Who is the congregation singing to? Who is it singing for? Who is the audience of congregational singing?
Is it the pastor? The praise team? The congregation?
My contention is that the audience of the singing congregation is God himself. Singing is an act of worship (we will discuss worship at a later time). God is being worshiped by the things we are singing to him or about him.
The primary focus of the congregation is not on itself, nor on others who are present. It is not about how we come across to others, or whether others like our singing. The audience that needs to matter most to us is the one we are singing to and about, God.
This is easier said than done. Many things can stand in the way of this important focus. Praise singing can become routine. We sing because this is what we always do during this time in the service. We stand up during the singing because we always stand up during the singing. The songs are familiar. We have sung them many times. We know what they say. We sing mindlessly – our lips are moving, but perhaps our thoughts are on our surroundings more than they are on God. We are thinking about the way the Praise Team members look, how they are dressed. We may have arrived at the church distracted. Or we are distracted by thoughts about the past week or the coming week. And so on.
Of course on a more serious note, there could be patterns of sin in our lives, or confusion about who God is and doubts about whether we matter to him. Our faith may be a mere formality. We may have a reputation of being believers, but in our heart God matters very little if at all. To sing with enthusiasm about something we do not believe in is difficult at best. At worst it is a form of hypocrisy.
All of these things can stand in the way of a focus on the audience that really matters during congregational singing – God himself.
These realities are important for the Praise Team to consider. The Praise Team must share the conviction that the audience of the singing congregation needs to be God.
God is also the primary audience of the singing and the playing of the Praise Team. It would be easy to think that the congregation is the primary audience of the singing and the playing of the Praise Team. This is not so. It would be so if the Praise Team were performing. But this is not their task. They are not performers but leaders. And one of their tasks of leadership is to help the congregation, the people of God, to direct their focus to the one and only audience that really matters, the living God himself.
There are different ways in which this can be done. God willing we will look at those at another time.