If you have been leading worship for any amount of time you have likely led before an unresponsive group. If this is true for you, you understand the frustration and disappointment it can cause to everyone on your team. So, how should you respond when you find yourself in this situation?
1. Never take it personally.
Our role as worship leaders is to invite people to worship. You cannot force those you are leading to engage, so do not become offended if people do not respond. It is important that you remember that we do not have the ability or the responsibility to make worship occur, that is the role of the Holy Spirit. We simply need to remind people of God’s character (through song, scripture reading, prayer, etc) and provide a method through which they can respond to Him in worship.
2. Acknowledge that you are not in control
This may seem to simple, but we must rely on God to lead people in worship. Please do not hear trying to downplay the importance of your musical preparation. As a musician you need to rehearse and “play skillfully” to the Lord (Psalm 33:3). But, when we lead we must recognize our need for the Holy Spirit’s movement and accept that we cannot make worship happen. Our greatest preparation as worship leaders is done on our knees in prayer.
Here are two great prayers for you and your team as you prepare to lead others in worship:
- God manifest your presence during our service so that people cannot ignore the movement of Your Holy Spirit.
- Bind the enemy from creating any distractions that might hinder people from experiencing Your presences.
3. Control your emotions
When you are leading a group that is not responding in worship, it can be easy to want to criticize them or slip into the mindset that says, “Lord, help me just get through this!” When you find yourself slipping into that mindset, FIGHT IT! Focus your heart on the words you are singing. Offer up quick prayers for those you are leading.
4. Take time to evaluate
After the service ends, take time with your team and/or youth pastor to consider some of the causes for the lack of engagement. As a team, spend time praying and asking God to reveal why you are not seeing Him move in the way you hoped. Also, make a point to talk with those you are leading. Find out what might be causing a disconnect during your worship gatherings. When you have an idea of what might be the issue(s), brainstorm ways you and your team fix them and encourage people to focus their attention on the Lord.
5. Constantly point people back to Lord
This is exactly what Moses and Aaron had to do in Exodus 4:29-31. They reminded the people of who God was and all that He had done for them, and when the people heard their words, they believed and responded in worship. We have no idea where people might be when they come to church, but as a worship leaders we need to direct people’s attention to what God has done for them and pray that they will respond in worship.
The Lord’s movement in the hearts of His people is what leads them to worship. Songs and well developed lyrics act only as an aid to help us, and those we are leading, communicate love, adoration and affection to Lord. God draws people to Himself. We need to be leaders who place their trust in the Almighty God who can do more than we can ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20), and seek to faithfully point people towards the One who is worthy of their worship.