You're leading worship on Sunday morning and you're trying to tell if your congregation is engaged - as you're singing and playing. And for you and in your context, you probably have an idea of what "engaged" means. And if you feel that your congregation isn't engaged, do you do something to try to pull them in?
- What does "engaged" look like for your congregation? What is the expectation in your context? Hands lifted? Eyes closed? Clapping? Swaying? Eyes open?
- What do you do to try to "open them up"? (If anything.)
I always enjoy seeing different "styles" for worship. I was at Tony Evans' church back in 1987 when he was meeting in a high school gymn. The worship was very spirited and rich with people swaying and clapping, but it wasn't out of control. But I've been in churches where the worship leader closes his eyes and everything is very meditative and contemplative. I spent some time in an Anglican church and it was somewhat "unspirited", the hymns being more or less "theological poetry" set to music - plenty to think about. It seems that there is an informal definition and expectation of how worship ought to look in a given congregation.
I'm not sure the style matters, I'm just curious how you see it and what you do to encourage participation.
There are thousands of churches without good musicians -- some with no musicians at all (I've known a flute player who could barely play, but she was willing, there was no pianist, so she was it. One of my pastor friends, when the pianist was on vacation, they did a capella.
Sometimes these situations arise (likely more often than not) because the people can't visualize anything but the grim semi-music they present to the Lord, and thus are scared out of their wits if a good musician actually does show up (that was the case in the first church I mentioned).
Many churches are rich in musicians; but the "guy with two coats, give to the one with none" principle is easier to say than do.
The I-Ching of organs is the "tracker" pipe organ, the original concept - keys are connected to pipes with little metal rods. To play full organ (several rows of pipes), then, you have to really come down on the keys. You can just barely touch a key and get delightful half-touch effects you can't with electric action (on-off only). There has been a major revival in building these "retro" instruments, whose heyday was the 1700's and earlier, and is perfect for "counterpoint" - detailed weaving of melodic lines. The entire instrument is one connected thing.
In the 1800's, the French began to build gigantic hydraulic-action organs for their cathedrals, with banks of related stops, like sections of an orchestra. Big, fat sound, lush, gorgeous. On the French organ, Bach sounds ponderous and its essence is lost in the confusion of sounds in the vaults of the cathedral. But music of the mid-1800's is glorious, perfectly voiced by the French organist (or I should say, the man employed to work the stops, who does not allow the organist to make his own decisions about the tonality, but makes the many registration changes possible). Can you imagine how bad a French organ symphony would sound on a squeaky little tracker? My organ teacher tried it and immediately pronounced a $300,000 organ a "boxful of whistles."
Around 1972 I used to go to the Organ Stop, a new Phoenix pizza place, with a colossal Wurlitzer which essentially wrapped around the place, with lots of windows to see the pipes and always a fabulous organist. It only had 15 ranks at the time, with lots of supercoupling, but has grown, and is now in Mesa, Arizona, at a larger venue to hold its 6000 pipes (at 61 pipes/rank, that's 100 ranks, the equivalent of a large cathedral organ, at a restaurant!). Since pipes are real, and discrete entities, that's 6000-speaker stereo.