“Wasn’t worship amazing? It seemed like everyone’s hands were in the air and everyone was singing their guts out.” I’ve said something like that about a worship service before, and if you’re a pastor, so have you. Or you’ve said the opposite, “Man, hardly anyone was singing today.” Or, “Hardly anyone raised their hands.” We act as if the quality of worship is dependent on how many sing or who raises their hands. But I’ve got news for us pastors, not everyone should be singing in our church and I have 3 reasons why.
1. If everyone is singing in your church you might not be reaching lost people — Yes, it sounds and feels amazing at a night of worship in our church as the entire room seems to erupt in praise to God. It’s moments like that that give us little tastes of Heaven I think, but there is a distinct difference between heaven and earth. In heaven, the only people there will be saved people. People who have put their faith in Jesus. Now, if you want your church to only have saved people in it, then by all means, you want 100% participation, but if we expect lost people to be in our church how do we expect them to sing to a God they don’t believe in or have never met? I actually like the phrase “dead people” better for this. The only way my heart can truly worship is if it has been made alive by the Holy Spirit. So if everyone is singing in your church, you probably aren’t reaching dead people. Jesus said that He came to seek and to save the lost, so that means there should be some lost people in our services who have no desire to sing. They might one day, but hopefully they’ll be singing while standing next to the person they brought who isn’t singing because they don’t yet believe.
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2. If everyone is singing in your church you might not be reaching new people — There are literally thousands of amazing worship songs available to the church today. Gone are the days of only having songs bound in a hymnal. Today, new worship music is being released by the month which only adds to the crazy selection of songs we have to sing. Pastor Jared, our worship pastor at Element Church, does an amazing job of selecting a limited number of songs from a pre-selected song bank for a set period of time. He has a very clear process of when and how to introduce a new song, how many times we introduce new songs, how many weeks in between introducing songs, etc. It’s quite the ordeal. One of the reasons he does this is because he knows that engaging with the music increases the more familiar our people are with a song. That’s why when you hear a new song at Element one week, you’re probably going to hear it again the following week and again a couple weeks after that. But that only benefits the people who are regulars in our church. If someone new comes to town, someone is changing churches, or is returning to church after a time away, they may not know any of the songs we are familiar with. Most people don’t, or even can’t sing a song that they don’t know. It’s too difficult and uncomfortable. One of the signs that you have new people among you is that not everyone is singing the songs. Now again, if you don’t want to reach new people, then by all means seek 100% involvement. But a selection of people in your church who are not singing can actually be a sign of healthy things.
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3. If everyone in your church is singing you might not be reaching different people — I’m not sure if you noticed or not, but people are different. We look different, talk different, dress different and yes, we even have different ways we engage in worship. I’m a very expressive and passionate worshiper. I sing very loud (it’s a family thing) and I express very passionately. I’m a hand raising, head bobbing, body swaying, feet moving, white man dancing worshiper. Sometimes I’ll clap my hands in praise in the middle of a song. Sometimes I’ll hoot and holler. Does that mean someone who doesn’t do that isn’t worshiping as “good” as me? A great worship set is not determined by how many people sing or how many hands are raised. There are some people, when they are most moved by God they are moved to silence. There are others who may not be comfortable with the style of music but they love the mission of the church, so they don’t sing as much or sing as loud. We are different people therefore we worship in different ways.
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Lost people, new people and different people. Our churches should be full of them, therefore not everyone may sing…and that’s ok!