I think too many worship leaders and worshippers in general associate worship with singing, and I'm not talking about people who don't get the fact that worship is more than music. There are some (who know that worship is more than music) that still equate times of corporate worship with singing.
As a worship leader it doesn't bother me if people do not sing. My goal isn't to get people to sing, it’s to encourage people to worship. Now, I realize that many use singing to respond to God, and that is completely fine, but if worship is simply singing than I feel we've missed something. I feel we’ve missed EVERYTHING! Let's break it down. What is singing? Singing happens when someone opens their mouth, exhales, and moves air particles at a certain speed. The speed at which these air particles move is called frequency or pitch. Now, why am I bringing this up? Because if our goal as worship leaders is to get people to sing songs then we’re often left with a room full of hot air, but if our goal is to lead people to worship then something more significant has to happen! If singing is how we are going to respond to God in worship, then what moves that air can’t be the collective efforts of lungs, stomach, throat, and tongue, it has to be the collective efforts of heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30).
Here’s what can also happen if singing is our goal: very powerful, inspirational, potentially life changing moments become replaced with empty cliches’ read from a screen. How many times have you gone through a day singing a song you didn't even like because you heard it on the radio? How many times have you heard someone say or said yourself, “Man, I can't get this song out of my head!” Somehow we have the ability to go into auto-pilot mode when it comes to songs. I don’t want that to be the case when I worship. I don’t want that to be the case when I lead worship. I want to have, and I want those I lead to have, a genuine connection with God. See, music by itself is powerful, BUT music that helps us connect to an all-powerful God can be life changing!
There has to be something more to our worship than singing. Ideally, we launch the passion of our hearts, the focus of our minds, the longing of our souls, and the function of our bodies on a crash course with our heavenly Father! Our complete attention, our deepest affection is aimed directly toward Him! This can happen without singing. I’ll often stare and intentionally read the words on the screen, or close my eyes, shut my mouth, and listen to what is being sung. By doing this, I’ve found that even the most common, oldest of songs are filled with refreshing, relevant truth. In these moments I find myself thinking, viewing, thanking, and worshipping God with a renewed passion. I'll then sometimes begin to pray, express gratitude, stand silently in awe, or sing in agreement.
This weekend when you find yourself on stage, or in the congregation, push past the singing. Allow the music and the songs to lead you face to face with the truth and the reality of God!