Sing Unto the Lord


How to stop men singing in church
February 7, 2008, 8:10 pm
Filed under: Doing music, Thinking Music

According to the National Church Life survey, 61% of all attenders of Australian churches are women. Thts great that so many women love church but we want to see more men in church taking the lead and being responsible for their families. One thing that I’m sure holds many men back from attending and enjoying church is singing. Singing in church is generally linked with wearing a skirt or arranging the flowers. I don’t want the music at our church to repel or even be bearable for men. I want them to love it and to sing loud and proud for their King.

There are some things we can do in arranging music in church that can either be beneficial or counter-productive in this aim. One major thing is what key you sing a song in. Girls and guys have different vocal ranges. That means that some songs if you play them the way ‘they are on the cd’, will exclude one group in your congregation. I often change songs to match both vocal ranges. If I can’t do it I either don’t sing the song (it’s more important that everyone in church can sing than for me to get the songs I like), or I get the men to sing the melody and the girls come up with another part. We have a few songs we sing at CCEC that have girl/guy parts.

Another factor is who you stick up the front. If all your music leaders are girls then why are all the backing singers girls? At nitechurch we have 3 guy band leaders and a couple of guy backing vocalists. I’m always trying to encourage our guys to take up the mic. It gives example to guys in the congregation.

What songs are you singing? Are you always singing about Jesus being beautiful or lovely or ‘darling’. These are fine to sing at times but what is your diet? So many christian songs are girly. Don’t buy into it wholesale. Sing about Christ’s victory, his strength, our mission, His leadership. Guys get that stuff. We get the other stuff too and I’m being stereotypical but I’m just saying be careful.

What instrument arrangements are you using? Is your music solid or pretty? To work it out… how big is your rhythm section compared to your melody and harmony sections? Did someone in your church ever say ‘oh well we have the drums… lets get some flute cranking?’. Instruments and how you use them are important. Pianos can be great but if you are always fiddling round, flourishing the song with little bits and pieces, it can be a bit chick. Why not build up your rhythm section? Play mid to bass and play with the kick drum and snare – not around them. Flutes and violins are optional extras, not core. Flutes and violins can kill church music if not done well. They both used to be masculine instruments. Fiddlers and flautists would march into battle playing fighting tunes. We have femininized these instruments. Fiddles and flutes should only EVER play harmony and only sparingly. Don’t let them play all the time, matching the vocal line. They will just sound like a high backing vocalist with no diction. They can do the frilly bits that your pianist has just been banned from doing. I wouldn’t have a flute or violin until I had at least drums, bass, keys and 1 guitar.

Talk to some of the guys in your church. Encourage them in their singing. Let them know you can see it from the front and you love it. Get them up the front and in the middle. Tell them to dress like men and soon, God willing, we will see the gender scales shift.

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8 Comments so far
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Great post!
As I was reading, I was thinking “Man, I gotta show this to Dan”

Except that you wrote it 😀 The theme is messing with my mind.

I love that out church has ‘blokes’ at it.

Comment by hayesy

I hate flutes. I’m a girl.

I hate trills and high pitched singing that I just can’t sing along with. I’m a girl.

I am wary of using the words ‘darling’ and ‘beautiful’ to describe the Lord Jesus, because they sound trite and are loaded with too much soppyness in our context. I’m a girl.

I want to sing to my King and Saviour, not ‘Jesus is my boyfiend’. I’m a girl.

I found you post a bit demeaning Dan. Chicks don’t necessarily want to sing soppy, trite, fluffy, theologically hollow songs either.

Comment by Michelle

I hear you Michelle. I didn’t mean to be demeaning to girls in any way. I don’t think that I was having a go at girls, rather highlighting stuff that would be helpful for guys. Plus… I like flutes when they are used properly, I like singing ‘darling’ and ‘beautiful’ because I think that it stirs something in me towards Christ’s salvation that is right and true. I don’t think the songs I’m talking about are soppy, trite, fluffy, or theologically hollow. Two of my favourite songs that we sing that run deep with truth both use those words to describe Christ. My point was rather that if we use those terms ALL the time it can be difficult for the guys to relate. Girls too it seems.

Comment by danielgodden

I think this stuff is really relevant Dan. I really enjoyed your arangements at nite church when i was around at sfest. It was amazing to see that the guys at nite church are so committed to music that on the nite i was there, there were only guys in the band. It is wonderful to see God raise up commited godly men, who love Jesus and love to sing to him and pray to him. Do you remember the first day of sfest and we had open prayer. As soon as i opened it up for anyone to pray somthing like 8 guys jumped in and prayed passionately, and after that i had to wait till at least one girl prayed. So great to see men lifting up their arms in prayer. Praise God.

Comment by Toby Neal

I’ve noticed that in open prayer too, Toby.
Not all girls are timid, mind you, but there does seem to be a general shyness. Could this be because the men are more forthcoming?

Dan or Toby, do you think it is possible for men to become too bold?

Comment by hayesy

nah Hayesy thats not my point at all. My fault i wasnt clear enough. Its the oppositie that i think. In my expereince it has generally been the girls who are more willing to pray than the guys. Hence my amazement at the open prayer time in which it was the guys who were taking the lead by getting on their knees in dependance on God to do somthing great at sfest. Unusual because us sinful guys often think we can achieve anything with a bit of hard work. It surprised me. I loved it. We need more men in our churches like this.

Comment by Toby Neal

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I think this is a helpful post, but I want to chime in with Michelle. I’ve always wanted to play electric guitar at church. At home with my older brother and sister I can. I can also play tackle football, and learn to program computers. At school I have to hide that I excel in math & computers. Why can’t I play guitar at my church? Why do I have to wear a dress? Why would God only give me helper “gifts”? So much about church is about gender stereotypes. God blessed me with a lot of gifts, including electric guitar, the tuba, football, math and computers. Praise God for making me a woman AND for his gifts.

Comment by Dana




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