Why your church doesn’t sing… and what you can do to fix it (Part 4)

I admit it… I may be the most un-hip guy on the planet.

This became immediately clear when I stopped by a local high school recently and I saw up-close what pop-culture looks like. If that’s hip, then I’m not!

Hip is a hot topic in worship circles these days and much of the new music coming out for churches reflects it. Worship Leaders are wrestling with the question of whether certain styles of music for congregational worship are just keeping with the times, or creating a culture of congregational onlookers and worship team performers?

Recently I kicked off this new series about what has become one of the major issues facing worship leaders and churches today: the decline of congregational singing.

Let’s face it… more and more congregations are singing “less and less”.
This new series is about identifying what’s keep YOUR congregation from singing and helping you remove the roadblocks to genuine worship engagement in your services.
We’ve already talked about music being to high and too hard. And today we’re going to look at the third reason your congregation isn’t singing…

Recently in the Worship Leader Gold Network Monthly Leadership and Strategy Call I talked about this topic of congregational singing and taught 7 important lessons from John Wesley for how to encourage your congregation to sing.

Gain access to that Leadership Session and instantly receive $813.20 in FREE Bonus resources when you join Worship Leader Gold TODAY!  Plus, receive additional coaching sessions, dozens of Ministry and Leadership Book summaries, and much, much more in your personalized Worship Leader Gold Hub. I’ve put the complete details in the PS below, so keep reading to learn more! 


I grew up in the 80’s, so that puts me on the back side of thirty-something. I’m married with two kids who roll their eyes at my jokes. I have a full-time job, a yard to mow and a shaven head by necessity rather than stylistic choice.

And while I am a musician, and desperately trying to hold on to some of the “cool” I think I once had, I find more and more that I’ve become… normal.
And guess what… so are most of the people in my congregation.  I would venture to say that’s the case for most worship leaders.

There’s nothing wrong with being hip… I wish I was more hip. 

But being too hip, especially in your music choices on Sunday, can make your congregation feel like I did that day I stepped foot on the high school campus: on the outside looking in.
So… how to do you remain musically relevant while not alienating the people you’re reaching?
Simply stated: Design your music to reflect who you are and who you are trying to reach.
Have you ever seen a rock band try to play polka?  Or a country band try to play metal?  Sure it makes for a funny YouTube video, but not a good concert.
The same is true in your church.  If you and your band are not a bunch of 20-year-old pop-culture keyboard whizkids then you’re only doing yourself and your church a disservice to try and do a dance/pop/techno style of music.
You should tailor the music to the group of musicians you have in your church to play it.  If you try to be something your not the congregation will be watching and wondering rather than worshiping.
In “The Purpose Driven Church” Rick Warren wrote that the style of music you choose for your church “may be the most influential factor in determining who your church reaches for Christ and whether or not your church grows. You must match your music to the kind of people God wants your church to reach.”
Therefore the style of music that you lead in your church should reflect who you are trying (and I might add “most able”) to reach.
When we started The Journey in New York City I found out what the most popular radio stations in New York were.  We then tailored the sound of our music to fit those styles in order to help us reach as many people as possible for Christ.
Who has God called your church to reach in your community? Talk with your pastor and design your music to reach those people.

Remember our key verse for this series from Ephesians 5:19-20.  Here Paul instructs the church to, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

When you understand who you are and who you are best able to reach in your community, you will select songs that the congregation can (and wants to) sing. And you will do your part to help the church fulfill this command and sing worship to the Lord.
Your partner in ministry,

TUESDAY MORNING INSIGHTS is Jason Hatley’s free weekly training resource specifically designed to provide you as a worship leader with proven principles, tips and practices to help you lead a healthy and thriving Worship Arts Team.

About Jason Hatley and Worship Leader Insights
In 2002, Jason Hatley helped launch The Journey Church in New York City, directing the programming of their worship services. He serves as the Pastor of Worship Arts and built from scratch The Journey’s worship arts team, a group of over 200 artists and technicians who develop and implement the creative and technical elements at weekly Sunday services. The Journey has been recognized as one of Outreach Magazines fastest growing and most creative churches.

Jason has been a worship leader since 1996. He invests in Worship Pastors around the country through interactive coaching networks and worship planning resources. He has been a featured break-out speaker at the Willow Creek Arts Conference, The Purpose Drive Worship Conference, as well as seminars around the country. He has a B.M. in Sacred Music Performance from Appalachian State University.

Jason is the author of Engage: A Guide to Creating Life-Transforming Worship Services and Revolve: A New Way to See Worship as well as over a dozen worship leader personal and ministry growth resources.

Jason and his family currently live in Boca Raton, FL where he serves as the Pastor of Worship Arts at The Journey’s newest campus in South Florida.