Dogs Dig Holes

Crema and Milo, my two street mutts, are lovely creatures.

Except when they dig holes. Their habit makes me consider astroturfing the yard. I’m not even kidding.

The big problem is that the solution starts with walking them daily. Unfortunately, I haven’t walked them for months, so there are about a dozen holes in our small yard to prove it.

The solution isn’t an overnight solution. But I’m convinced that if I’d walk these “saguates” (sah -GWA-teh) (that’s your Spanish lesson for today) regularly, the digging would go way down.

At least that’s what my wife tells me every time I get huffy at their habit.

Many of our struggles as worship leaders are just like that. The solution isn’t an “oh, just do this, and by Sunday, it’ll be fixed.” No, it’s more like “change your way of life to include this healthy habit, and in six months, you’ll start seeing some fruit.”

“What are some ways I can engage the congregation and get them to participate in worship?” a worship leader I’m coaching asked me.

It could’ve been any worship leader.

So I broke my answer down into two sections.

I can engage the congregation by:

  • Being prepared
  • Being likable
  • Being relatable
  • Being grounded
  • Being alive spiritually


I can help them participate in worship by:

  • Choosing songs they know and like
  • Playing music that’s easy to sing to
  • Requiring something of them
  • Inviting them to participate
  • Carrying an anointing by being a worshiper off-stage


Rather than describing what these mean, I’m inviting you to have a conversation with someone about this. It could be your team at a rehearsal, with your staff, with your pastor, with the group of worship leaders you meet with, or simply with your spouse.

Ask questions like this:

  1. What do you think I can be doing to be more prepared?
  2. On a scale of 1-10, how likable does the congregation perceive me, and what could I do to bump that number to 11?
  3. How are we managing the tension between being “just like everyone else” and “deeply-connected-to-God-weird-like-John-the-Baptist?”
  4. What can we be doing as a team to be more grounded people?
  5. What could we change in our weekly rhythms to become more given to the LORD as individuals and teams?
  6. If our congregation would get to sing more songs they know and love, which songs would we remove or do more often?
  7. Do you think it’s finally time to start playing with a click?
  8. How much of our service is “done for them” rather than “done with them?”
  9. How can we arrange and mix our music so that the congregation’s voice is more prominent?
  10. What can we be doing to make our welcome/opening more compelling?
  11. What can we start doing to ensure that people’s presence in a worship service makes a difference, that they can’t just walk in and out unnoticed?
  12. Do I seem like a spirit-and-truth God-worshiper to you? Does our team? How could I/we grow in that?


To more fully engage our congregations and create a more participatory environment, we’ll need to make some changes to our habits. Maybe even strap on our tennies and take a walk.

-Dave