As about half of the typical American church service involves music, I have a few modest wishes.
But first, a couple of caveats. I’m not a professional musician. But neither is the majority of pew sitters. I’m in good company.
And, I propose that worship music has a primary purpose: to collectively communicate with God with adoration and love.
With that, here are 5 simple wishes for the musical side of worship.
- Select singable songs. Stick with the solid, inspiring winners. If a song’s lyrics tie directly to the subject of the sermon but the song is a musical dud, please spare us.
- Music leaders, accept your role as encouragers of others to sing. Resist using the microphone to amplify your vocal gymnastics that may be artistic but impossible for us mere mortals to follow.
- Refrain from projecting video images of the musicians on the big screens. Help us focus on God.
- Set the sound levels of the musicians so as not to overwhelm the combined voices of the community of worshipers.
- Try moving the musicians out of sight. Set up in back. At least once in a while, help us simply listen, sing, focus on the words, and worship.
“Everything on earth will worship you; they will sing your praises, shouting your name in glorious songs.” Psalm 66:4
Oh! How true this is. I have a dreadful singing voice and so are many of us in church. Perhaps. The congregation should stay seated and listen to the choir IF there is a good one, if not I am sure God wouldn’t mind if there were no singing at all. There are wonderful prayers to be said ie psalms of praise.
Good thought, thanks for sharing.
Coming from a ‘mainline’ denomination, in a traditional setting, I would point out that these suggestions well describe most of our music practices. The choir, whatever its form, is intended to lead congregational singing and is generally located in a balcony behind the congregation. The choir’s job is to introduce, so to teach, new music so folks can become comfortable with it. I agree that good words with a poor tune is unfortunate, but the reliance on a too small a group of hymns can result in a reductionist, immature faith. Lack of variety in instrumentation, whether pipe organ or rock band, diminishes the inherent power that music brings to a worship experience. Or so I think.
Agreed on all counts! And we implement all but the last – have never tried #5. I especially agree with #1 – there are just some songs that, while wonderful for listening, just are not meant for singing with a congregation. We are so thankful and blessed that our church has been able to find a wonderful balance between traditional and contemporary, combining both into our services. And I would feel safe saying that we all enjoy and take more from the service for that reason.
All in all, HAVE FAITH THAT GOD WILL PULL IT ALL TOGETHER! We have six praise teams that alternate leading worship. Our system is set up so that the praise team chooses the opening three songs and closing song. The Pastor chooses one in the middle. My particular praise team’s system – let’s open the service by singing joyfully and praising God (and waking up!). Let’s prayerfully lead into the message. And finally, let’s not leave on a dull note – let’s leave running, praising, and ready to get to work for God!
Our praise teams do their thing and the Pastor does his. In fact, generally, neither knows what the other has chosen to sing or is speaking about until Friday afternoon. And God always pulls it all together! There is never a Sunday where we don’t leave amazed at how God has intertwined the music and the message to work together. LET GOD HANDLE IT! The praise team is only there to lead if needed.
While the praise team or music leaders might be chosing the songs, we need to be mindful of the congregation as a whole. Find music that speaks to you and your team and it likely speak to someone else too.
That’s basically how it works at my church! And God pulls it together just the way he wants it every week. We have to remember that it is impossible to please everyone in the congregation. And when we try to do so it is easy to fall apart. Do what God calls/tells you to do every week and your job and purpose will be fulfilled to His glory!
My church’s worship director meets with the tech director and the pastor to create “worship design” every week. They are intentional about choosing a theme for the week that brings the sermon and music together. As a worshiper, it really brings my thoughts all in on the idea for the day that God wants me to hear, and it is not inhibited by their intentional planning – it is enhanced by it. I suggest that while God does handle the details, he entrusts some of them to us, and topical planning is not stepping on his boundary too much.
Amen! I visited a little country church not long ago–they sang with only a piano and I was so surprised and happy to actually hear the congregation singing–in 4-part harmony, no less! It was awesome! Usually, the band is so loud I can’t even hear the person next to me singing, if they are singing at all. Went to a big church recenly where they brag about what a great musician their worship leader is. I looked around the room during the singing, but no one was singing! They were merely listening to him perform. Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!
Agree with everything except #5… I know we are here to worship God, but the fundamental desire to worship is distinctly missing in many, many congregants. If the purpose of the worship team is to encourage and to lead the congregation into a place of worship, then it is important, sometimes, for them to be seen WORSHIPING rather than performing… I consider true worship leaders to be teachers. It’s for this reason that, in my children’s ministry, I have cut out motions and pantomime during almost all of our true worship songs… We jump and dance our way into a space where we welcome the Presence of God, and then we just open up to Him.
Valid point. I think you are both reaching for the same goal!
I agree with all these points, so much so it is one of my two pet peeves with church. The other being a sermon that is contains ONE point, inspirational, motivational, factual and does not beat around the bush!
For those who wish to experience heartfelt, enthusiastic singing, visit a church of Christ. We sing without instrumental accompaniment, and no matter if you have the voice of an angel or not, it is always inspiring.
Nothing is more beautiful than four-part harmony sung from the heart. It allows the worshiper to focus on the words of the song and your worship to our Heavenly Father without the distractions mentioned above.
You might be pleasantly surprised!
I recently attended a Christmas Eve service at another church. All of their special music came from the balcony in back, while the architecture made those in the pews look up toward the high ceilings. This was different for me, but it made the service very worshipful!
As a worship leader, good stuff to remember. I’ll bring it up to the team today.
I do wish we would always siing, Just As I Am as the invitational song. Trying to sing a song we don’t know well, is distrating. To me, not a time to be looking for the right note to sing, but to be reverent or prayerful for those who might be dealing with the Holy Spirit.