Ever feel like there's a disconnect between you and your congregation?
Maybe you've noticed that it seems like you and the band are doing a fine job on the songs but people in the crowd don't seem interested. It's a pretty lousy feeling, driving home after church and not knowing how to connect with your people.
But don't get discouraged! There are some things that you can do to be more intuitive when it comes to leading worship.
BE INTENTIONAL (ABOUT EVERYTHING)
It's so easy to get into a rut when we're leading worship. (We stand up here, we say this, the preacher walks up at this time, etc.) That doesn't mean we shouldn't have a liturgy in what we're doing (we should) but it does mean that it's easy for us to do many of these things without thinking. Everything we do in that worship time should have a reason.
Song choice, prayer time, sound mix, video cues, announcements - all that stuff should be planned and led by people who are thinking "How does this contribute to the corporate worship of God in this time?" Some of those are easy to answer, but you might be surprised how many other things get done just because.
LOOKING IS BETTER THAN LISTENING
I love in-ear monitoring, but even with crowd mics, it's hard to accurately know if your people are singing. Even if you don't use in-ear monitors, it's likely your house mix (and/or wedges) are too loud for you to sufficiently hear if people are singing along. Look, don't listen.
I'm a big proponent of keeping music volume mixed low enough so that I can hear the congregation (and they can hear themselves) but that's tricky and we don't always have it figured out. But I can see. If I'll open my eyes and look at my people, I'll know immediately if they're singing or not. Yes, it's awkward for a lot of us, but it's worth it. You wanna' know how they feel about you, LOOK.
MUSIC IS YOUR TOOL, NOT YOUR PRODUCT
This is actually the premise of the most recent episode of the podcast and I encourage to listen for some practical tips on the subject, but let's talk about big picture for a second. One of the reasons we feel disconnected from our people is that we believe that music is the center point of the the worship set. Many of us think that we're supposed to build great product - songs that are compelling and singable and emotional and well-played and professionally mixed - so that the product will motivate and illicit response from our people, ideally worship. But I think that's wrong.
The focal point of your song set is the people. They're the ones we're trying to get to sing and focus their attention on the Father. The music we play should be the response to that. We should be leading in a way that responds to what our people are feeling, needing to say, etc. We get it backwards and when we do, people notice. People can tell the difference between giving them a product and responding to where they are in their lives.
If you want to lead in a more connected, intuitive way, ask God to help you reshape some of these bad worship-leading habits. He'll do it! He wants you to be good at worship leading, too!