I am honored to lead the Resources Division at LifeWay and serve with a team of leaders who are passionate to serve the Church in her mission of making disciples. Each Wednesday, I share the heart behind one of the resources our team has developed and give an opportunity for you to register to win a free copy of the resource. This week’s resource is
1. Does my congregation know why they sing?
Since congregational singing is something we are created to do by God, commanded to do in God’s Word, and compelled to do by the gospel of God, then the congregation needs to be taught about it. It’s an area that has had such a lack of clarity in the last generation that churches need their pastors to teach clearly and positively about it, as well as explain that singing isn’t a branding exercise, a warm up for the “main event” of the sermon, nor a means to create an emotional sensation.
2. Is our church singing strong songs?
Find infectious and emotional melodies combined artistically, in which the wonders of the Lord are described in sung poetry, in a way that your church just can’t wait to sing. Every time you sing one of those types of songs, your congregation will be excited to sing! If the song isn’t strong, you’ll know because the singing drops and enthusiasm diminishes.
3. Am I part of the weekly song selection process?
Music may not be your expertise, but songs are often what your people go home remembering and repeating (even if your sermon was great!), so it is important for you to care about what’s being chosen.
4. Am I overseeing the overall selection or “canon” of songs?
Ensure that your church’s song list includes hymns and songs that touch on all the major doctrines and seasons of life, just as the Psalms and historical hymnals do. It can be really easy to pick songs one by one and on their own merits, but you may end up with a narrow range of songs in both their depth and breadth theologically.
5. Am I passionately involved in the singing?
A pastor who seems distracted or half-hearted, or isn’t even in the room, is telling his congregation that singing is not important to him. You should sing to your people, even if you aren’t the one with the microphone. Be present, engaged, and passionate. If you aren’t, then they won’t be either.
6. Am I leading, encouraging, teaching, and building strong relationships with all the musicians?
When you pour into your lead musicians and provide encouragement, they become more informed, in step with the vision and mission of the church, and often much more creative and energized in what they do. Having hard conversations with musicians can be difficult for pastors because musicians tend to be popular, strong, and emotional; but those conversations need to happen because if issues go unchecked, they can become like monsters in a church.
7. Do I regularly encourage the congregation in their singing?
Give your congregation encouragement to sing! Telling stories about what you’ve sung that day and encouraging them to sing to one another as an expression of their gospel unity can be helpful. You can even encourage them to show their gratitude for the support of the music team.
8. Am I encouraging the congregation to prepare for Sunday services?
Encourage and promote your congregation singing together at home and using resources like hymnbooks or bulletins that teach the gospel in their home life. Emailing song lists, YouTube links, or even sheet music that they can pull up on their phone during the week can also be helpful.
9. Am I planning the service order in a sensitive and creative way?
The overall arc of a service should help shape our understanding of the gospel. The beginning of the service should help establish the singing, and the song choice should enhance the message of your passage and what you preach that day.
10. Am I overseeing the development of singing in congregational life?
Part of the vision for your church should include how you would love to see the singing develop. Keep the leadership accountable for those goals; the more you show intention and care for singing in the church, everyone else will too.