Worship Leaders Should Enlist The Congregation


Worship leadership is not a one-man show. Well, in a scriptural understanding, it is all about Jesus and Jesus, alone.

But from the practical standpoint of our role in the church, we can’t do it alone. Corporate worship is the best example of just that – everyone together lifting up the name of Jesus.

Part of the job of the worship leader is to invest time in enlisting the congregation to be a part of worship.

At the most basic level, the ministry of leading is a call to enlist the church. We’re inviting them to be present, engage and encounter Christ in our midst. This isn’t just about you, the team or the music – it’s about shepherding the congregation. Jesus is the ultimate worship leader – we respond to the prompting of the spirit among us.

Of course, there is a biblical basis for having those with gifts help lead the church in all kinds of worship – including music. Part of the role of this leader/team is to help others in the congregation take an active role. We want to equip them for leading and serving. We want to grow the team within the church for both now and in the future when we’re not there serving in that role. And who knows, there’s a high probability you’re enlisting and equipping to help grow another church as your people, especially the young adults, move from here to there.

Here are some ideas for enlisting:

Encourage Congregational Singing

The job of the worship team is to get the church to sing and give praise. Here are a few of the ways a leader can be intentional about this:

Right Keys – Songs most often should not be in the key of the recording – if your church is under 400 people. A large stadium of people can belt it out, but high keys are hard on a smaller group. Too low decreases energy. Don’t choose the key quietly. If you choose the key in your mind or by humming it will always be too low. Go someplace where you can belt it out and get a feel for it. Make sure you can sing the bridge and/or chorus, then select the right key from there. It might mean the verse is a little lower and that’s fine.

Right Songs – Song selection is important because it’s an opportunity for people to respond to God. It’s about singing what’s in the heart of your people. Newer songs aren’t automatically more spiritual. Old songs can work wonders for inspirational worship. A blend is probably good. Don’t teach too many new ones at once. For years the church lived with a single hymnal full of music and only sang about 35% of them. Modern worship leaders tend to switch the base of songs too quickly for their congregation. When a song gets worn out, just shelve it for a while. Songs work for you – you don’t always have to do the bridge or the ending tags – sometimes you might just do the chorus.

Right Volume – A good volume in worship music can help encourage congregational singing. There’s definitely a fine line – you want it to be loud enough to produce some energy and help people feel comfortable singing out, but you also want the congregation to hear themselves singing, too. Do your best in the space you have with the equipment you have! Sometimes, when people think it’s too loud, they are really saying, “The frequencies are off and it’s piercing.” Since gathering for worship is a primary reason for the church and it’s a weekly occurrence, it’s probably worth the investment of inviting an expert in to tweak your existing system for maximum effectiveness, if not invest in your system a bit. (If you’re in the STL or Southern IL area call this guy or this guy.

Right Lighting – Lighting is an art, and is also highly determined by your building. You want there to be enough light to see and to celebrate, but it’s also nice to bring some focus to worship and to dim lights during music. This is also dependent on the style of worship and the nature of your space. Be intentional with whatever lighting you have.

Right Engagement and Invitation – Lead songs, be confident, use words sparingly as a worship leader. Use invitations from scripture, intro songs, call your church to worship. Change things up now and then, invite others in the worship team to engage and exhort from time to time. Plan out what you might say as a transition so you don’t get stuck in a rut. Always keep the goal in mind – to invite people to sing, to praise and engage as they encounter Christ in the midst of corporate worship.

Recruit Musicians

A practical way to enlist the congregation is to discover who may be able to join you as a musician. Open doors for this on an ongoing basis. Help people know the path for getting connected. Ask people personally. Ask your team who they know and invite them in. This is one great way to enlist the church into hands-on worship. Last week, we had a pop-up worship choir. There were about ten people who stood on stage and sang the songs. They were prepped with music in advance, there were mics for ambiance and it was awesome and energetic.

Develop Musicians

Developing our musicians is an investment in enlisting. We want to equip and train the next generation. We want to offer opportunities for musicians in the worship team to grow. We want to help people make it happen. For your worship team, provide resources to practice at home – namely the songs for that week in advance. Invite your team to go participate in another church to get a glimpse of how they might be leading and making music for worship.

Enlist Non-Musical Participation

In our modern era, too many people count only the music as worship! We must not think that way. There are endless ways to invite people into worship ministry – through tech, hospitality and any way people use their gifts to give God praise. And there are ways to enlist people with gifts to participate from the stage in presentational worship leadership. Some ideas may be inviting someone to come up to read or pray. They might paint a picture during a song. Someone could dance, do sign language, or spoken word. A children’s group could come up to clap or play rhythm instruments and join in. Someone could provide great photos for a song during worship. Any of these nonmusical ideas could add to involvement in worship as well as a meaningful inspiration for the congregation.