3 Reasons People Don't Sing

Today I led worship at New Harvest Church in Salem, Oregon. It is a church full of people I grew up with and the first church where I consistently led worship for the adult services on Sunday morning. You could say I cut my teeth at New Harvest. It was great to be back and great to partner with my dad in the services. Here was the set:

  • Prelude: Reign in Us
  • All Because of Jesus (A)
  • Beautiful One (D)
  • Responsive Reading
  • Better is One Day (E)
  • Jesus Paid it All (B)
  • Special: I Will Lift My Eyes (A, Bebo Norman)
  • The message was on Matthew 11:25-30
  • Made Me Glad (Bb)
  • Came to My Resuce (C)

Wow…that was a lot of music. What is even crazier is that because it was the same songs in each service, I had to learn more songs last weekend. My head hurts just to think about all the songs from the past 2 weeks.

Overall it was a great morning. I thought the band did great and it is always fun to sing with Rose.

One thing was in my thoughts as I walked away from the church…A lot of people don’t sing on worship songs. The very last thing I want when I lead worship, is for people to be disengaged and not singing.

Leading today I felt like plenty of the people were not singing, just staring. It would be different if they were in a posture of worship and not singing, but most often I just see people staring at the screen or at the band. And believe me, this is a problem at more churches than just New Harvest (including my church home). Here are 3 reasons or thoughts of mine, of why people don’t sing. You could also read it as 3 ways to create a culture in a church where people disengage and don’t sing.

  1. Do too many new songs. I don’t have a rule of thumb of how many new songs are too many. I think some churches can handle more than others. Too many forces people not to sing because they never feel comfortable with the song.
  2. Do performance songs. I don’t have a rule of thumb of what makes a song a performance song instead of a worship song, but I think of it as one with a big instrumental solo and/or hard to sing lyrics. For most people an instrumental turns into staring at the band and hard to sing lyrics make people feel stupid because they can’t sing them right.
  3. Leading the stage, not the seats. Leading worship can be a terrifying thing sometimes. It can be quite easy to just lead the other vocalists and the band instead of encouraging the congregation to sing and adding something to the songs. My worst habit is to just sing the songs and call it good. I hide my fear of leading the congregation by rarely talking. Somehow worship leaders need to strike a balance between leading the congregation too much and becoming a distraction and only leading the band.

Why do you think people don’t sing at church?

(Sunday Setlists)