The Most Overlooked Reason Congregations Don’t Sing Along With The Praise Team

I saw an article recently that talked about what he referred to as “the death of congregational singing”. One of the main reasons he sited for this is how much more complicated songs have become in this day and age than they were before. It’s true, even of some praise and worship songs.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “a song the angels can’t sing”. Well unfortunately I believe many praise teams are often choosing songs the congregation can’t sing. Something most of us don’t consider when we’re choosing songs is the most obvious consideration of all: Will the audience be able to sing this?

Often in our zeal to choose powerful, popular songs that we feel will create an atmosphere of praise, we choose songs that are, quite frankly, intimidating for the audience. Don’t get me wrong, the audience may be really enjoying the song. Yet they don’t actually participate in the worship experience. Instead most congregations simply stand politely and watch the praise team; because that’s what they’re supposed to do. That’s protocol. Here comes the praise team, better stand.

But when it comes to actually joining in and becoming an active participate in the praise and worship many congregation members find the songs simply too intimidating to sing along. They may feel it’s too high, too many words, the format or flow of the song is complicated- you get the idea.

We often fail to catch this because we’re singers and musicians. This is pretty common stuff for us. So when we hear that hot up-tempo song with the awesome chord progressions and the great harmony arrangement-the one that modulates 4 times and just works us into a frenzy-we think “Oh man, this is gonna be great! We goin’ IN when we sing this!”

We fail to understand that the people in the audience aren’t “music people” like us. So while modulations, high notes and directional changes are all familiar to us, they tend to leave audience members thinking “I can’t do that” (COUGH “Chasing After You” COUGH). So they stand and clap and enjoy the show, but they don’t join in the praise.

So it’s really important for praise team leaders and members to never lose sight of why we even have a praise team in the first place. Our primary goal is to create an atmosphere that encourages corporate praise and worship. That only happens though, when the audience begins to join in and sing together, rather than watch our “praise show” from the sidelines.
For more articles and help with your praise or worship team’s ministry check out Praise Team 101.

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13 Responses to The Most Overlooked Reason Congregations Don’t Sing Along With The Praise Team

  1. Chikodi Uzoamaka says:

    Oh… Thanks Sir… would share this piece with my choir… thanks!

  2. Leon says:

    God help us all. There safe so many facets to leading worship, indeed, we have to rely on Jesus Christ. There’s the balance of performance with looking to Christ while leading the entire church. Thanks for sharing, coach!

  3. Kenny says:

    I am the music dorector for my church. We still utilize a choir for hymnals and i get one song, dedication song, to play something newer and more contemporary. It has helped tremendously with people participating in the alter call. However, i still canr get the sanctuary to fill with their voices and hands held high. Im going to try and find contemporized hymnals and see if that helps.

  4. alyce says:

    An issue I have experienced is that the volume is too high! In the congregation we can’t hear our self think, so why bother mouthing words. And then, if the praise team has gone on ahead and ‘entered in’ without the congregation, having praise and worship all by themselves, well, they don’t need us to do anything but stand and clap anyway …

  5. Joe Rice says:

    This is so true! Being a in a praise band myself, I totally understand this! I believe me and my band can work on this. Thanks for the advice!

  6. Akeem Downs says:

    Hey. I am late, but just introduced to this blog. This is great stuff.

    I don’t necessarily think our songs are overcomplicated in a sense. A lot of our hymns have at least 3-4 verses. Most musicians can get though the first verse and maybe parts of the second without looking at words.

    Just from my observation at my church, I notice it takes a while for the congregation to get with new songs. A lot of groups change new songs rapidly. When singing something new, we try to sing it often before pushing with other new material.

  7. Akeem Downs says:

    Hey. I am just being introduced to your blog and I am enjoying read

  8. Gary Irving says:

    Hate to break it to you..but as someone who grew up in an evangelical non denominational church that became a megachurch and have seen the trend towards”Praise and Worship”…it isn’t that the music is too hard……it is too hard to enjoy.The Worship team sounds like parents saying to kids on a boring vacation”Cmon!We’re supposed to being having fun!” But clueless to providing a meaningful time.If worship time is like a feast..why are you surprised at the lack of enthusiasm with balogna sandwiches?

    • Ron Cross says:

      Thanks for the feedback and the fresh perspective Gary. I love a good analogy. Let’s continue the discussion. So, if you’re saying the music is hard to enjoy, how do praise teams go about fixing that? What should they be doing instead? As you can imagine comments on what’s good and what isn’t for praise and worship teams to sing are as varied as there are opinions. Give me your take. What moves YOU? Some song examples would be great.

  9. Merlyn Neverson says:

    WOW!! so true!! Good helpful information

  10. Traci says:

    Cough, cough :0)

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