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The Worship Manual Episode 1: Congregational Engagement

In this episode, Brian and Brian talk about some practical things we as worship leaders can do to raise the level of congregational engagement in our worship services. Here are the topics covered in this episode:

  1. What is engagement, and how do we define it in the context of our church? (starts at 2:25 in the video)
  2. What are we trying to get people to engage with? (starts at 9:15)
  3. Engagement starts with me (and my team) (starts at 13:37)
  4. Assess the environment (starts at 17:55)
  5. Sing songs people know (starts at 21:22)
  6. Be authentic (starts at 23:27)
  7. Stage/environment: Lighting (starts at 27:05)
  8. Stage/environment: Music stands (starts at 29:15)

The Worship Manual is a series of videos where we have honest conversations about what makes for an engaging and effective worship environment. If there are any topics you’d like us to cover in future episodes, please leave a comment below or send us a message through the contact form.

64 Responses to The Worship Manual Episode 1: Congregational Engagement

  1. Mc Darrel Jul 27, 2015 at 1:59 pm #

    This is great Brian! I really like your WT site, it helps me to start leading worship. And this one is awesome, I actually want to share it to others.
    Concerning a topic for you to cover, I’m wondering about “interceding” while worshipping, and it’s kinda deep for me. I’m hoping to understand it through your next episodes. Thanks a lot!

  2. David Jul 29, 2015 at 5:48 pm #

    Good video guys, I agree concerning the music stands, I am not there yet but I have gotten to an iPad which is much smaller and I only look down 1-2 times per songs. I keep it there for emergencies only in case I have a brain fart. Another question might be would it be more or less distracting to take it away and occasionally mess up or have it in front of you and always get it right? However I found it highly ironic watching you guys talk on the topic while looking down at whatever notes you had 🙂

    • Michael D. Yaeger Jul 30, 2015 at 4:42 pm #


    • Brian Aug 24, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

      Thanks David! Ha – well it would have been hard to memorize all that content :). If I were in your shoes I’d lose the iPad stand during rehearsals until you feel confident enough to do it during a service.

  3. Michael D. Yaeger Jul 30, 2015 at 4:41 pm #

    Great info. Thanks!

  4. David Aug 6, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

    Great info guys, I appreciate you taking the time to put it together and share with us. I really get your point about ‘you already know the songs’. I realized recently that the chord sheets were a crutch when I transitioned back to Numeric chords (Nashville Number System). It had been years since I used numerals, but because I fluctuate keys often, I thought I would go back to using that. Once I started using music with numerals, I found that I wasn’t glued to the sheet music because I began to see the pattern of the music more clearly.
    I have been wanting to do away with music stands for a while and am working towards that transition. My plan was to use the Stage Display feature from Pro Presenter on the rear wall of the sanctuary. What are your thoughts and experience on using confidence monitors?

    • Brian Aug 24, 2015 at 4:00 pm #

      Thanks David! We use the stage display as a confidence monitor at all our campuses. I believe that too can be a crutch, but it’s nice to be able to see what the congregation is seeing, and to use it as a reminder if you forget a line or something.

  5. Dennis Aug 9, 2015 at 5:41 pm #

    I like your video, many things to consider for a congregation of 75+ people. We use Praise Worship twice a month in an attempt to promote a more intimate Worship experience. Generally it is one lady (early 50’s) and one of her children (High School or College age) who picks what she enjoys and, with very limited self taught guitar experience, plays. which brings me to the music stand scandal. At what point does a church like ours try to eliminate the use of music stands? This lady has tried to introduce other musicians into the mix, but time appears to be a factor for rehearsals.

    Thanks for the videos, have a lot of information in it to help smooth out the early bumps in this project.

    • Brian Aug 24, 2015 at 4:04 pm #

      Hi Dennis,

      I’ve led worship in churches of 75 or less for many years – I totally know what it’s like :). Are you the worship leader or in leadership at the church? If so, I’d recommend gathering everybody together who is interested in the worship/production teams at the church and mapping out a plan – talk about potential rehearsal times, songs lists, etc. Come up with a plan and stick with it. If time during the week is a factor for rehearsals, meet early on Sunday mornings and rehearse before the service. If you have a 9a service, meet at 6:30a or so, which would give you almost 2 hours to rehearse. I should also note that if 6:30a is too early for your potential volunteers, then they aren’t bought in/committed enough, but that’s a topic for another video 🙂

      • Russell Jan 5, 2017 at 10:29 am #

        We have 50 or less! We’re a small community but that doesn’t mean we’re not praying that our church attendance doesn’t improve. So, we want to begin to do those things that place us into ‘potential’ for greater things. On the other hand I’d like to point out that my ‘team’ consists of myself (vocal and acoustic guitar) and sometimes even a piano player (but most times not). Sometimes the pastor will ask a member of the congregation to consider singing a special tune (and sometimes they will respond; but most times not). So, realistically, the only times where rehearsal is even thought about is when there might be a special worship service (such as Easter or Christmas). Many folks, as long as we have been singing hymns all our lives, haven’t even yet mastered getting our noses out of the hymnal long enough to notice that there’s a church service happening! So, for the moment, I’m afraid we’re going to accept hymnals and sheet music and yes, even music stands. Interesting subject and wonderful dialog. It’s interesting to find out what the other side of town is doing!

        • Brian Jan 11, 2017 at 3:02 pm #

          Thanks Russell! I grew up going to a church that used a hymnal regularly. In fact, I used to have different songs’ page numbers memorized. I always tried to sing along to the notes on the staff for my vocal part (which back then was the bass). My voice has actually gained range over the years – probably due to just how much I sing. I sing a lot, ha.

  6. Ashley Mar 21, 2016 at 6:12 pm #


  7. Kevin May 16, 2016 at 11:35 pm #

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for all the great resources! I’m not a workshop leader but would love to help lead worship some day. I have learned your voicing for many chords as well as the traditional voicings. Here’s my question, if I’m playing with other musicians who are playing traditional voicings, can I still play your voicings since they are easier to play and transition from? I’ve wondered this but have not run into the situation yet. I’m still only playing for myself. Just trying to prepare for playing with others.

    Thanks for all you do!!


    Kevin T

    • Brian Jun 1, 2016 at 3:21 pm #

      Hey Kevin – yeah you can do that. You can also use a capo and play using chords from a different key (assuming your capo is in a position that makes all the guitars in the same key).

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