Monday, 8 February 2010

12 Way To Increase Congregation Participation (Pt. 3)




What can worship teams and worship leaders those do to encourage more Spiritual gifts from the congregation in their worship times? How can they help and not hinder? For the last few weeks I’ve been sharing some of the lessons learnt in the first 7 years of Grace Church. The topics already covered

  • Realise that some churches are too big for the congregation to contribute. It’s just that your church isn’t one of them.
  • Rehearse for every Sunday not just next Sunday.
  • Turn the volume down.
  • Chop your worship leader into little pieces.
  • Practice spontaneous contributions over and over again.
  • Pick the best songs and sing them a lot.
  • Brace yourself for the trainwreck. 

Read the other posts here - part one, part two, part four


Time for a few more...


Plan to fail.

Planning plays a major role in the outcome of a Sunday. Generally we get what we plan for. So it's somewhat futile to pursue the spontaneous inspiration of the Spirit in our meetings if we plan those meetings down to the last second. If your Church's worship time generally last 3o minutes and you pick thirty minutes worth of songs you will not get any spontaneous contributions from the congregation. Why? Because they will have to actively derail your train just to get a word in and the vast majority of your folks are just too nice to try such a dastardly stunt.

What’s the answer? Plan to fail if no one contributes. Make it public knowledge that you have only planned 10 minutes of singing for your 30 minutes slot. (Or 15 or 20 or whatever your pain threshold/level of faith is). If no one from the congregation takes part they can expect a combination of a long embarrassing silences and the band winging a bunch of hastily chosen songs. So now when people pray out, prophesy, start a song –they won’t see themselves as part of the problem but part of the solution. Throws a whole different light on contributing - yes?



Lower your standards.


We all would like to lead meetings filled with high quality offerings, every prayer passionate & eloquent, every prophecy profound, every song beautifully pitched and the whole thing flowing together like a symphony of praise. But no Church and no Christian starts out that way and if we ever want to taste such feasts of worship we have to be content with more humble fare as well.


Spiritual gifts, like any other, get better with practice, if not in content or inspiration at least in confidence and delivery. And the only place to practice for most people is in the public meeting. So remember “the Father is seeking Worshippers” not great times of worship and he thought Haggai’s “I am with You declares the LORD” was profound enough prophecy to make the Bible shortlist. So be more Godly and lower your standards.

Thank people for interrupting you.


 Let people know the rules. If you are seeking contributions from the congregation during the worship set you have to tell them that it’s OK to butt in. You have to tell them often and in a number of creative ways. One of the best ways to give people permission to interrupt you is to thank those who do face to face, immediately after the meeting.

Here are some other ways:

Explain at the start that people are allowed to join in & without overloading them with info you might like to give instructions on how things are to be done (members only? From the pews? Wrestle an Elder for the mic?). No jargon. Imagine the congregation is autistic – they are very intelligent but have no understanding of abstract concepts.

Give prizes for good contributions. I used to hand out stickers that said “The worship team likes me” to people who started songs in the right key. Because the band would then pick up the song instantly and everyone would regard us with awe saying “You are truly Worship Ninjas” That’s gotta be worth a lousy sticker.

If people really screw it up laugh it off. Everyone should know that the only heinous crimes against worship are serious heresy and serial showoffs. If someone started that song so out of key that you had to stop and minister inner-healing to the keyboard player before continuing say afterwards “hey thanks! we’ve been practicing how to transpose smoothly into the right key and you gave us a training opportunity right here on a Sunday.”


Tune in next Monday for the final instalment.

What’s worked for you in encouraging more contributions. What’s the biggest challenges you face at the moment?



Related Posts: 12 ways to increase congregation particpation part one,
part two
part four

1 comment:

  1. Nice going Matt: good points, well made and with humour too. I'm going to link to this series from my blog.

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