Earning the trust of our congregation is obvious, but sadly at times overlooked. The congregation is the whole reason you are leading worship! As a worship leader, our focus, songs, lyrics, sound volume, stage demeanor, and presentation must all be done with our congregations in mind.
Be A Student of Your People: I know how frustrating it can be when you pour your heart into preparing a set, rehearsing, and praying your guts out to find no one worships. Still, pace for the marathon, not the sprint. Nuture your people, don’t hate them. Find out what pleases your congregation…be a student of your people. Do some songs they like. If they don’t trust you, they won’t respond, your pastors won’t be happy, and neither will you.
Lead Them Instead of Driving Them: If a new song isn’t working, stop doing it. Revival will not come to your church because you do that one new song. It’s just a song. By no means am I saying to cater to immaturity; I continually find ways to stretch our congregation and increase their spiritual attention span. However, don’t shove things down their throat. We must pastor our churches from the worship seat, and that takes patience and care.
Go For Max Participation: The people are not your audience. Congregational worship is all about max participation. Only a very small percentage of humanity can actually sing well, let alone the small sample of humanity that is in your church. Just because a song is recorded in a certain key doesn’t mean it’s more anointed in that key. It just means it’s in a higher key and less people are likely to sing along with you. Recording artists pitch songs high because it sounds pleasant to hear higher voices or less common keys.
Allowing max participation for the congregation builds trust between shepherd and sheep. Then you’ll have currency to stretch them because they like you. Everyone wins (even if you lose your opportunity to sing in the key of H+).
Be Skilled: Skill builds trust between a worship leader and a congregation. If your people are God-hungry but you can’t lead them “deeper” then frustration will arise. There have been times where I’ve felt my congregation was more hungry for God than I was…and it drove me to seek Him more, sharpen my skills, and be a better worship leader. I didn’t want the needs of my church to surpass my ability to serve them. Work on your voice, your playing, your setlists, your craft and the growth will bear good results.
Be Spiritual. Your congregation must trust your spiritual mettle. If they don’t believe you really love God or are a worshiper, why would they follow your leading? Allow your love for God and likeness to Christ be one of the things that draws people to follow you into God’s presence, not your talent or image.
Earning the trust of our congregations will take time, take care, and take wisdom. Ask God to give you the insight of a master-builder so you can see how to best care for the congregation you’ve been entrusted with. Earn their trust!
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