this is not my blog, i have copied it from  Sharing it here cos i believe it is relevant to us who are very much involved in worship.

Why men have stopped singing in church !!

It happened again yesterday. I attended one of those hip, contemporary churches — and almost no one sang. Worshippers stood obediently as the band rocked out, the smoke machine belched and lights flashed. Lyrics were projected on the screen, but almost no one sang them. A few women were trying, but I saw only one male (other than the worship leader) making the attempt.

“Have Christians Stopped Singing?” I did some research, and learned that congregational singing has ebbed and flowed over the centuries. It reached a high tide when I was a young man – but that tide may be going out again. And that could be bad news for men.

First, a very quick history of congregational singing.

Before the Reformation, laypersons were not allowed to sing in church. Sacred music was performed by professionals (priests and cantors), played on complex instruments (pipe organs), and sung in an obscure language (Latin).

Reformers gave worship back to the people, in the form of congregational singing. They composed simple tunes with lyrics that people could easily memorize. Some of the tunes came out of local taverns.

A technological advance – the printing press – led to an explosion of congregational singing. The first hymnal was printed in 1532, and soon a few dozen hymns became standards across Christendom. Hymnals slowly grew over the next four centuries. By the mid 20th century every Protestant church had a hymnal of about 1000 songs, 250 of which were regularly sung. In the church of my youth, everyone picked up a hymnal and sang every verse of every song.

About a decade ago, a new technological advance – the computer controlled projection screen – entered America’s sanctuaries. Suddenly churches could project song lyrics for all to see. Hymnals became obsolete. No longer were Christians limited to 1,000 songs handed down by our elders.

At first, churches simply projected the songs everyone knew – hymns and a few simple praise songs that had come out of the Jesus Movement. People sang robustly.

But that began to change about three years ago. Worship leaders brought in new songs each week. They drew from the radio, the Internet, and Worship conferences. Some began composing their own songs, performing them during worship, and selling them on CD after church.

Years ago, worship leaders used to prepare their flocks when introducing a new song. “We’re going to do a new song for you now. We’ll go through it twice, and then we invite you to join in.”

That kind of coaching is rare today. Songs get switched out so frequently today that it’s impossible to learn them. People can’t sing songs they’ve never heard. And with no musical notes to follow, how is a person supposed to pick up the tune?

And so the church has returned to the 14th century. Worshippers stand mute as professional-caliber musicians play complex instruments, and sing in an obscure language. Martin Luther is turning over in his grave.

What does this mean for men? On the positive side, men no longer feel pressure to sing in church. Men who are poor readers or poor singers no longer have to fumble through hymnals, sing archaic lyrics or read a musical staff.

But the negatives are huge. Men are doers, and singing was one of the things we used to do together in church. It was a chance to participate. Now, with congregational singing going away, and communion no longer a weekly ordinance, there’s only one avenue left for men to participate in the service – the offering. Is this really the message we want to send to men? Sit there, be quiet, and enjoy the show. And don’t forget to give us money.

There’s nothing wrong with professionalism and quality in church music.The problem isn’t the rock band, or the lights, or the smoke machine. The key here is familiarity. When that super-hip band performed a hymn, the crowd responded. People sang. Even the men.

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And I bet they even let the women sit with the men now too!


1) Men haven't been brought up singing.  They don't think they can, or don't enjoy it.

2) Songs are too high

3) Too much "show" leads to observing, not participating.

4) Men are afraid to show emotion

5) Men don't identify with the worship leader.  No relationship or just too different from "manly men."

I think a lot of the songs today are too feminine in nature. By that I mean the key of the song as well as the "airyness" of the song. They just don't appeal to men. Also, a lot of the songs out today are not congregational friendly. They are not in a timing sig that is easy to sing, etc. We are very careful to not play a song just because it is popular. It has to fit our congregation and we change the key to a congregation friendly key. There a re songs I really don't like playing but our congregation loves the song. There are songs I really like playing and our congregation doesn't get into the song. Its a balancing act for sure....

you are spot on Dane ....  it is a balancing act, and it becomes all the more easier when we think who we are serving and fit them in the center of the process.

Often, men just simply aren't used to it. I've seen many a man who doesn't sing at first get into to it during a men's weekend. By the end of Tres Dias, Walk to Emmaus, Promise keepers and my own seminar, I usually hear much more from the men by the end than at the beginning (especially the first two as they are three full days). I've also seen many a man who is a nominal christian  get on fire for the Lord and really start singing with all their heart.

This is an awesome discussion!

I lead a small congregation and can say from first-hand experience that "familiarity" really is a big key (no pun intended). The second biggest key is a singable "KEY".

Paul Baloche does an excellent job in describing how he puts together a set list and both "familiarity" and "key choice" are BIG. He introduces new songs gradually (not weekly), and he has successfully led his congregation of "very old" and "very young" singing out together (both hymns and contemporary).

I have applied his suggestions and seen much better results than my meager attemps. I have also had co-worship leaders over the past few years (one girl who led once a month...then another guy and gal who led about 1/2 time for about 6 months). The congregational response (in the form of "singing" and/or complaints) centered around the familiarity of the songs and the high keys.

Also, I have the blessing of a wonderful wife who is NOT musical at all. But we have something in common...we LOVE to worship the Lord! So I am able to bounce my set list off of her all the time and she is a great barometer for whether the overall set list is "too unfamiliar".

The thing we need to remember as worship leaders and musicians is that we are more likely going to get tired/bored with a particular song LONG before the congregation will...because we play/practice the songs more often, we listen to music more often than most, and we "think" about music more than most. We are not ministering to "musicians" for the most part...I'm guessing that a high percentage of each congregation is not on the worship team or even a "musical" person. We need to remember that we are serving THEM by leading.

As a point...a short poll of our worship team showed that 100% of them were sick and tired of playing "Blessed be Your name" (Matt Redman)....the same poll of the congregation (remember my small congregation) showed that 95% of them love to sing that song on Sundays. So what's a worship leader to do?....suck it up and do what God has called you to do--SERVE.

Another thing you can do to "familiar" songs is to change the arrangement, change the musical layers, change the beat, modulate during the song, sing it soft, then loud, sing it acapella, then just with drums, etc, etc. There are many ways to keep a familiar song "fresh" (this wasn't my idea...another idea stolen from Paul Baloche).

Thanks for listening!

Thanks Brian ....

Do we sing along at rock concerts?...usually folk are to enamoured with the lights, smoke, etc in the big venues.

I don't have an issue with it, just we have become so entertainment oriented, and lazy IMHO.

I'm late to reply. :) Agree with Dane - some songs are too feminine. My husband comes to church after the singing is done. My dad used to go, but doesn't at all anymore. Look at choir and band in high school -- a guy is more likely to sign up for band - and indeed, jazz bands are mainly guys - than he is for choir. With an instrument in his hands, he can be musical while maintaining a little personal distance (emotional privacy). So why did guys used to sing? I think because we had hymns and 4-part harmony, and they sang the manly bass and tenor parts. Plus, they went because it was the socially acceptable thing to do. My dad even said that to me as a reason why he used to go, but no more. It was cultural, not spiritual. That said, our church used to be mostly women. Our male attendance has increased, though! Why? Not because of the music - we're still praise band pentecostal. But the men are attending Bible study, chopping wood, digging up septic systems, remodeling the kitchen, BBQing meat for dinners -- they are DOING, and they're doing things together, and enjoying the company. So them singing or not is a secondary issue, in my opinion.

The most man-intensive church I went to had:

A men's Bible study where the leader asked thought-provoking questions instead of floating platitudes.

A sort of "open staff meeting" at Starbuck's every week.

Some key people that were great at getting men aware of projects to help people (put roofs on, etc.)

A fair representation of guy-friendly songs and a worship team that sang parts from their instruments (I sang bass).

Corporate prayer, person-to-person.  It was hard for a guy to be a wallflower or be ignored by his fellow men.

...and you have one of the best "handles" in this group, Flute Punch!


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