Over at the 9Marks blog, Jonathan Leeman provides some tips for how to help your congregation sing. I would qualify some of his comments, but most of his tips are very good. Here are the tips, but head over there to see his full explanations. I’ve added a few comments in brackets.
- Teach the congregation the importance of worshipping God in song.
- Encourage thoughtful, purposeful singing through private and public prayer.
- Make sure the congregation knows why they are singing the chosen song.
- Choose “congregational” rather than “performance” songs.
- Please, oh please, turn up the lights.
- Please, oh please, turn down the musical accompaniment.
- Consider the dangers of highly rehearsed and “excellent” music, as well as heavy instrumentation.
- Look for a balance between new songs and old songs.
- Use songs that represent a broad range of human experience and emotion.
- Vary the way a song is sung. [This is not so important to me as it feeds the contemporary need for “novelty.” I would rather cultivate an appreciation for tradition. However, there is certainly nothing wrong with occasional variety.]
- Where possible, arrange chairs or pews with some facing each other and not just the stage. [I am a huge proponent of this.]
- Consider the room’s acoustics. [Yes! Contemporary, “theater” styled churches give no consideration to this these days.]
- Perhaps place musicians and singers to the side for a season. [Or, put them in the back! That’s what we do in our church.]
- Model enthusiastic singing. [I’m not so concerned with what “enthusiastic” implies these days, but I agree that the pastors need to model active singing.]
- Print the music, pick songs with good parts, and look for other ways to promote musical literacy. [Wow! I’m thrilled Leeman said this.]
- Hold a singing class. [Ditto.]
- Occasionally sing a cappella.
- Regularly remind the congregation that they are the primary instrument in corporate worship.
Any tips you would add?