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Disengaging from Distance Worship- Eight Simple Things To Keep them Engaged

When it comes to your church’s worship, are they engaged? No, I mean, really, are they engaged? Most worship leaders/pastors, would say no. 

I don’t mean 25% of your people, I mean the whole 100% of them. If your church is like mine, then your answer is a ‘no’. If it’s a yes, then you may need to skip this article.

We all learn by default and mistakes. It’s painful, but clearly the best way. Here are 9 things I’ve learned to better keep the church engaged in worship:

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I don’t mean 25% of your people, I mean the whole 100% of them. If your church is like mine, then your answer is a ‘no’. If it’s a yes, then you may need to skip this article.

We all learn by default and mistakes. It’s painful, but clearly the best way. Here are 9 things I’ve learned to better keep the church engaged in worship:

1) Prepare the worship by prayer: this may sound elementary, but you know as well as I do not everyone of us spends time in worship before we worship. This is critical. Why? You can’t lead people in worship if you haven/t been there yourself. Worship doesn’t begin when the music starts. Worship beings and ends with God. We have the opportunity to engage with him from start to finish. 


2) Make the key and range of the song easy to sing and easy to reach: This may not be a surprise, but are you doing it? We tend to like how our voices sound, but can the church keep up? No because they are not music people, they are real people. You have to meet them where they are, not where you want them to be vocally. Your church has Harry, Sally, Billy Bob and Aunt Ethel, not 2020 top best known worship leaders and worship bands. If the later were true, you probably would not be leading worship, they would.

3) Sing songs people know, don’t spend time teaching: the major time waster in the service is the “need” to teach worship. This is not to be done by the Worship Leader. Why? Because the Senior Pastor should be the teacher of worship; they are the true worship leader/teacher of the flock. Besides, people just want to sing, not hear two sermons. Sing songs people know. I believe we’ve inundated ourselves with music from having 40 top songs to 40,000. People in your church cannot learn songs that quickly, unless you’re Hillsong. The more familiar the song, the more meditative and worshipful because it’s easy. Don’t make people think or learn, just lead them.

4) Stay in an inviting spirit of worship and song - sing with them: This was one of the toughest things I had to learn as a young worship leader some years ago. Ok, many years ago. There is a huge difference between singing with them versus singing at them. No one needs a cheerleader. Your church loves you and knows your voice – that’s all they need to be led. Don’t force your voice or leading abilities, just sing with them and experience the oneness in worship together.

5) Be clear in your direction: vocally and instrumentally for the band and tech: My college Composition Professor told me: If people ask questions or have trouble with the music, it’s because something is not clear. This can be a result from the music or your direction. Take time with your team to fully explain the map of the song and where/how you’re going to end-up. Take time to ask questions. You may never see your flight path, if your head is in the clouds.

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5) Be clear in your direction: vocally and instrumentally for the band and tech: My college Composition Professor told me: If people ask questions or have trouble with the music, it’s because something is not clear. This can be a result from the music or your direction. Take time with your team to fully explain the map of the song and where/how you’re going to end-up. Take time to ask questions. You may never see your flight path, if your head is in the clouds.

6) Know the lyrics of the song and where you are in the music: This is a MAJOR interruption of the service. This is a key factor for me in leading the worship at our church. Know the words. It’s ok to use an iPad, sheet music or backwall to glance at the lyrics, but if you do not know them, neither will your people. How do I deal with this? I try to imagine/prepare myself if the power were to go out. How would I recover? If I truly know the song, I have the knowledge and ability to carry on. This is a true confidence builder for your personal leadership and your team.

7) Make Sure the Band Knows Where to Go: This involves dedicated preparation, practice and planning - both before and at rehearsal. Map out where you want the band to go, yet allow room for creative input. You as the leader need to know where you are going. Your band needs your leadership as well. In your mind’s eye, create a “song picture.” Make your frame, compose a setting and tell the story of the song. Guide the band along the journey and help them paint the picture God is leading you to create. When you’re in the worship service, make your direction clear, connected and consistent. You will find that every good song, tells a good story - so paint the story well.

8) Don’t Stop the Flow: Nothing kills a service more than the awkward dead space of silence, interrupted by a microphone feedback. It’s like a bad car accident with everyone watching and no one wants to remember. Don’t stop the song without having somewhere to go. Keep the motion in flow. On the last bar of the song, have a keyboard or guitar chord/pad into the next song. Let the band fade out and let the transition of the other instruments take over. Lead one instrument/voice at a time, layering your way into the next song. Here’s where you can choose to add-in a short prayer, encouragement or Scripture - keep it brief. Make eye contact with the church, lead and sing with them.

9) “Follow what the Holy Spirit does. You may lead them in worship, but He is the Ultimate Worship Leader.” A good trusted mentor said this to me; I continue to reflect upon his words. Each time I lead a service, I ask myself the question: what will the Holy Spirit do? Then I pray, Lord, lead me to sing the song you are already singing into people. You never know where the worship will take you unless you make God the driver. The service belongs to Him and the worship belongs to Him. May everything we do be accomplished through the Spirit of God.

Worship Team Training
- Branon Dempsey

Copyright 2014 Branon Dempsey | Worship Team Training® | Administered by For His Music. All Rights Reserved. Printed in the United States of America. www.worshipteamtraining.com 

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About the Author: Branon Dempsey is the CEO/Founder and Training Director of Worship Team Training® a ministry providing live workshops and online resources for local worship ministries. Branon holds an M.Div in Worship and BM in Music Composition/Performance and is an instructor with Christian Musician Summit, a writer for Worship Musician Magazine, Shure Notes as well as other worship publications. Branon and is a Training Partner with Yamaha Corporation of America | Worship Resources and part of the Expert Panel for Shure Microphones. Worship Team Training® is sponsored by Creator Leadership Network, Christian Musician / Worship Musician Magazine / Christian Musician Summit, as well as by Line 6, D’Addario, Proclaim Church Presentation Software, iSing Worship and endorsed by Promark Drumsticks and Jim Hewett Guitars. Visit: www.WorshipTeamTraining.com

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