12 Ways To Increase Congregation Participation (Pt.2)

What can worship teams and those who lead them do to encourage more Spiritual gifts from the congregation in their worship times? (or at the very least what can they do to not get in the way?) Last week I started sharing some of the lessons I’ve learned in the first 7 years of Grace Church.

Realise that some churches are too big for the congregation to contribute. (It’s just that your church isn’t one of them).

Rehearse for every Sunday not just next Sunday.

Turn down.

(Read the first post here).

Time for a few more…

Chop your worship leader into little pieces.

It’s not always obvious but the average worship leader in a contemporary church is doing 4 jobs at the same time. Tim Redlinson of the Tim Redlinson Band* sings the melody that everyone is hopefully joining in with, directs the band, follows the flow of the spirit in leading the worship, and ultimately provides oversight of the whole holy shebang.

It’s a big ask and if Tim isn’t up to it often the first thing to drop off is making any room for the congregation to get in on the act. After all it’s a lot easier to juggle all those balls if no one’s going to throw a nasty prophetic curveball into the airtight set you’ve rehearsed to the nth degree.

Better to share the responsibilities out. That way everyone can relax a little, get their heads up and see what God might want to do in the moment. You can release at lot more people to lead a lot sooner if they don’t have to carry the entire meeting. And my personal conviction is that the Elders always provide the oversight of the whole meeting anyway (so if you’ve been getting annoyed at your elder getting in the way during “your half of the meeting” you might want to repent now).

Even if you can carry the whole thing I still think you’re setting a bad example. We want to avoid anything that smacks of an elite priesthood so the less any one of us does the better. Fallen humans are hardwired to look for the man of power for the hour to be God’s go between for them. Just so you know, that position is still filled by Jesus.

Practice spontaneous contributions over and over again.

Ok, so I know you can’t squeeze out prophetic songs on demand at rehearsal, but how about getting the singers to start singing any random scriptures and try to jam along. You can get them to start a song without telling you which one they’re going to pick. You can even get ‘em to try to start it really out of key. You’re trying to practice the mechanics of it so that when it happens for real on a Sunday you don’t freak. All you’re aiming for is to be relaxed enough when the Spirit does start kicking off you can actually still strum a few chords.

There is no such thing as a life changing meal, there is only a life changing absence of meals.

We worship leaders are always looking for the killer song or the killer worship time. But as with their eating habits people are changed more over months of good quality worship times than by any one transfigurational meeting. People are feeding themselves week in and week out on the songs you’re serving up. So we need pick the best songs and sing them over and over again.

What has this got to do with getting contributions? If the songs don’t have enough meat in them people aren’t going to find their hearts burning and worship will never get off the ground. People pray off the back of what you’ve given them to sing. And if all they’ve been singing is “God you give me the warm fuzzies” the prayers aren’t going to be too spectacular.

And secondly, because worship leaders usually hear any given song 20 -30 times more than anyone in the congregation it’s no surprise that we get bored with a song before the congregation’s even got to grips with it. But people need to be very familiar with a song to start it confidently. And they need to be confident that You know it well enough to pick it up after about 3 lines (which is all the word they can remember). 

So keep those meat and potatoes coming.

Brace yourself for the trainwreck.

It’s 10:29 on a Sunday morning. You hear that clickity-clack sound growing louder? That, Mr Anderson, is the sound of inevitability. It’s the 10:45 express train to Embarrassment City and it’s got your name on the front. And pretty soon it’s going to have you smeared all over the front, along with the remains of your self esteem. 

You will crash and burn. Oh yes. 

One morning someone will start a song in Eb and you will confidently transpose down to D as your voice equally confidently transposes up to E. Betcha couldn’t do that again if you tried. Or you will pitch that song in F while the band plays in C and not for the life of you be able to pull out of the nosedive. Or maybe you’ll look on in horror as two people start two different songs at the same time, then stop to let the other go and wait in silence before doing the exact same thing all over again.

And one of them will be the pastor.

And let’s not even mention the prayer meeting where 6 people in a row start songs that only 20% of the congregation know (and the band is not in the 20% for any of ‘em).

If being an iPhone-toting missional metrosexual worship hero is a key value for you this ain’t your ministry homeboy. But if you want to be a fool for Christ step right up, ‘cos it’s a wonderful training ground.

More suggestions next week.

Let me know your challenges. What would you like to see on this list?

Read the rest of this series –
Part One
Part Three
Part Four 

Related Posts: In praise of train wrecks.

About mattblick

Songwriter & Musical Educator from Nottingham, UK. New album Fifty Five Stories Down is out now. Blogging through the entire Beatles catalogue at Beatles Songwriting Academy.
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