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4 Ways to Help Your Church Engage in Worship

Kade Young
Kade Young
Chief Audio Guru

It is easy to get in front of the church, go through the entire worship set, and never take time to connect with them on a deeper level. There are two problems with this:

  1. The congregation becomes spectators of the worship band instead of joining in.
  2. Newcomers feel disconnected and awkward about what is going on.

I know, I know…we are musicians, not top-class communicators. It pushes us out of our comfort zone when we have to let out words without a melody.

Although I can’t promise this will be comfortable at first, I have found 4 ways you can easily connect with the congregation. Taking time to develop the skill of connecting with others is key to taking worship to the next level.

1. Welcome everyone and express gratitude.

This may seem overly simple and obvious, but one of the best ways to connect with the congregation is to greet them. There are three good places for this within your worship set: before it starts, during the intro of the first song, or between the first and second song. Then, you simply want to say something like,

“Welcome church! We are so glad you decided to spend part of your weekend with us. I invite you to add in your beautiful voice as we sing a few songs together."

Keep the greeting light and fun - don’t formalize it! Most importantly, be yourself. Think through how you would greet someone coming to your home for the first time and develop something similar.

2. Invite the congregation to sing with you.

When we are singing a song that has an epic bridge, like When You Walk Into the Room, I have found it very effective to simply say, “Come on church, let’s sing this together.” This little phrase will increase participation by 100%!

As worship leaders, we tend to assume that everyone knows to sing along, but sometimes, they just need a little encouragement.

3. Share a short, funny story.

You may not think that worship is a time for story telling, but you would be surprised at how much this can help the congregation connect. It is really no different than how effective a story is within the pastor’s sermon.

Stories connect people. So don’t be afraid to get a little personal and share a story between the first and second song.

Maybe even share something funny that happened between band members during rehearsal. This takes the ‘stardom’ away and lets the congregation see that the worship band is full of real people.

4. Connect with others on the stage.

It is easy to stare straight ahead (maybe even at the back wall) throughout the entire worship set. Maybe you think it is vain to watch the guitar player during an instrumental or turn your head and smile at the keyboardist after their little riff.

Well, these types of connections are not vain. As a matter of fact, they enhance worship in two ways.

First, it promotes relationships between worship team members. Second, it is uplifting for the congregation to see that those on the worship team are actually friends.

How do you connect with the congregation?

I am sure there are many other ways to connect with the congregation and I would love to hear about them! Share your ideas in the comments below.


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25 comments on “4 Ways to Help Your Church Engage in Worship”

  1. Yes I have purposefully worked on trying to memorise at least part of each song, to give me a chance to look out and make eye contact with individuals in the congregation. It annoys me greatly when I'm not up front playing/singing and leading, that those who are ostensibly up front to "lead" us, never look at those whom they are leading. I know of one singer I have seen frequently who does nothing but close the eyes, and turn their face to the ceiling. Yes, you are supposed to lead by example but if you haven't connected first with those you are leading why on earth should they follow?

    1. Great point, Heather. Although I don't require musicians to memorize their music, I do require all vocalists to memorize lyrics. I do not even allow music stands on the stage for the vocalists on my team. 🙂

    2. I am there to follow Jesus.
      I like it when the worship leaders close their eyes and make the songs a prayer. It reminds me to turn the song into a prayer as well.

      I like it when everyone claps and the leader claps along with the audience and says "Lets thank the Lord together!" I stop worshipping the Leader and remember to worship the Lord.

      If fact I like sings tgat you have to clap along with.
      It gets me out of my head. All the junk rolling around in there like ....the horrible phone call.... the mouthy child.... the rude driver...... the doctors appt.... the late bills. So iften in wirship I waste the entire time obsessing on the latest fire in my life.

      Clapping forces me to concentrate. I suck at clapping. I can't keep time to save my life. It breaks me out of the negative loop inside my head and brings me into the here and now. I am more worried about being humiliated about my lake of rhythm than the mouthy kid I just dropped of at Sunday school.

      Which brings me to loud music. I like worship to be loud. Not so loud my ears bleed but loud enough so that neither I or the guy next to me can hear me singing..... out of key. Yeah all the gooey sugar pop charm in the world is not going to make sing-a-long if I fear the person next to me going to pass me the stink eye.
      Nope! Not on your life!

      Which leads me to my next thing. Super simple chorus'. If the song is a simple key. I will venture out of my self protective cocoon. I will at least try. The last time I took singing lessons was kindergarten... don't knock those tunes. They feel safe.

      You can show of your fancy songs later in the service. I will enjoy them quietly with a silent attitude of prayer.

      That was AMAZING! I wish I could sing like That!
      But I can't.

  2. We usually have about 5-10 minutes following our worship team warm-up and the time we begin singing a gathering song. I encourage my team to take that time to mingle with the congregants to find out how we can pray for them, or to just have a little relationship building time.

  3. What I do ain't a walk in the park! I'm out there in the front line, liberating ppl thru music!
    #BattleField #Worship #Praise #ThereIsPowerInWorship #BreaksEveryChain #GodMovesInWorship #ToGodBeTheGlory...

    To me its all a perspective on how you view worship. What you want from it and what you want to come out of it.... Being a worship leader at times we can get frustrated because the congregation is not "into it" from there I was unhappy because after I got them into it I though "but where's there hearts? Are they truly worshiping or just singing along cuz the "music" sounds awesome bringing a feel good feeling?? Until a few years ago God put a complete diff perspective. A battle field. Powerful things happen in worship in true worship chains break, ppl are liberated, some will even experience Devine healing!!! Because God moves through worhsip. My goals are diff now my views as well, I'm no longer trying to engage with them I am now leading them to enter Gods presence through worship. To open their understanding to see why we worship and the Benefits of it! And going in with that mind set prepares you for a powerful God lead, Spirit filled, chain breaking worship. It's a game changer for me ????????

  4. Great thoughts! Yea, I totally agree about (and practice) welcoming, inviting and connecting, but I find it so hard to share stories, etc. Probably because its pretty hard for me to go off my "unscripted script" and then when i do, I usually end up either saying something really dumb or something sounding really churchy and spiritual, which, to me (and to the immediate vision of our church), is even worse.- I really need to work on this. Great post!

    1. Haha, I can totally relate. I have definitely had my share of saying dumb things...just something that takes practice.

    2. Perhaps you being free to saying something "dumb" might just be the invitation some folks need to relax and let themselves be themselves and worship more freely. Remember though, if your heart is in the right place, the intention and the effort will be appreciated by most. I once heard a story of a woman who felt that the Holy Spirit was telling her to do a cartwheel down the center aisle, against her better sense of dignity, she obeyed. She learned later that because of that cartwheel, a man who'd been running from God for a very long time had decided to accept salvation.

      It's worth mentioning that practicing some adlib comments would be ideal during that mid-week rehearsal time, if you have it. I think it's a safe bet that the people who are there know your heart. If something really odd is said, they'll probably laugh at you and maybe tease you a little. Two things can come from it... A: keeping rehersal light hearted is a good thing and B: now you've got your funny story for Sunday (or whenever).

      Lastly, if you've got someone who has been blessed with the gift of glib, inviting some of your team members to share a thought.

  5. I would add that you need to allow the congregation to learn the songs. If you are introducing several new songs each week it will be very difficult for people to join in to worship. Give them time to learn. Repeat the songs several weeks in a row after introducing them. How are you expecting your people to enter into worship if they don't know the songs? This isn't supposed to be a performance and you're not supposed to be an entertainer!

    I would also add: be the worship leader. Do what you do. Let the sound guy be the sound guy. What you hear on the platform isn't what the congregation hears. What you heard during warm ups and practice isn't what the congregation hears either. The atmosphere and the dynamics changed when the sanctuary started filling with people. Trust your technical people to do what they do. Be humble enough to take direction from them. I can tell you from experience, if the congregation is searching for the sound guy it isn't to lavish praise!

  6. Great read thank you so much.
    Our pastor has made it a point for us to go out go the gathering area and talk, mingle, meet and generally hang out with people between rehearsal and the start of worship and again after service. It's created some great relationships, made it easier for people to come and volunteer and helps people feel more comfortable to sing with us during worship

    1. Love it. Definitely one of the best ways to connect with the congregation.

  7. Have the instrumentalists sing, even if they can't . They don't have to have a mike Leader be aware of special times when he/she needs to share briefly a"word' Please limit the number of "yeah"s you sing and the ohohohoh's It's ok for you to adlib praise.

  8. Maybe keeping the church informed as to what songs are going to be sung thru out the quarter and perhaps next week so that they can sing them at home and maybe prepare them selves before Sunday.

    I think also creating a culture at member meetings that the whole membership is the Church choir and that the expectation is that they will help lean worship with the band. Teaching your church that the band exists to support congregational singing and that we don't exist to be the primary voice praising God.

    Your ideas are great but in the end having leadership that consistently encourages the church members to sing, and inviting the church onto the worship team as either the choir or congregational worship leaders will ultimately begin that process of creating a culture we all should want.

  9. I'm partial to sharing stories from my own life - getting irritated in traffic, an experience I had in a store, etc - bringing in my own humanity. It then relating to some Scripture. And many times it's hanging out with people before/after service(s) in the lobby. When platform personnel get in with everyone, it definitely shrinks that imaginary gap between platform team and the crowd. I've also found posting - Twitter, Instagram - about just everyday stuff, that helps make you a real person, always keeping things positive.

  10. May I say how helpful I find your postings ? Thank you for taking the time to reflect on your practice and share.

    Some of it may seem prosaic or everyday but that's just what I find most helpful.

    Bless you and your continuing ministry.

    Chris, Kings Lynn, England.

  11. Listen to your people.

    I've found one of the best ways you can engage your people is by giving them a voice. We worship leaders are quick to tell others "It's not about your preferences" yet we're the ones picking songs that fit ours. So if that old guy says to you, "I sure do miss those old songs", ask him which ones, figure out how to do one or two, and if possible, make it a regular thing.

    Hold your own preferences loosely, give your people a voice as you curate your church's songs, and they will come with you on your songs if they see you are willing to go to them with theirs.

  12. There was one time I was the only vocalist that week - and the song of response was "Unchanging" by Chris Tomlin. Because the sermon that week was about trust, I felt led to ask the congregation to help me echo the first two lines of the verses. It turned out to be great!

    1. Our church also has meet & greet times after our call to worship song!

  13. My wife tells me that the love it when I talk to them. Sometimes during the week a story about something comes to the forefront of my mind, and sometimes the word comes to me like during rehearsal. That's the Spirit, and he will give you the word to say if you are open and have a heart to love the people he had given you.

  14. My Senior Pastor sits on the front row right next to the aisle and seriously engages in worship, hands up, singing loud! His example has a huge effect on our church. I’ve never been anywhere else where you can hear people singing so much!

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