It takes a long time for churches to grow in worship. Expecting immediate change is one of the major reasons why worship leaders and pastors get discouraged and give up. It’s never as easy as we want it to be, and it always takes longer than we want it to take.
Well, maybe not always. Sometimes there are easy things we can do to make a difference in a relatively short amount of time.
As I’ve visited and watched other church services and worship leaders over the years, I’ve found myself coming back to six things that I wish I could suggest in almost every case. These aren’t earth shattering suggestions. They’re fairly simple.
But they’re fundamental. And if worship leaders and their churches would make some minor corrections in the fundamentals, I dare to suggest that they’d see significant improvement in their Sunday morning worship services.
Here are my six suggestions:
1. Turn the lights up
Romantic restaurants turn the lights down to help couples feel isolated. Movie theaters turn lights down so you can see the show. When churches turn the lights down it creates isolated spectators. Turn the lights up brighter to facilitate communal involvement in worship of Jesus together.
2. Have your pastor call people to worship
Is the pastor (or one of them) even in the room yet? Is he eating a donut offstage? Does he not think this opening time of worship is important? Does he agree with what the worship leader is doing? I guess I don’t think this time is all that important either. These are the questions and that’s the conclusion your congregation may have if they don’t see the pastor’s face until the sermon. He should be up on stage early. He should welcome people, pray for the service, and encourage and invite them to worship. When the pastor is seen as supporting and participating in worship, it will make a difference for the better.
3. Use congregation-friendly keys
Seriously. If you sing songs that are too high, people will tune out. Read my old post on this if you have any questions.
4. Remove rock-star stage elements
Being elevated on a stage is enough. But projecting the worship leader’s face onto a giant screen? Building a platform for the bass player to stand on for no apparent good reason? Fog? Come on. I can understand building a platform for the drums so they can be rolled and moved with ease, but do we need extra platforms on top of the already existing platform? No. And do we need to see the worship leader’s face the whole time we sing? No. We don’t. Take away these distractions as soon as you can.
5. Don’t introduce too many new songs
When you don’t introduce any new songs, your congregation tunes out because they’re bored. When you introduce too many new songs, your congregation tunes out because they don’t have the energy. Two new songs a month, max.
6. Nudge your team to be more expressive
No congregation will go beyond what they see modeled from up front. If expressive worship is modeled from up front, from the singers and musicians and the pastor, then you’ll see expressiveness in the congregation. They’ll know it’s safe. But if no one up front is expressive, then of course you can’t expect the congregation to be, except for the one brave soul. They’ll know it’s not permitted.
There’s a growing epidemic in our churches of worship bands playing songs while a tuned out congregation waits for the sermon. If the musicians and pastors think more carefully about serving their congregations and inviting them into worshipping Jesus together, then we’ll all be pleasantly surprised. And God will receive more of the glory due his name.