“Why Has My Congregation Stopped Singing?” published

The American Church Magazine just published an article I wrote called “Why Has My Congregation Stopped Singing?” It’s a practical article about things churches can do to increase participation in worship. I visit so many churches every year, and I see the same things over and over again – I just felt compelled to write it. Now that I have, the response has been tremendous! It was a real struggle for me to keep it to the length the magazine asked for. Maybe I should make it a book?

You can find it here – let me know what you think and what your church does well or could improve in the comments!

12 Responses to ““Why Has My Congregation Stopped Singing?” published”

  1. Laurie says:

    Hi Jennifer. This article is so good. It verbalizes things that I could never explain about times that I am unenthused as a member of the congregation AND it has technical reasons to separate musicianship from worship.

    Good music enhances worship but it should not be a distraction from God’s message. Too loud, too enthusiastic or too repetitive make worship music a concert, not a sharing event.

    Our music leader works hard to segue into the worship team with prayer and mini-messages. That helps keep the focus and theme for the day’s sermon.

  2. Heidi says:

    Great article! However, some churches are purposely doing the very things that make the congregation stop singing.

  3. Donna says:

    Our church is amazing with our singing. We do all kinds of songs. We have them posted on Facebook by one of members. Right now we are doing VBS today was the 1st day. At church we try and find songs that r not to.fast or slow. Everyone enjoys the songs. You can even get on the Maranatha web page and see all.we.are doing.
    Have a fun n safe trip and God bless.
    Thank.for the book it has open my eyes more with my son who has Autism… 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
    Donna Jones

  4. Sharon says:

    I am interested in finding out more about the worship services you are participating in as I have not found evidence in command or example in the church of the New Testament of using mechanical musical instruments in worship to God. Can you direct me to a passage showing this so I can know that my worship is pleasing to God?

  5. Debra Pacitti says:

    Hi Jennifer: A really great article about worshipping the Lord. I find that the church I am in that the musics coincides with the message. I feel a lot of that has to do with pray for the pastors of worship and preaching. That definitely makes a difference in how people respond to the topic at hand. Also the holy spirit works in different ways each week so that what is being preached this week may be good but not apply to my life today but other weeks boy does it it the nail on the head and are very convicted. The holy spirit has to do its work as well. Overall a great article and so true.

  6. jennifer says:

    Thanks, Debra! For some reason I didn’t see the comments on this blog before, sorry, but I totally agree with you about the Holy Spirit – I am so grateful for the numerous times there were and are connections in a worship service that I never intended and knew God had the best plan. 🙂

  7. jennifer says:

    Hi, Sharon, well, that’s not really possible as there were no mechanical instruments at the time the Bible was written. But there are plenty of examples of people using available instruments to praise God, and worship is more a matter of the heart toward God than the specific method.

  8. jennifer says:

    Hi, Donna, so glad that the worship is so uplifting at your church! It is truly one of the joys of the church that we get to worship together. 🙂 And I’m so glad my book was helpful – thanks for letting me know, and blessings on your parenting!

  9. jennifer says:

    Thanks, Heidi – I know, and yet, I’m not always sure they realize that will be the effect it has. I’m hoping this will help!

  10. jennifer says:

    Thanks, Laurie, I totally agree with you, and I am so glad your worship is so integrated with the message. You are so right that it should never be a distraction from what God is saying.

  11. Jennifer,

    What a refreshing article. My dear wife and I wondered if we were on an island with our belief system.

    As home bound missionaries, we visit two different churches each Sunday. So, we are exposed to a variety of Worship styles. I often say, “We are traditionalists, but we are not mad about it”! 🙂

    Here is what we see about 6-9 times per month:

    1. Half the congregation comes in late or stays out in the common area to fellowship and drink coffee.
    2. The half that attend do not sing, but are engaged in some ‘act’ of worship (hands raised, swaying back and forth, etc.).
    3. The excited worshiper can be distracting when taken to an extreme. There is more than one occasion when a worshiper will bump into us or I have had my head nearly taken off by an excited congregant. Sometimes the music and lighting has an effect on people. Excited members often block the screen so the words cannot be seen.
    4. The artificial smoke represents something that I am not sure about. If I am “clouded” by the smoke, I’m sure it may effect someone else.
    5. It is hard for amateur musicians like my wife and I to locate the harmony in P&W songs. Some praise teams have one harmonizing voice or a very loud base player, but that is not as helpful as a piano or ( Heaven forbid ) an organ.
    6. The drums / percussion is turned up so loud that the praise team cannot be heard. Words on the screen(s) help, but that is not always easily read.
    7. Brass instruments are also miced up too loud. There is a reason Broadway shows and Operas have an orchestra PIT. People stop singing when they cannot hear themselves.
    8. You have mentioned about the pitch being too high. Let me echo that statement…THE PITCH IS TOO HIGH.
    9. Entertainment is the running theme in most high-level productions. The focus is all on the praise team or artist. He may say Praise the Lord, but that is not what is witnessed.
    10. Evangelism seems to be the motivation behind a lot of the shift in music style. “We are not your grandmother’s church.” is often quoted. Yet, I find many of these churches draining good churches of their members and baptizing very few. I have heard baptismal candidates say that they were saved and baptized before, but wanted to do it again for ___ reason.
    11. Most contemporary music caries a repetitive lyric (seven/eleven). People quit singing the same words over and over…this leads me to think the music leader is trying to drive home a point and that is that his music performance is more important than anything else. Personally, I would like to hear five more minutes of preaching than a repetitive lyric that I have already validated in my heart.
    12. Some P&W singers are not singers. They tend to be a note or two below (flat) the melody. People do not like to sing with someone who has little or no musical training (i.e. self taught).
    13. All of this makes me wonder; if the music is supposed to attract people to worship our Heavenly Father, then why is it so controversial and divisive?

  12. One more thing. Churches who play loud music will have a deaf ministry in about 20 years1 🙂

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