Get A Passive Congregation Active In Worship
Many people who have not grown up in a church that is expressive in their worship have been trained by their former church experience to just sit in their seat during worship and watch and listen to the worship team. They do this looking forward to the sermon, not realizing that they are missing out on engaging the Most High in very very amazing spiritual intercourse during the worship and praise time.
When I first joined a worship team on stage as a singer, I looked at the congregation during the worship and praise time, and I was shocked that there were so many passive spectators in a church that is suppose to be a worshiping church. I had no way of knowing this before that time because I was an active worshiper on the front row and I had no idea what was going on in the rest of the church because I was lost in HIS presence on the front row during worship and had no idea that the rest of the church was so inactive.
When we are just practicing ritualism and the best we can do is just sing along here and there during the worship time, whether we are Pentecostals or Baptists or Lutherans our heart may be at the root of the problem. Worship that amounts to just twenty minutes of singing may be considered vain and unacceptable to God, for Jesus says in Matthew 15:8, "These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me." If their heart was in it, they would be dancing too in my opinion and they would not complain about having long worship services.
One cure for the heart attitude is to count our blessings daily and concentrate on the positives instead of concentrating on the negatives. In the book of Colossians the secret is given for the kind of attitude of heart that brings about enthusiastic praise to God. The author tells us that "singing to God with gratitude in your hearts" ( Colossians 3:16 - NIV ) is the way to sing songs and hymns and spiritual songs to the Lord.
This cure is confirmed in Ephesians where Paul writes: "...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." (Ephesians 5: 19 and 20) I believe that this cure for worship of walking in constant thanksgiving before the Lord has been overlooked by the church and it is about time Pastors help their congregations to see that it is a cure for weak worship.
I also believe that a person who dances around in the presence of God is more likely to have a heart that is seeking after God or has gratitude toward God than a person who passively sits in the congregation and attempts to sing along here and there. Someone who is so caught up in the presence of God and dances around because it is coming from his or her heart to do so, is doing more than just honoring God with their lips. They are honoring God with their whole being, spirit, soul, and body. They are engaged in whole person worship because they are loving God with their whole heart, whole soul, all their strength, and their whole mind.
True revival in the heart of each person in the congregation precedes true whole person worship through each one. If everyone had a heart after God's own heart like King David did then we could have a congregation of dancers and not just those that give lip service ( lip worship through just singing ). A congregation of Davids who are expressive praisers is much more threatening to the kingdom of darkness than a bunch of passive singers. Pray for revival in your church and minister in such a way to support revival in the hearts of your congregation. The founder's own personal revival experience is found in paragraph seven on this page.
Another way to encourage a congregation to become creative praise expression worshipers is to limit the new songs that are introduced to the congregation and limit songs that are complicated. If the congregation is forever being exposed to a roster of songs that are new or quite new and are also complicated, then they will forever be a congregation of song learners rather than a congregation of people who know the songs they are singing and can then abandon themselves to the Spirit of God who can guide them and lead them into creative praise expressions. How to select easier worship songs is found here > Click here.
In the Charismatic renewal that swept the churches in the 1970s and 1980s there were a lot of participants in the congregations that were touched by the Spirit of God. The reason there was so much participation on the part of people in the congregation I believe is because the Internet was not yet, and so the number of songs that people were exposed to were much less, therefore, a very limited amount of songs were sung over and over again and the people knew the songs and thus could develop a concentration on the Lord in worship instead of always concentrating on learning new songs. Does that make sense?
Furthermore, the best way to guarantee that your congregation turns into a bunch of spectators is to hire a group of professional singers and musicians who all play professionally and sing in beautiful harmony and this will guarantee that your congregation loses further desire to participate because they will want to sit back and listen to the professionals instead of being engaged in participatory worship. Pastors, please invest some time instead into the congregation by providing a way for the congregation to practice the songs in time for the congregational worship time so that the congregation can know the songs and sing them without being distracted by having to learn so many songs on Sunday morning.
It can be done if your church has a master account with the online tool called the Planning Center, you could provide a church password to the congregation that would be advertised in the church weekly bulletin. This password can be used by anyone in the church to access the songs within the planning center that will be sung the following Sunday. You can suggest to the congregation that they practice the songs during their daily devotions or as a family time in preparation for the Sunday service. This will produce a worshiping congregation rather than one that is fumbling at the words and melody on Sunday morning.
I also think that two new songs a month is enough for the congregation to grapple with and the rest of the songs sung can be those that the congregation has already learned. That way the congregation can sing songs they know and can concentrate more on entering into a spiritual connection with the Most High through praise dancing and not have to be so preoccupied with learning songs. The congregation can be invited in the church bulletin to the worship team practice so they can sing along with the worship team and learn the songs in this way also besides being given access to a special section in the planning center where they can learn the songs from down loadable PDFs and You Tube videos.
Also, during the worship time on Sunday morning etc. the person who is leading worship can verbally encourage the congregation to raise their hands, or to wave their arms back and forth during a certain song, or ask the ladies to sing the first verse and the men to sing the second verse of an appropriate song. By verbally encouraging the congregation to be involved and implementing creative ways for the congregation to get involved, the congregation will then have less incentive to passively sit in their seats and they will have more incentive to be active praisers.