregation would have literally no idea how to join in for most of the songs, and about the time that they finally learn how to sing the song (because it was played once or twice a quarter for a couple of years), the song is now considered “too old” to be effective.
Again, this is bad!
Sure, some people like Pandora, but mostly just musical people do. The church is not filled with musical people. The church is filled with people from all walks of life. Some are musical, but most are not. Still, ALL of God’s people are called to worship Him through music (there is actually a whole book of the Bible devoted to it). As Worship Leaders, we need to help them sing!
If radio stations operated like churches with their song playlist, they would go out of business. People would stop advertising on the radio because no one would tune in.
Well, unfortunately, many of the worshipers who come to church on Sunday morning are no longer “tuning in,” as well. Many of them want to, but we have made it too difficult for them. Even many of our musical Worship Team members have a hard time tuning in because each week they have to learn a completely different set of songs.
There is a better way.
Worship Leaders, take your cue from the success of radio and help people sing. Prune that song list down to no more than 40 songs per season. Choose great songs (and only great songs)! Make sure those great songs show up for multiple seasons, give them a season-long break, and then bring them back!
Your job isn’t to spin our heads and leave us breathless by the amazing amount of songs that you can play (while staring at a song sheet). Your job is to lead us into an awareness of the presence and glory of God by leading us in songs that we know, love, have sung a hundred times and can declare passionately this week as we anticipate singing it again soon… just like as if the song were on the radio.
* For a printable version of this article, click here.
Artwork provided by my good friend, Brooke Gehman, an authentic and wonderful man of God, devoted follower of Christ, and an amazing husband and father. Brooke is a gifted Worship Leader, an incredible artist, and a Potter by trade (check out his website).