Sing and make music to the Lord: Why does it matter?

A study on the musical practice of congregational singing within the Yorkshire North and East Methodist District.


Following an Undergraduate Masters which looked at the role of hymnody within the 21st Century Methodist Church, our District Administrator, Naomi Prince, is continuing her studies by looking at the relationship between congregational singing and evangelism. 

In 2020, the Methodist Conference voted on the ‘God for All’ strategy, which is a 5 year strategy about evangelism within the Methodist Church. Although aspects of this strategy look at how the church can reach to those who are not already churched, but what about those already in the church. How do we empower those in the church to be evangelistic?

The starting base for this research is a section of the God for All strategy titled  ‘Making Beautiful Worship: Beautiful Worship within the Gathered Community of Faith’. It talks about worship needing to ‘connect people to God and transform them for mission within the world’ and ‘inspire [them] through worship to serve God in daily life’ so therefore one of the questions that I am asking is: How does congregational singing fit into all of this? 

To try and figure this out – 47 churches within the District (1/4 of our churches) are being invited to take part in a study. The study has two parts. 

  1. A Questionnaire for the Minister, Steward or Local Lay Pastor to fill in about the church. 
    • This bit of the questionnaires ask questions about the context of the area you serve, your membership number, and the regular music that happens at the church. 
  2. A Questionnaire for the congregation
    • The congregation will then be invited to fill out a questionnaire which will focus on how they experience the music and whether it helps them to connect to God, transform them for mission and serve God throughout the week. 

Both of these questionnaires will be online surveys, however paper copies will be available for those who want to participate but can’t manage an online survey. 

What is the timeline?

Which churches are taking part?

Check out the lists below to see if your church has been selected to participate!

Beverley Mission AreaWalkington
Bridlington Mission AreaFlamborough
Wolds Edge Mission AreaHolme-on-S-M
 St John
Patley Bridge Mission AreaDarley
Boston Spa
Harrogate Road
All Hallowgate
Park Grove
Queen Street
Kingston Wesley
Haxby and Wiggington
Sheriff Hutton
Acaster Malbis
Hutton Cranswick
North Duffield
Thorpe Willoughby
Porthulme Road
Anlaby Park

Got some questions? Check below!

Firstly, thank you for agreeing to participate, and I hope you find it an exciting opportunity!

If you have been chosen to participate, it means that on the 16th of October, your minister will receive a pack of information which will include something for a newsletter, a video to be shared at the start of worship, posters, social media posts and most importantly, the links to the questionnaire. 

These should hopefully be circulated in these last 2 weeks of October, for the Study to start on the 1st of November. 

During the month of November, the congregation should be encouraged to participate.

After the 30th of |November – your job is done – I then have the fun job of analysing data!

To help the validity of the study, churches were randomly picked using a random number generator. I do not know the context of most of these churches, and are anticipating that some churches will not participate. 

If your church doesn’t want to participate because if doesn’t think it can helpfully contribute I would encourage them to still take part. This study will only works if there are a mix of contexts participating – so if you have 10 members and only use Singing the Faith midi files – your involvement is still very much important. 

However, if this just feels like something that is just too big of an ask, you are under no obligation to participate. 

This study will only work if there are a mix of contexts participating – so if you have 10 members and only use Singing the Faith midi files – your involvement is still very much important. So please still take part! 

Yes! Your church/circuit should have access to some paper copies of the questionnaire which can be filled in and then posted to the District Office at 28 The Green, Acomb, YO26 5LR. 

Be aware though, that there are 2 different parts to the questionnaire: the not so fun but vital ethics section, and the study. Please fill both out!

Unfortunately, participating churches were selected by using a random number generator and for the validity of the study, these churches can’t be changed. 

Thank you for you excitement and engagement though.