(pic credit: Beautiful Wings ©2017 by Crisbaj. Used with permission)

FROM PART 1…When congregational singing drowns out the worship band… job well done, lead worshippers!!

(Part 2 of 2)

A ‘Church resource’ website cite the ‘results of a large survey of worship leaders’ (I couldn’t find the data report, but…) lists the largest frustration of worship leaders… greater than 50%… is… Congregations don’t participate in ‘worship’.


I’m going to be provocative.

I’m going to say some strong things.

I’m going to say some things you may not agree with.

In this blog, I am going to challenge every ‘worship pastor’ to test their congregation, and find out what percentage of the people are actually singing.


Here’s the first set of strong things to be said:

^Since it is Biblical for the Church to sing congregationally (Eph 5:17-20, Col 3:15-17), if less than 90% of the Congregation is singing… the ‘music/worship ministry’ is failing.

^If less than 90% of the Congregation is singing… the Congregation is not ‘the problem’.

^ Since systems theory says that any operational production and delivery is perfectly designed to deliver the results the operation is experiencing… if less than 90% of the Congregation is singing, then you, O worship pastor, O worship band and O church’s ‘worship arts ministry’… you are doing a hundred things that are directly inhibiting and prohibiting those wonderful people in the Congregation from singing.


There are two basic church ‘realities’ related to Congregational worship singing… the [a] group and the [b] group:

[a] churches are all about community, the people of God gathered, the shared story of Christ’s redemption flowing in and among the relationships in that Body, the corporate expression of love and gratitude for God’s manifest Mercy, Grace and Presence through the week, the worship ministry serving the community by putting out words and music of thankfulness for all to sing… everybody singing is the important metric… and the music ministry makes that easy to happen.

[b] churches are all about ‘professionalism’ and performance, looking good, providing entertainment, staging a show, smoke-and-mirrors, competing with the other ‘churches’ in that region, dress-to-impress, “wow’ factor, look good for the cameras… possibly a ‘cult of personality’ leadership… possibly stuck-in-the-mud r/t culture or tradition… usually bought into the ‘theological idea’ that ‘professional worship’ is somehow an important way to ‘reach’ and ‘connect’ with ‘this generation’ and grow the church… usually stuck in spending huge amounts of time and $$$ on gear, staging, lights, video, sound systems, etc…

It is easy to apply metrics within ‘congregational singing’ behaviors to determine what church is an [a] church or a [b] church.

The [b] church:

…will have a few people out in the congregation belting it out, but for the most part, the performance ethic will stun most people into silence, and there will be various levels of corporate singing… mostly not, usually +/- 35% gross overall participation.

…the constant ‘new set list’ with the newest and coolest tunes leaves most of the congregation in the dust, while the band is stoked about ‘killin’ it’ that week. The congregation won’t even have caught up from last week’s flurry of new tunes, let alone the never-repeated, catchy songs-of-the-week.

…the song lyrics will utilize repetitious phrases, usually with pop-tune-popular buzzes to align with the pop-culture. ‘Deep theological’ songs are usually stepped over, preferring ‘catchy lyrical hooks’.

…the actual musical keys that the songs are in are set to match the featured singer, making most music ‘out-of-reach’ for most Congregational singers.

The [a] church:

…will have, through leadership, prayer and discussion, built a careful ‘vernacular’ of praise-and-worship music with the people, so that there is a VOICE with lyrics to the corporate expression each week. There will be 40-50 songs that >90% of the people will know the first verse and the chorus ‘by heart’, and sing out.

…will lean heavy into songs and hymns with deep, profound, Biblically-based truths and sound theology.

… will introduce a new song after careful decision, and it’s usually limited to one per month, and good educational practices used to help everyone learn and internalize it.

… will avoid ‘flashy’ solos, instrumentals and songs in keys un-singable to regular people (i.e, most of the congregation)…

…special music is relegated to occasional pot-luck-talent shows or the Christmas cantata.

…song keys will be chosen within established, sing-able ‘Congregational ranges’.

… will repeat, rotate and sing songs regularly, weaving them in-and-out of the on-going ethos of the life of the people… but the depth and meaning of those songs are plumbed and mined for all they are worth, enlivened through the on-going preaching and teaching.


The fundamental metrics:

The [a] church, over 90% of the congregation is singing.

The [b] church, +/- 35% participation… on a good Sunday.


So, here is the way to TEST your congregational percentage of participation:

<>For three (3) consecutive Sundays, and at each service (for churches with multiple services each Sunday), there will be a ‘planned-but-unannounced outage’ in the middle of the second verse and through the chorus of a main song. Total stage silence… no mics, no amplification, no PA. [Have the sound-board tech drop the Mains and Monitors completely out for this test. Be sure all stage amps and powered monitors drop out as well.].

<>Post observers along the sides of the auditorium/room, each to count the total number of people in their observational area (denominator) before the TEST, then count the number of people singing the song through the second verse and chorus at the ‘planned outage’ (numerator).

Example: Observer Sue was studying a group of 50 people. At the ‘planned outage’, only 18 people were singing. This would be 18/50, or 36% of that section were singing at the time of the TEST that week.


Seriously… the ‘planned-but-unannounced outage’ TEST has proven to be the only way to obtain real data on a particular Congregation’s singing. [Meaning, “Oh, I know my Congregation…” without some test usually yields a significant over-estimation of singing participation…]

Resource:  Here is Calvin College School of Music’s basic primer on leading congregational singing, including ‘Congregational Keys’:



I defer to a blog by Pastor Tim Challies…

This blog post also resonating our current theme…

Praise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song,
his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.   Psalm 149:1


written by crisbaj

© 2017 by crisbaj/  All rights reserved.

All Scripture references from New International Version unless otherwise indicated.

If you re-post or use material from this blog, please be honest and give author citation +  as the  source… thanks!!


Scriptural References (to meditate and plumb):

Eph 5:17-20

17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (NIV)

Col 3:15-17

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  (NIV)