Without knowing a bit more about your situation, it will be a little bit difficult to offer tips and advice that will help.
Here are some generalities. It is generally harder to find competant, and better than competant musicians in smaller congregations. This is because the pool of available musicians is much smaller.
If you have a team of competant musicians in place, then you need to answer some questions.
Do you produce a Traditional , Contemporary, or Blended service?
Does the service you produce fit the demographic of your church?
Do you have unresolved equipment issues?
I sent you a friend request. I'd really like to help you get to the bottom of your dilemna.
In such a situation, I'll look into two areas: the worship leader and the worship musicians.
1) Worship Leader - did the worship leader clearly lead? Or just do a 'lead worshiper' kinda of thing and expect the worship to just magically happen? How about the song selection? Were the songs too unfamiliar? Did they flow somewhat? Or not at all?
Are you saying that the congregation didn't join in the singing or they didn't worship. From the outside, all we can see is if they join in singing or not. People can be singing and not worshipping. People can be not singing and still worshipping. So it's hard to give suggestions without being there. One thing I would ask is - does the congregation know what worship is? I don't mean just singing the lastest contemporary songs for half an hour or more. Has there been teaching on this from the pulpit? Is the worship team supporting the pastor(s) in providing an example of worship as well as leading? There may be some misunderstandings within the congregation. There may be incorrect expectations within the leadership. There could be a myriad of things but one thing is for sure - communication is necessary, in both directions ie congregation <-> leadership. Maybe a congregation meeting/forum to discuss the issue would be an idea.
Hey Tim, I don't think there is one key, but I think a keychain with a few different things on it will definitely help. The guys have already mentioned some of them. Now, I know nothing about you or your church, so don't take anything here as personal. They are general statements that you may find useful or you may not. Take what works and dump the rest!
First, don't fall into the trap of using only your eyes to gauge worship. God sees the heart, and we worship leaders need to begin to recognize heart responses and not just body responses. Some people will raise hands, close their eyes, sway or dance...and some never will. What I look for when I look out into the congregation is a sense that they are with me, that God is doing something inside. Harder to see, I know, but the outward stuff can be misleading at times.
I also make a point of spending time with the people before and after a service in the foyer, to hear any responses they may offer (note I said "they may offer", not the ones I drag out of them by asking "so, how was worship today?"). If the worship moved them, they will say so. Listen to everything and analyze it - both positive and negative. You can learn much there.
So...what if nobody is saying anything? Here's a couple of thoughts.
Are you doing your job well? I'm assuming you're the worship leader, so if you are, then are you producing a well-rehearsed set, using adequate musicians, and choosing songs that the demographic which makes up your congregation can relate to?
Are the sound and projection (video) elements working well with as few glitches as possible? Is your volume level too high (annoying people) or too low (subduing people - nobody likes to sing louder than the band). Main point here: remove all barriers to free worship.
Do you yourself project a worshipful attitude? If you're not into it, neither will the congregation. Are you performing instead of leading worship? If it's perceived as performance only, the people will stand and listen (or just sit).
Do you talk too much between songs, or does your music set flow well from one to another without tedious breaks while you preach a mini-sermon. I find this is the biggest hinderance to worship; song leaders who think they are the teaching pastor.
Finally (for now!!), do you know your congregation? Are you aware of what issues they're dealing with as they arrive each week, and does your heart ache for them? As a result, do you choose music that will help heal and bring hope? Or is it just the Top Ten list that came off CCLI? My classic rule is this: If you want to touch the heart, you have to speak from the heart. Or sing...or do drama...or whatever. It's the heart where things really happen.
Hope something from this will help. God's blessing on you and your ministry!
It's all borrowed! The thing about understanding where your congregation is at came out of hearing Gordon McDonald speaking on this at a worship conference last year. I think it's from his book, "Who Stole My Church?" It certainly gave me pause to think about what I do on a Sunday morning.
Were you at the NWLC? I was there! And I clearly remember him speaking....he really made an impression on me, in particular about not forgetting the older members of our congregations (in a nutshell). It really gave me pause also..... I was trying to be cutting edge all the time, but I started going back and doing a few hymns and older songs that really touch the mid to older generation. I have found a great response in people by taking into account ALL age groups, not just the young, and find that all age groups have responded to a "mix" of old and new songs quite well.
That's exactly what I've been finding since then, Val. McDonald's talk really woke me up to the fact that I have to consciously be aware of the people coming through the doors every Sunday. I'm glad I was there to hear him. Too bad we didn't meet then...wasn't that a great BBQ on the last night!
That was a great barbeque....right in the middle of a torrential downpour....that was the remants of that hurricane that hit South Padre Island(exactly where I had been the year before! Crazy!) The food was really yummy.....especially the spicy baked beans......only in Texas!
Hey - just another idea came to mind as I read Ricks great insight into leading worship. Again this is brought up as a possibility, not accusing anything, but how much prayer is there when the worship set is prepared, practiced as well as before the service? If God isn't working thru you then you might need to consider that aspect as well.