Mondays with Mike — Lessons from Moving Day!

This week, our family moved out of the house we have lived in for the last nine years. The short version of why is because we are about to be empty nesters and just could not justify staying in this big ‘ole house that is perfect for a family with three kids but way too big for just the two of us.

We’ve moved into an apartment while building a much smaller house that will be big enough for our kids (and hopefully one day grandkids) to come for a visit, but far too small for any of them to be tempted to move back in with us. We call it – the perfect size.

As we worked through our stuff, we realized we were much closer to an episode of “Hoarders” than we ever imagined. We found cancelled checks dating back to the early 80s. Oh my.

But, the whole week has been an amazing spiritual experience for me, personally. The overwhelming emotion as I walked through the house for the last time was gratitude – a deep realization of the ways God has blessed us in the years we lived in that house. And just before I closed the door for the last time, my son and I prayer-walked the empty rooms asking God to bless the family buying the house in the ways He blessed us.

One of the blessings in the last few days was learning the buyers’ oldest girl, now 10 years old, had started piano lessons, but did not have an instrument to practice on – only a small keyboard. It just so happened we had a small piano stored in the basement that we could leave in the house so she would have a piano to practice on. Music will fill these rooms after we are gone!

So, what are the lessons learned from Moving Day?

  1. We kept way too much stuff through the years. I would estimate that 90% of the stuff we said we should store turned out to be stuff that we gave away or threw away as we were downsizing. Why in the world did we keep it all?
  2. It is liberating to purge and reduce your possessions. I can’t tell you how freeing it feels to not have so much “stuff” to think about. We particularly enjoyed giving away a whole floor of furniture to a local ministry and a new missions house.
  3. The moving process is a great time to share the love of Christ with people. I was amazed how many opportunities we had to share a few simple words of witness with realtors, junk movers, neighbors, and more. We left a letter for the buyers that described Christ’s presence in this house and in our lives and how we prayed they would know His presence in this place, too. We’d never done that before, but it felt so right to do that for them.
  4. Marriage is one of the greatest blessings from God. Going through something like listing and selling your house, finding a new place to live, and moving just demonstrates how awesome it is to have a partner in life. Teresa was nothing less that amazing through this whole process. This helped me realize again just how great a blessing she is to our family (and me!) and makes me want to love her even better.

Later this year, our house will be ready, and we’ll move again. Between now and then, we’re going to try to get rid of even more stuff and continue pondering the lessons learned on moving day.

Mike Harland,

Director, LifeWay Worship


Mondays with Mike – Samson’s Haircut Taught Us 4 Invaluable Lessons

Samson got a haircut. And the power he knew, and had taken for granted, was gone. Of course, the issue was a heart issue. The haircut was just symbolic of an inward rebellion against the vow he had taken years before. And in a weak moment of temptation, he cashed in all of his power for a few moments of indulgence. What man in his right mind would ever do something like that?

A man just like me.

We all know what it’s like to fall short. We’ve done so many times. But this was more than that. This was Peyton Manning fumbling at the goal line when no one hit him; Michael Jordan missing a layup and blowing the championship game; Superman putting the kryptonite in his own pocket.

This was God’s man – chosen and anointed – choosing to forfeit the very power that enabled him to defeat the enemies of God. When we read Judges 16 we want to scream at the page, “Don’t do it Samson! Don’t throw it all away for this!” But we can’t. And he does. And the rest, they say, is history.

Sure, in the end, God’s man wins one final victory for the people of God. But think about all the years and victories forfeited. We’re grateful for the outcome, but we can’t help but feel as though the great power of Samson was somehow wasted.

There has to be a few lessons for the rest of us. Here’s a few to consider:

  1. If we aren’t careful, we will take God’s power on our ministries for granted.
  2. In a weak moment, we can choose to forfeit His hand on our lives for a fleeting indulgence.
  3. God can redeem our worst mistakes and even use us again, but we cannot regain what is lost.
  4. We are just as vulnerable to “hair appointments” in our lives as Samson was.

As my friend Scott White, of FBC Woodstock, often says, “We’ve got to stay ‘close and clean’ if we are to know God’s hand on our work.”

In other words, we’ve got to stay away from scissors.


Mondays with Mike – Relationship Economics 101: 3 Suggestions to Building Relationship Equity

Serving a church as a staff member is an in-depth study in relationships. In any size church, leaders will encounter many different kinds of people…and when you factor in each one of those people’s individual stories and life experiences, the variables of how you relate to them all are infinite.

My brother-in-law used to say, “The ministry would be great if it weren’t for people.” He was kidding – I think.

In worship leadership, there can be even more challenges because with every one of those unique personalities comes a unique preference of music style. It seems many leaders of a dynamic music ministry will have to face every kind challenge – from multiple personalities – and that’s just with the deacon chairman.

Here are three suggestions to help you build relationship equity with the people you lead – these are the kind of suggestions I wish I had understood about twenty-five years ago.

  1. Realize that people are not your problem – they are your prize. Some musicians can fall into the trap of thinking a well executed music service is the ultimate goal of your work. Such a mindset can posture you to see the people that are not serving your vision to be obstacles. But it just isn’t true. You are not there to present music. You are there to develop disciples. And every person in your church falls into the group of people you are called to serve.
  2. Run toward the sceptics. Human nature would be to resist people that seem to be against you. You duck into the Sunday School room when you see them coming and avoid eye contact and interaction of any kind – even with their family members. But the opposite is actually better. Pursue the ones that seem distant. Take them to lunch and listen to their story. Express the heart behind what you are doing. Listen to their advice and even learn from their perspective. They will quickly become friends and allies if you only take the time and energy to know them and allow them to know you.
  3. Resist the write-off. More than a few times over the years, I have heard a worship leader (when discussing his critics) say something like, “Those people don’t get what we’re doing anyway. I’m not going to waste my energy trying to win them over. I’m shaking the dust off my sandals.” If this is something you have said before, go back and read #1 again. True, you won’t be able to win everyone over that isn’t following your leadership. And caring about serving them can, and will, cause you pain as you try to build trust. But people are the point. And energy spent trying to encourage and serve is energy well spent. If you get in the habit of “writing-off” the problem sheep of the flock, pretty soon, you won’t have much of a flock left.


If you will spend spiritual energy and focus investing in relationships with the people you serve, and serve with, you will find your relational account balances growing to the point that small withdrawals (mistakes) won’t bankrupt them. You will have the trust of the people you lead. And when you have that, you can pursue, together, the vision God has for your church without the distractions of mistrust.

And you’ll get an A+ in Relationship Economics 101.


Mondays with Mike – Ambidextrous Worship Leaders…Are You One?

I recently read an article from Harvard Business Review that highlighted an attribute of highly effective companies called, “The Ambidextrous Organization.” Simply put, it is the ability of a company to organize itself to be able to approach their customers with multiple solutions at once – even if some of those solutions seem opposite of one another. In today’s highly specialized consumer mentality, companies that do this thrive. Those that cannot do this tend to struggle in the long term.

It seems to me that strong churches approach ministry this way. While never compromising the message, they find multiple ways to engage the people of their communities and sometimes those ways seem opposite of one another. And when you think about the music and worship of a church, this is especially true.

When I say ambidextrous worship, I’m talking about a lot more than blended worship. Blended worship is the idea of doing a little bit of everything – the traditional, the contemporary, the ancient modern, and the sacred – into a “casserole,” if you will, of worship. My fear is that, often, churches that try to do a little of all of it aren’t very good at any of it. And what you wind up with is a pretty average soup of mediocrity.

The ambidextrous worship ministry doesn’t try to blend the different styles. They do multiple styles well – and there’s a big difference in the two approaches. This takes great leadership and a very intentional pastoral focus to pull off well. But when it happens, it is truly wonderful. In these churches, the generations worship together and respect each other. They celebrate their different preferences in music style and even appreciate the greatness of all of it. The focus can be on worshipping Jesus instead of counting how many hymns versus choruses were in that day’s worship.

The problem today, though, is that it is increasingly difficult to find ambidextrous worship leaders. The ones that can nail the last batch of Passion songs might be scared to death to stand in front of a choir – and vice versa.

So, if there is value in leading an ambidextrous worship ministry, and I believe there is, what do we do?

It’s time for church musicians to care about sharing the Gospel with all generations – enough to develop their skills to be able to be ambidextrous in their approach. Many leaders don’t do a particular style – not because they don’t see the value in it – but because they don’t have the skill to lead it. It’s one thing to choose no choir because you don’t believe it works in your setting – it’s quite another to not do choir because the leader doesn’t know how.

Our churches could use some ambidextrous worship leaders. Are you one?


Mondays with Mike – NEWS FLASH! An Open Letter to Sports Parents That Are Christians

NEWS FLASH! Your son is not going to play Major League baseball. And, your daughter is not going to be on the Olympic team in volleyball or soccer either.

So, why in the world, and for what possible eternal reason are you sacrificing a vital aspect of their spiritual development in the formative years of their lives in the hopes they will become a sports superstar? What is the best result that can come from that choice? And what is the worst?

Now, come back from the ledge and let’s talk about this.

If you know me, you know I played a lot of ball in my day and went to college on a baseball scholarship. I have coached baseball for many years since my playing days, and love the positives that playing a sport can bring to a young person. But this thing has taken on a whole new form that I believe is harmful to many of our kids. I’ve seen it over and over in the places I’ve served.

Our churches are full of people like you or someone you know, who have children that are playing sports year round. And in the off season of their local league sports, they play on travel teams – some around the country – to play their sports. Many of these are families of faith, like yours, who are making this decision in full conviction that the passing on of their spiritual legacy is not affected at all by this choice. After all, you read the Bible and pray together in the hotels – sometimes you even go to a chapel service at the tournament location or a local church, if the tournament bracket schedule allows. Sure, your kids never do the church camps or go on a student ministry mission trip, and they miss most Sundays during the travel season, but isn’t there more to Christianity than that?

And, you argue, some sons and daughters do play pro sports and find Olympic glory. Why couldn’t it be yours?

My fear for you is this – your kids will gain far less from this experience than you could have ever imagined, and it will cost them far more in their spiritual and personal development than you could have ever feared. Many aspects of Christian maturity are only learned in community with other believers. They are not going to get everything from you – they have to have other people speaking into their spiritual development. And there are no “do-overs” in parenting. You get one shot.

The truth is, if they are gifted and passionate about spending their energy to develop a skill in a sport, they will do that with or without a total focus on it when they are 13 years old. And if they don’t give their lives over to being great in one sport, they might find other interests they can develop as well…that can be part of their lives long after their athletic careers are over.

In sports it’s called “cross-training.” It’s when an athlete trains by doing activities outside of the particular sport they compete in. And I believe that as young people develop, they need “life training” – lots of varied experiences and interests that help them explore where their passions are and how they might spend their lives as adults.

But all too often, parents choose a sport for their child when they 8 or 9 years old and seemingly sacrifice everything else for that child to succeed in that sport. What happens when it’s over?

When my daughter was in high school, we traveled a little ways down this road. Her volleyball coach in high school gave special attention to the girls that played travel ball in the off-season. So, like many families, we made the choice after her sophomore year to join a travel league in the off-season in hopes it would bolster her high school career.

It’s a crazy life these travel ball families live. The low point for me was when she was playing in a tournament in Atlanta – all of our family was there – and we were watching game after game – on Easter Sunday – I knew that day we had fallen victim to the religion of travel ball.

I have a high school friend who is a sad case study in this subject. He was a wonderful athlete in high school and even competed on the college level. But being great at his sport was all his life was about. Now in his early 50s, he sits and reminisces about his athletic accomplishments of long ago. His life has been marked by a failed marriage and a strained relationship with his kids. But he has never found real purpose beyond his college playing days. So sad, indeed.

Here’s another news flash – if your son or daughter has unique athletic gifts and are passionate about playing a sport, they will become great at it without travel ball. And perhaps, being involved in the student activities of church or in some family mission journey could help them become passionate about something that will matter beyond their 18th birthday.

So, how about this – what if – instead of spending the energies of your family to build a “super-kid” in some sport or skill, why not let them have a normal experience of playing different sports and spend those extra resources of money and time investing in their spiritual and personal development?  Why not pour your family effort into service and missions at your church and beyond?

It’s time for parents that are serious about discipling their kids to stand up to the travel coaches that dominate the growing up years of their children. It’s time to realize that kids don’t have to be great at something – all they have to do is be.

God has already made them great.

Mike Harland

Director, LifeWay Worship


Tuesday with Mike – 3 Observations About Words on the Walls

For me, it was sometime around 1998 that I began to use lyrics projected on a screen for worship. And back then, it only would happen at youth conferences or special occasions. The churches I served until then did not have the capability to project lyrics nor the desire to put – as one church member called it – words on the walls.

Now, churches of all kinds everywhere use projection as a worship tool. Almost everywhere I go, I see the use of visuals in worship. Lyric projection has been expanded to include video and elaborate backgrounds. Rightly used, these tools are wonderful ways to connect with the congregation.

But recently, I’ve done some thinking around the things we seem to have lost since “words on the walls” have become the typical way congregations sing. Here are three observations (in no particular order):

  1.  People don’t know songs from memoryThis is a personal testimony, for sure. When I know I will have a lyric monitor, I am increasingly dependent on the slides of lyric. I suspect I’m not the only one – the next time you have a mistake in the lyrics, you will know for sure just how dependent your whole church is on the right index finger of your lyric operator. We don’t remember the words anymore because we don’t have to do so. I wonder – when this generation is on their death-beds, will they have to ask for power point to be brought in so they can sing our songs of faith?
  2. Our people don’t know how to “follow music.” I learned how to follow music growing up in a singing church where everyone had a hymnal in hand. I had a long way to go learning music theory, but I learned the basics of how to follow music as I looked at notes in the hymnal and sang. That was true for many of our people. Our people never see the notes now.
  3. Part-singing is becoming a lost artIn many of our churches, our people no longer sing all four parts because they can’t see them and don’t know them. Now, for sure, many newer songs don’t lend themselves to 4-part singing. Most people don’t have the confidence to make up a harmony part when all they can see are the lyrics.  The other sad part of this is that many of our men won’t sing at all because there is no longer a meandering “bass note” where they can cut loose.

So, what should we do?

I’m not sure we should do anything. But, I am reminded of one service in particular that gave me some pause about how I led worship each week. One Sunday morning, about 5 minutes before the start of the service, a sweet lady drove her car through the intersection next to our church and right into the power pole. She was a little shaken up but fine. But, the electricity was out for our whole campus. Well, I quickly decided to walk out with my guitar and our piano player and do church. We picked up our hymnals and raised the roof. It was glorious.

I came away reminded that the most important element in congregational worship is the worshipper’s voice – and that we could live without anything else. I suppose our focus should be on engaging the worshipper – and maybe, just maybe – we should lose a little of our technology often enough to remind ourselves what that sounds like.

I’d like to know – what do you think we should do to recapture some of what we have lost?


Mondays with Mike — 5 Suggestions for Singing Old Hymns in Contemporary Worship

5 Suggestions for Pouring Old Wine in New Wineskins: Singing Old Hymns in Contemporary Worship

The scripture warns against pouring new wine from old wineskins, but what about pouring old wine from new ones? It seems more and more churches are finding rich value in singing traditional hymns with modern arrangements and instrumentation.  I love the quote from my good friend Randy Vader of PraiseGathering Music Group: “We don’t sing the old hymns because they are old; we sing them because they are great.” I could not agree more.

But as with most things, there is a right way and a wrong way to incorporate older hymns into current worship practices. It is more involved than just adding a rhythm section or changing a few chords or rhythms. It certainly is more involved than just writing a new refrain and tagging it on to the standard hymn.

There are many great reasons for bringing familiar hymns back into our worship. Deep and rich texts and time-tested melodies abound in the genre. They connect with multiple generations and engage a broader audience in worship. The hymns connect us with our heritage – important in any community of faith. They have a legacy aspect to them, much like the great stories of faith and testimonies of our past.

Here are few suggestions for anyone who wants to pour old wine out from a new wineskin:

1)   Avoid curveballs.

Significant changes to the melody or rhythm, unless you are doing an entirely different music setting to the text, will throw a congregation off every time. And once the congregation loses confidence in knowing how it is going to go, they will shut down and listen. The worst fear of the average congregant is that their limited ability will be exposed. If you mess too much with the familiar, it will actually shut them down.

2)   Plan “the win” for the congregation.

Whenever you plan a modern setting of a hymn for a congregation, put it in a widely accessible key and resist the temptation to over-accompany the hymn.  Let it be what it is for the congregation, even as you add contemporary elements to the arrangement. Vary the accompaniment stanza to stanza – even incorporating a cappella sections to allow the congregation to “find” their voice. Let the folks in the pew “win.”

3)   Make the changes consistent.

If you change a rhythm to fit a new accompaniment approach – a cool way to modernize a hymn – make sure the change is consistent throughout the hymn. Or, if there is a chord structure change, do it every time. The congregation will pick up on minor tweaks fairly quickly and sing with gusto if you are consistent.

4)   Let the choir lead.

Teach your choir the new version just as you would a featured anthem. When the time comes to sing it in the worship time, the choir can really help the congregation find their way by singing it with total confidence – something the congregation can rest in as they sing as well.

5)   Be smart about how often you introduce new things. 

This goes for all of the songs we sing in church, but too often, worship leaders consistently throw way too much new material at their congregation. About the time worship leaders get bored with a new setting of a hymn or even a new song, the congregation is finally getting familiar with it. Many worship planners put so much new material in front of the church, they never own any of it. And, if you are considering adding a new refrain or chorus to an old hymn, ask yourself, “Why?” There should be a very compelling reason to do so – and doing so just to change it up is not reason enough. The new section must be adding something to the hymn that is needful.

Part of the Hippocratic oath in the medical profession is “Do no harm.” That is, don’t allow the administration of the cure add to the illness. The same can be said of hymn singing. You can do far worse than just singing the hymn the way it has always been sung. But, if you want to bring an old hymn to the modern day with current approaches to music, do so deliberately and thoughtfully. The people you lead will be blessed if you do. 


Mondays with Mike – A Cruel Culture of Allowance and Execution

A Cruel Culture

Here in middle Tennessee, we have watched a sad and tragic story unfold in recent weeks. The top aide to one of our senators was caught distributing child pornography. The picture of the law enforcement officers hauling him off the porch of his home hit every paper and was sad indeed. Then just recently, the announcement of his apparent suicide gave us a bookend to the story and ended the public drama. Or did it?

There is something cruel about this culture we live in. Everything about our culture – from TV and award shows to sports magazines and the sidelines of football games where dancers dance – screams at our population that visual sexual gratification is acceptable and harmless. Free speech advocates and the courts of the land defend the rights of adult filmmakers and Internet businesses every day.

But, the research is clear. Pornography is progressive and affects the brain in the same ways exotic drugs do. That means, the swimsuit edition of a magazine or a lingerie fashion show on TV serves as “gateway drugs” to a tragic path of destruction. But the destruction doesn’t wait for the extreme cases of victims. No, it affects every relationship and every heart that wanders down the path even a short distance. It is happening all around us.

One of the saddest ministry moments of my life was the night a family blew up before my very eyes after the parents discovered some horrific behavior in one of their sons who had become infested with porn – at the age of 13.

The cruelty is that the same culture that allows this material to permeate our daily lives, also executes its victims, in the name of protecting our children. It would be the same thing for a parent to give their children ice cream and then punish them for eating it. It makes no sense.

How do those of us in ministry address this?

First, all of us should have programs on our personal computers that protect our families (and us!) from porn. Second, we should help the people we lead understand the threat. And it is a real threat to our families. And, perhaps closest to home, we should guard the eyes of our hearts at all cost. Don’t even consider exposing your mind to a movie or web site that could lead you down this path – no matter how great the reviews are!

And last, we should love those who are caught in this trap by confronting a culture that destroys the victims it creates and by loving those victims back to wholeness with the truth of God’s word.

The Bible tells us that our adversary has come to kill, steal, and destroy. We’ve got to get in this battle for the minds of our kids and the generations to come…before we lose them all!

Mike Harland

Director, LifeWay Worship


Mondays with Mike – Breaking Up Is Hard To Do…

It’s a fascinating analogy.

Eric Geiger, the Vice-President of the Church Resource Division of LifeWay, my friend, and boss, wrote a blog recently in which he quotes Brad Waggoner, Executive Vice-President of LifeWay, and also my friend, and Eric’s boss, saying…

… he noticed a major shift in church ministries when “senior pastors of churches broke up with their discipleship pastors/ministers of education and ran off with their worship pastor.” (Read: Breaking Up with the Groups/Discipleship Pastor)

It’s a thought provoking statement for sure and one that got me thinking. I would have to agree the modern day church has had a renewed interest in worship over the last few years and to the degree that any church has done so at the expense of developing disciples in their congregation, a dangerous shift has occurred. I totally get where Eric is coming from and don’t disagree.

But this raises an even bigger question for me that Eric addresses further into his blog. Why should we have to choose between the two? As I study the scriptures, it is obvious to me that the purpose of worship, in the heart of the believer, is discipleship. Even medical studies bear this out. Our brains are wired to recall the material that we sing at a much higher rate than what we memorize.

Paul certainly must have thought so since he gave us some of the most profound theological truths about Christ in hymn form (Philippians 2, Colossians 1, Romans 11). Moses, Isaiah, David, did as well. The Psalter is full of the great truths about the Gospel including creation, atonement, sanctification, and eternity. Some of our best understanding and language about the nature of God is found in the hymns of the Bible.

When the believer sings, the disciple is learning the language he will pray with and the words he will use to describe his relationship with Christ. Much of what he or she recalls of theology will be what he or she has sung.

Educators have known this for years. Our children learn melodies to remember the alphabet, the books of the Bible, and the fifty states. No wonder God gave us music. When combined with the written word of God, it becomes the most powerful discipleship tool we have.

So, here’s another question. Why aren’t worship leaders more intentional about disciple making? The way I see it, the choir should be the largest discipleship group in the church. I am called to develop mature disciples of Jesus through the teaching and application of God’s word – not to just sing three cool songs before the pastor preaches.

That’s why the quote above raises this discussion for me. I’m afraid it suggests that many pastors have settled for hired gun musicians and too often, church musicians are not intentional about making disciples. In those ministries, this analogy is right on target. There has been a shift.

If worship pastors had been equipping the saints for the work of the ministry, the last 20 years of worship emphasis would have given us a stronger community of disciples. But that doesn’t seem to be the case, does it?

I believe the senior pastor, the discipleship pastor, and the worship pastor are all called to do the same thing – make disciples. As Eric says, “A church exists to make disciples. Clearly this mission includes the worship gatherings, and definitely goes beyond them.” He further clarifies in the blog that he values the discipleship that can take place in our worship gatherings. His concern is not about worship at all – it rests on the affects of a church that neglects discipleship. I couldn’t agree more.

 “I’m calling on worship pastors to think outside the chord chart and be engaged in the process. Encourage and support the discipleship ministries of your church. Never allow the worship ministry to marginalize the discipleship strategy of your church. Make sure you are intentional in your work of growing the people you lead in their relationship with Christ.”

Think about the strength of a church where the pastor is preaching God’s word with clarity, the worship staff are filling the mouths of God’s people with the declaration of Christ and His word, and the discipleship team is systematically teaching the great doctrines of God’s word in a community that cares for it’s families in small groups. All of these leaders are shepherding people in the pursuit of knowing and serving Jesus through the various roles of their ministry.

We don’t have to break up. All we have to do is work at it together. It’s what we are called to do.

Mike Harland,

Director, LifeWay Worship










Mondays with Mike – A Lively Discussion on the “Question.”

A Lively Discussion on the “Question

I have really enjoyed the robust discussion generated by my blog last Monday – A Question for Pastors, Worship Leaders and Church Musicians. First of all, it did my heart good to know that my Mom was not the only person reading my blog. Many were appreciative of what I shared, while others took exception with parts of it. It was a great learning experience for me, and I was challenged by many of the comments.

I do want to follow up on one aspect of the responses – and that is what some felt like was my defense of the use of choirs in churches.

When I started out writing, I had no intention of making the blog about choirs at all. As a matter of fact, I really don’t feel like a defense of choirs is even needed by me or anyone else. Choirs were God’s idea – He told leaders in the Old Testament (I Chronicles 15 and Nehemiah) to have them, and Revelation tells us that we will all sing together someday. I’m pretty sure it won’t be a praise team of seven singing, “Worthy is the Lamb. So, whatever anyone has to say about choirs and all of us singing together will have to take second place to what God has already said about it.

And, how do you define what a “choir” is anyway? I Chronicles describes a group of 288 singers – that would be a mighty big praise team – but who can say the five folks that sing in church aren’t a choir? What is the legal minimum to qualify as a choir anyway?

What I am concerned about is “engagement.” I’m talking about congregations where the corporate worship responses have become mere sitting and staring. A great deal has been written about why people don’t sing as much as they used to – the types of songs, the keys, the types of aesthetics in the room. Shoot, I even wrote about it myself in an article titled, “They Are Not Singing Anymore a few years ago.

One contributing factor is that along the way we stopped teaching people how and why to sing in many of our children and student ministries. One thing you can say about choirs that would help the worship of the church is that in choir, more people are learning how to use their voice to worship God. That is a good thing.

And, when you have a choir, the congregation has more vocal sound to “hide” their voice in, which will help them participate more without feeling exposed. I could go on and on.

I recognize that each individual church has it’s own set of realities that they manage as they plan and lead worship. I respect that each leader deals with those realities the best way they can.

My admonition is just this – whatever you do, involve as many people in it as you can. I’m afraid passive worshipers tend to live as passive Christians – something we already have way too many of in our world.

Mike Harland

Director, LifeWay Worship