Congregational Worship: Why We Don’t Participate

Someone asked the question “What are some of the reasons why the congregation does not engage or participate in corporate worship?” That prompted me to offer some suggestions as to why corporate worship is still either just a “song service” leading up to the main event – the sermon – or an afterthought – a means to an end. Here are my thoughts:

  1.  Worship by Example – When the leadership team on the platform (or wherever they are positioned) does not engage in worship that sets a bad example for the rest of the congregation. We’ve all seen the pastors remain seated during worship, looking over their notes (or iPad), generally not engaging in the journey. Bad example!
  2. Training & Instruction – Very few churches these days teach the Biblical basis for worship in a congregational setting. A new generation of young adults and children are entering the sanctuary/worship center not fully understanding why we worship the way we do. Leadership expects these new believers to simply follow by example or absorb by osmosis. But they still need to be taught the basics of why we raise our hands, kneel prostrate before the Lord, dance in His presence, revere the holiness of God, etc. In the 80’s and 90’s we couldn’t fill the requests for training and workshops local churches were asking for because so many asking for help!
  3. Leadership Training – Kind of ties into #2, but I’ve witnessed first-hand many church worship leaders leading worship who are clueless about their role and why they’re up there in the first place. They may have a musical gift, a great voice, etc. but no anointing on them to lead others into the presence of the King of kings. In fact, when was the last time you heard someone remark “the worship today was so anointed?” That concept is lost on many of today’s leaders.
  4. Casual Approach to the Holiness of God – When congregants arrive late, struggle down the aisle balancing their iPhone and the latte they just purchased at the church coffee shop, they interrupt the journey others are on into the presence of God through worship. We’ve lost an understanding of the holiness of God and turned the “song service” part of the worship experience into a spectator sport. See my article on this here.
  5. The Object of our Worship – Many, if not most, of today’s worship songs focus on “me, my and mine.” Instead of singing “You make me brave” we should be singing “I worship You, Almighty God.” I’m not saying we should not progress as a culture in our song-writing, but the “me-generation” of millennials are churning out songs that focus on themselves rather than the awesomeness of God.

So what do YOU think are some of the reasons today’s church attendees don’t participate in worship?

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