Many worship leaders, without realizing it, expect the congregation to be able to read their minds. Sing here, don’t sing here. Stand up now, but sit down in a minute. Listen to this verse. Think about this in light of what we just heard. We’re learning this because… Men sing a line and women echo. The list goes on.
There are a variety of instances during the course of a worship service when people are expected to participate in a particular way. But do we as worship leaders do a good job of communicating that to them? Sometimes yes and sometimes no.
In a room full of people, whether it’s 15 or 150 or 1,500, one question that at some point will be on every single person’s mind is: what am I supposed to be doing right now? And I think most people genuinely want to be involved. There are always those who, for whatever reason, don’t want to be involved regardless of how clear the instruction. But for most people it’s not that difficult.
Effective worship leaders are able to, at all times during the service, be aware that this question is being asked. Most of the time we know what’s going on because we’ve done it many times before, been through rehearsal, been thinking about for a week or more, talked to the pastor about his plan, and are the ones who have a say in the direction of the service. Because of this, if we’re not careful, we’ll assume that since we know what’s going on, then the average person in the congregation does too. The problem is that it’s not always as clear to them as we think it might be.
The longer you serve a particular congregation, the easier it will be for both of you to trust each other and move in the same direction. But one thing is the same for worship leaders who are just starting out and worship leaders who have been at a church for thirty years: your congregation can’t read your mind. Growing in sensitivity to when (and when not), how (and how not), and why (and why not) to communicate to the congregation the why’s and how’s and when’s is crucial to helping the congregations we serve.
Always put yourself in their shoes. Look at the service through their eyes. Be a helpful tour guide. Be an effective usher. They will go with you if they trust you!