5 things your praise team must do to win over your congregation

Praise teams are nothing new for many denominations, as they’ve been using praise teams for years. But for many of the African-American churches, having a praise team come forth instead of testimony service or morning devotion is very much a new thing. And like all new things, many newly formed praise teams are being met with a great deal of resistance from their congregations. Today I’ll share 5 of the most important things I think praise teams need to do in order to be successful at wining over their church congregation.

1. Choose true Praise And Worship Songs.

A praise team’s job is somewhat different from say, the choir’s job. Praise and Worship is really, in a sense, a form of prayer set to music. The praise team’s main goal is to set an atmosphere that encourages and facilitates praising and worshiping God. As such, you should endeavor to choose songs where both the lyrical content and the musical arrangement encourages and helps the audience to sing along in praise and worship to God.
The best praise and worship songs are SIMPLE and repetitive. These kinds of songs are easy for your audience to learn, which encourages them to sing along and participate in the praise and worship.

Praise songs should be mid to up-tempo songs that have a positive vibe musically, and lyrically focus on praising and exalting God; “Oh give thanks/ Unto the Lord/ For He is good/ Yes He is good” , for example. This is a happy, up-tempo song that gets the audience clapping and singing along.

Worship songs are generally slower and talk more about relationship, closeness and what God means to us: “Into Your arms/ I’m drawing near again/ to dwell with You/ Is my only heart’s desire”

Try to choose songs based solely on their ability to encourage and facilitate praise and worship throughout the congregation. Avoid choosing songs because they’re popular or they’re everyone’s favorite. Often some songs are great but would work better for the choir or some other group rather than for praise and worship.

2. Rehearse And Perfect Your Songs To The Best Of Your Ability

It’s very important for praise teams to understand how critical it is that you serve in the highest level that you’re able to. Praise teams are an entirely different animal from the choir. Usually everyone on the praise team is singing in front of a microphone. The songs, although typically more simple than choir songs, are often written with an even greater focus on the harmony and over-all sound. Remember, we’re trying to set an atmosphere that encourages praise and facilitates worship. Imaging going to a romantic, dimly lit restaurant for an expensive dinner only to find them playing terrible music over the sound system. Even if the music was your favorite love songs, you simply couldn’t get in a romantic mood if it sounded bad.

As such, every performance for a praise team should be as good as you can make it. People often misunderstand the need or the importance of perfecting your songs and striving for excellence in your music ministry. I talk about that a great deal in my blog “why it’s better to sing in unison than to sing with bad harmony”. But the important thing to remember is that you want your praise team to simply be a vessel, or a conduit through which the Holy Spirit can flow musically. You don’t want anything you’re doing to be a distraction in that sense. It is absolutely more work, to be sure. But the work is well worth it, and if you do it your audience will respond.

3. Sing Your Songs Often

One big mistake praise teams make is to constantly be doing new material. Again, for choirs this is much more acceptable and even preferred on some level. But effective praise and worship needs audience engagement and participation. That can only happen if you’re singing your praise and worship songs often enough so the audience becomes familiar with them, learns the words and begins to sing along. This is another reason why the best Praise And Worship songs are simple, repetitivesongs.

A new praise team obviously has to go through a period of learning a lot of new material in order to build up a catalog. But in general I’d recommend the average praise team be working off a list of no more than about 10 songs that they rotate through and repeat often. Doing this helps your audience develop a relationship with the songs. They’re more likely to participate and sing along to songs they know and hear often rather than new songs they’re not familiar with.

4. Be Authentic. Praise And Worship God From Your Heart, Every Song

It is an absolute must that every member on a praise team is completely immersed emotionally and spiritually in every song. If it’s an up-tempo praise song, everyone should be moving and clapping and praising God while you sing, and doing it from a very real place. If it’s a worship song, lift your hands, close your eyes, sing from your heart. The audience can always tell when it isn’t real. But when it is real, it’s contagious. If you’re choosing the right songs and approaching the ministry prayerfully and with a sincere heart, this will happen automatically.

5. Be Patient With The Congregation

As we said at the beginning of the article, many churches are just recently making the switch to using a praise team. None of us like to see old, familiar things replaced. Especially when we didn’t see anything wrong with the old way. As such, it is quite likely that even if you’re doing everything above to the letter, you simply won’t get much involvement or participation from the audience for a while. You must see that as normal and to be expected.

Whatever you do, do NOT scold, reprimand, guilt or otherwise try to force your audience to participate in praise and worship. You will undoubtedly get frustrated as you go forth every Sunday giving your best while the audience looks on, almost defiantly sometimes. The worst thing you can do, however, is lash out or say negative things in your efforts to get them going.

Instead, continue to simply choose great songs, perfect them to the best of your ability, sing them often and be sincere and real every time you get up. Never sing for the audience, because if you do, you’ll always be tied emotionally to what they’re doing or not doing. Sing your songs to the glory and honor of God. Sing your worship to Him. Sing your praises to Him. He will in turn work through you to reach your audience. Before long they’ll start standing, singing along, praising and worshiping God together with you. Just be consistent, be patient, and be Positive!

Did you find this article helpful? Find it and 12 more like it in my new e-book Praise Team 101.



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21 Responses to 5 things your praise team must do to win over your congregation

  1. Helen says:

    Great article. Good points. I don’t think African American churches have a hard time transitioning from choir to praise team. Many small store front churches had praise teams years and years ago. The choirs were so small they were essentially praise teams. The music they sang exalted Christ and lifted the people. That was praise and worship ‘back in the day”.

  2. Shalandra says:

    Matthew Reed, i totally agree with you. When we deny ourselves and think only of the goodness, the grace and the mercy of God, you can’t contain yourself nor will anyone else.

  3. betty Jackson says:

    I love what I have read, so beautiful this will be a help to my church

  4. Katrina says:

    3&4 can’t be stressed enough. I’m often lovingly teased by the other members, that I’ll leave them and the audience in my praise and worship. It’s so real to me. I literally restrain myself from lying prostrate.

  5. Catherine says:

    I truly love this. Let your praise and worship come from a real place.I have come to realize that most times when true worship is going on and the presence of God feels the room, congregation might just be soooo overwhelmed by God’s presence that rather than join you to sing, they just fall down into worship of this awesome God we serve. Great job Sir Ron.

  6. sunnyitomo says:

    Doing ur own song(s) always the best when praising / worshipping God.

  7. Great Article! I am on the only member of my praise team well including musicians and it’s been a little discouraging . I noticed that I started too focus on number #5 more than #4. Priorities are now in order. And I was just looking for praise and worship songs. Thank you Lord!

    • Anne says:

      I’m a devotional leader in a non denominational church, mostly elderly, I’m focusing also on 4 & 5, mostly people don’t want fast songs in the congregation, being an older set of people. I must sing to the glory of God, and use the gift with in me. Amen

  8. Mary says:

    I appreciated this very instructive article. So many good points. Sing familiar songs: I know LOTS of music across several genres and am bothered when the praise team sings songs that even I do not know. We cannot really get with them. Also, stay positive: like with some worship leaders and ministers, I am offended when I get “beat up” for not standing, jumping, doing whatever I am commanded to do. Being lead into genuine worship by sincere worshippers really IS contagious. We will come willingly when the spirit is right.

  9. Lois Collins says:

    All of this is so true. Keep God first in your life praise and worship him give God your best. Most of all live the life you sing about. We know you can never be perfect that is why we strive for perfection. May God bless.

  10. alyce says:

    My favorite is #4. If the authenticity is there, if the sincerity is there, and God has not only been invited, but also welcome, then the congregation knows and is touched and compelled to join the praise and join the worship, authentically. Every one is lifted.

  11. RB says:

    I am so struggling with the same thing in my own church when it comes to praise and worship. We sing choir songs, no true worship behind singing. Glad this came across my android. God work in me to do what You would have me to do. It all starts at home and not when we get to church.

  12. Beda says:

    I was just in a meeting yesterday & the position of praise leader was presented to the praise team & no one volunteered but i wanted to do it but because im limited to getting to church the majority of the time i didn’t commit & we left it tonthe pastor to pray & appoint who God wants in the position., but its so funny that this site popped up when i was looking for praise songs. I know its not a coincident because God knkws my heart. Im laughing because he knows hat we feel without sayjng a word. He’s an awesome God

    • Ron Cross says:

      I believe the same thing Beda. I always do though, because that’s what God told me would happen. Not everyone who us lead here takes advantage of all the things God sent them here to receive, but I don’t believe anyone comes by chance.

  13. Venise says:

    Never new what the positions was of a praise team was ask by the first lady to fill the position I was struggling,didn’t want to do it,didn’t have any songs ect.I prayed change my attitude & the Holy Spirit brought me to this site everything u explain is so true Thank God for working through the channel’s Men & giving me the answer may God continue to bless you

  14. Doris (cooper) Jeter says:

    This is Soooo true. Give your best and God will do the rest

  15. Pingback: Praise teams- Is there such a thing as too much new music? - The Music Ministry Coach.com

  16. denny hagel says:

    Influence by example is always best! Great article!

  17. Penny says:

    Hi Ron, great article..thanks for sharing!

  18. Olga Hermans says:

    I totally agree that we have to worship God from our heart and beyond, we need to let Him work in us that needs to be done. When we need a change in our life, God first wants to change US and He dies that when we worship Him…

  19. Matthew Reed says:

    My favorite here is #4. There is nothing like GENUINE worship. When a team is not performing but passionately worshipping Jesus it is contagious.

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