Regular readers of my blog here have no doubt read at least one article where I talk about the importance of not scolding or “reprimanding” your audience for not participating in the praise and worship; and by “participating” I mean doing what you want them to do or being as excited as you want them to be.
However I do feel the need to point out that in order to lead the audience in praise and worship there indeed must be some instruction of some kind. I think the assumption is that everyone in the audience will know what to do. Or if we, the praise and worship team, are seriously and intently praising and worshiping God it will automatically spill over to the audience.
While that will always be true for the more spiritually mature members of the congregation, worship leaders do need to be aware of the fact that not everyone automatically knows what to do during that time. And some people do indeed need some encouragement or “instruction”.
It’s perfectly fine, and in fact important to engage the audience and encourage participation by just telling them what you want them to do. For example I’m a big fan of “teach the song while you sing it”, where you’re literally giving the audience the words to the song and asking them to sing it. In cases like this you simply tell them “we’re going to teach you this new song and we’d like you to sing along with us. It’s really easy, it goes like this”. And then you proceed to do just that.
But even simpler things like “lift your hands and sing (whatever the line is) or telling the audience to just begin talking to God or singing to Him in their own way during a musical interlude. It’s perfectly ok to say these kinds of things to the audience. To give them instructions like “clap your hands right here” or “everybody sing” when you get to the chorus.
Where it goes south for most people is when they take it personally when some people aren’t doing it or they don’t get the participation they think they should. That’s when some people make the very bad decision to start “fussing” or scolding the audience. The last thing you want to do when your’e trying to set an atmosphere of praise and worship is to start putting the audience down.
So while you must understand the need to actually “lead” the audience by actually giving instruction and encouragement with simple commands, you must do so with the complete understanding that not everyone will. And you must NOT allow yourself to ever get angry and frustrated to the point where you start reprimanding the audience. Just invite and lead with simple direction and instructions and accept what happens. Many audience members will follow your instructions, some won’t. Stay positive and don’t take it personal. Be a leader, not a dictator!
For more help on taking your worship/praise team’s ministry to the next level go here.