Why You Are Losing The Men In Worship – And Most Others
Over the years there has been a steady decline in congregations in singing. This decline has been especially large amongst males but also affecting females. Prior to the Reformation, this would not have been surprising. After all, the average churchgoer did not and could not sing. Singing was reserved for the clergy who understood (or at least could recite) the latin that the words were sung in. To the layperson – it need simply be understood that music was reverent and for God.
After the Reformation, congregational singing spread like wildfire. A new era of learning about God through hymns came about and spread even further with the creation of the printing press. With the ability to hold a hymnal in hand – most churches had an arsenal of around 300 songs that could be sung.
So what went wrong?
The truth of the matter is…we assumed that “Seekers” and even “regular attenders” need things watered down when we realized that we don’t talk with language like “bring forth the royal diadem” and “dumbed down” our worship songs with the invention of the projector. Along the way we created songs that were overly repetitious instead of intentionally glorifying of God. We somehow missed the point that we were worshipping God with our songs and, instead, thought that we were in need of songs that everyone could understand. As a result, the 300 songs that everyone knew for centuries turned into new songs each month.
Don’t get me wrong – new songs were refreshing – and brought along some great works. There was an art, at first, to how we introduced these songs to our churches…how we taught theses songs to our churches. We slowed down and took the time to intentionally teach the words…how the melody sounded…where the song came from. That was how a sung was taught.
Now, we rarely sing a hymn and have learned to neglect to teach a song and expect a congregation to keep up with us. We bring in new songs each week and simply expect that our congregations will either like them or not. We never give them a second week to try them out. By the second time we bring the song back a month later we become frustrated that no one is singing it and become convinced that there is something wrong with the hearts of our congregants.
…and then we sing a hymn…
…and suddenly men and women…young and old…are singing.
Why? It is familiar. It is substance. It is worship.
May I make a couple of suggestions for your worship prep next week? Try to add at least one hymn to your set. Yes – dress it up as you see fit but leave the integrity of the song intact. You can hear how we (New Hope Worship) reworked and rewrote the hymn “Nothing But The Blood” here. (Chord chart included)
Second, if you are introducing new songs to your congregations, take a look at some tips on how to do so without becoming a stress to your congregation in our article “Why No One Is Singing That Cool New Song“