Congregational Connection

I have always viewed our worship ministry as one in which we “bring out new treasures as well as old” (Mt 13:52).  We like the old songs, we like the new songs.  A capella, gospel, CCM, EDM-style (even the occasional bluegrass tune).  All options are open to us.  As we have tried to incorporate newer worship songs with newer styles we have also incorporated newer techniques of using some tracked materials, pads and arpeggiators, in-ear monitoring, growing complexity.  When we recently launched a new ministry and split our Sunday service into two locations, this gave us an opportunity to reevaluate some of this.  One of the brothers who is helping to lead worship (and is a big proponent of newer worship music) shared that even though he likes the newer music, he felt with all of the complexity we had lost some of the congregational connection.  Our hearts had become a little too hurried, too caught up in the mechanics of what we were trying to do.  We had grown to have more stress in our set up and rehearsal, as we had become more dependent on technology.  We needed to scale back.

In recent weeks we have been trying to simplify a bit, and focus more on the relationship with the voice of the church.  We have been not trying to do too much with our team in terms of technical complexity.  It has been refreshing and encouraging.  Perhaps I will make a video with that brother I mention above and I discussing this further, but today I just thought I would share this struggle we have had and solicit and comments or advise you may have on this.  How are things going in your church in terms of congregational engagement, joy and peace on the worship team?  Any practices or principles that are helping your group?

As with much in Christianity, I think this is one of those areas where things are held in tension – push/pull.  We push into new musical territory, new technological options and techniques, but then pull back and make sure our whole congregation stays together in unity and praise, bringing God “acceptable worship with reverence and awe” (Heb 12:28).


3 Comments on “Congregational Connection”

  1. Brian, you make some interesting points here. I had a voice student recently from another church who sang on her church’s praise team. They used in ear monitors and actually had tracks playing their vocal parts piped thru their in ears! They did all contemporary music. The set up sounded so complicated! And they did different songs every week. I can’t imagine how they had connection with their congregation.
    Our region of the BOston church is still a bit too old school in my opinion. We do incorporate some new material, but very rarely anything too hip or rockin’.
    But we are catering mostly to the older folks- I think we need to think of the you get one’s too. But most of the time I feel we have pretty good connection to our congregation.
    Things to ponder.
    Julie

  2. JEROME MADAY says:

    In Worcester, we talk about creating a “Cocktail” that mixes the elements you mentioned so that everyone has a chance to participate in the “One Voice” God loves to hear. (Romans 15:6) https://biblehub.com/romans/15-6.htm

    The church needs thorough teaching as well to help them learn HOW to participate – “even if they don’t like a song or style.” https://www.dtodayarchive.org/ministries/worship/item-1944-to-god-s-ears-humility-sings#.Xmea86hKhhE See I Corinthians 14:15 https://biblehub.com/1_corinthians/14-15.htm

    Also, we ask every instrumentalist to sing as well while they play – (except brass / reeds of course). People in the assembly will subconsciously imitate what they see. If any of us serving at the altar aren’t singing, the reluctant disciples will gravitate to that… We are there to LEAD worship- and 98% of that command is “SING his praises”

    NOVA video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xmx1qPyo8Ks

    One other mantra we constantly remind our worship team about in our weekly scripture devos is …. “God loves connection – not perfection” – Connection comes from a broken, contrite heart… Not a self-confident, haughty talented person.

    I love the “Old treasures as well as new” application! Gonna use it!

    Jerry Maday

  3. Mark Hoyle says:

    Brian, great article! Totally understand the delimma your team is facing.
    I recently conducted a worship music survey with the Spokane Christian church. We compiled the results and provided a 1 page summary to the members. The details were enlightening. I wish I could share it all here. We’re seeing that people’s perception of what should make our worship great is weighted towards what is popular today. But as we studied our church during service to see congregational connection, it’s not purely when we do the newer contemporary worship songs.

    For example, a beautiful tradition from the mainline CoC is when the song leader leads a simple acappella song before communion from his seat. I find people connect as much or more than when the whole band/team is on stage playing a song like Oceans.

    I’m also observing (and the data supports) that our church resonates mostly with uptempo contemporary songs (i.e. Let It Rise, Open The Eyes Of My Heart) even though many slower tempo songs resonate with individuals while they are driving or listening at home. All this to say, we are learning what music best connects during our corporate worship time.

    Finally, there are many wonderful acappella arrangements of contemporary worship songs offered by Keith Lancaster and The Acappella Company.


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