Fumble with his sermon notes? Maybe.
Sit at the front and look around as the congregation sings? Perhaps.
Sing with abandon? Possibly.
Just what is the pastor supposed to do during the congregational singing? Does it even matter?
It’s a question I’ve been asked several times recently and one I saw modeled beautifully in a LifeWay Chapel service. How should a preacher engage when the congregation is at worship?
There is no one answer to that question. The last thing I would want to ask a Pastor to do is to not be themselves in worship, nor would I want to put some artificial request for participation on the person about to preach God’s Word.
Maybe these three thoughts can help –
- Be engaged.
This will look differently for each person. Some Pastors love to sing and can’t wait to put their voice in the voice of the congregation. Others are horrified at their own singing and hope against hope no one will ever catch them trying to sing.
A Pastor can be engaged in more ways than singing. He can be prayerful, reflective, and completely engaged without singing much. And, this is noticeable too. If he is genuinely engaged, it is obvious to his church. His responses can be visible (standing, clapping, lifted hand, facial expression) without being audible.
- Teach the congregation.
The Pastor can help a great deal by teaching about corporate worship. Some pastors avoid the subject if they are not singers themselves. Each pastor needs to understand the role of leading worship falls squarely on his shoulders. How he describes worship and teaches about it is culture shaping for the worship of a church.
- Interact with the worship.
Imagine it – the choir and congregation have just sung “What a Beautiful Name” and the response of worship fills the room with the praises of God’s people to the name of Jesus.
The pastor gets up and says, “Man, can you believe how awesome that game was yesterday?” And, just like that, all the air is sucked out of the room.
All pastors should develop sensitivity to what is happening in the flow of a worship service. If a pastor can get one thing right when it comes to leading worship, it should be this one – get in the flow of what is happening and steward the moments of worship carefully and intentionally.
Every Pastor has an important role in leading worship and goes a long way shaping the culture of worship in the church by being engaged, teaching, and shepherding the moments as God’s people worship Jesus.
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.