NEWER is BETTER + POPULAR is GOOD
That is what our consumer culture tells us.
As those entrusted with choosing songs for our church, we must look beyond the YouTube hymnal and social virality of a song. We must be able to see and hear beyond the slick productions.
A nutritionist for a pro football team does not feed the same meal to a kicker and a linebacker. What’s good for a 10K church in the burbs might not make sense for a recovery group in the city. Are there songs better made for your small church that a large church would never consider?
Some new, famous worship songs should be avoided in your context. Some should be sung immediately. Some should wait a bit. Some will be sung forever in your church. Many will be quickly forgotten.
Here are considerations for selecting NEW SONGS for your local church:
1️⃣ Choose songs that could live in your active setlist for 3, 5, 10 years, or more.
The increasingly short shelf life of trendy worship songs really concerns me. I love that there are some songs in our repertoire that have been with us for decades and continue to feed us. We keep them from being worn out by using different arrangements and allowing them to rest for seasons. For instance, the song “Jesus Messiah” is no longer marketable, but for our church the lyrics do incredible work.
2️⃣Avoid becoming a radio DJ that capitulates to every song request (yes, including your pastor).
Over time, if you are doing your job well, people will learn to trust to eat what is in front of them vs. constantly asking for chicken fingers and cake. If you are constantly trying to please people by entertaining requests, it will never end. When people (my pastor) ask for a song I always ask them “what about the song speaks to you?”, “What in this song, gives voice to what our church needs to say to God?” Often times it’s a deeply felt, short-lived emotion that is completely personal and not corporate.
3️⃣ Dive deeper to find songs that fit your context.
There are hundreds and thousands of beautiful songs and hymns that are not in the top CCLI 1000. This might include your original songs. I recently found a song by Daniel Bashta “Praise the Lord” which has absolutely blessed our gatherings. Listen to more indie worship artists and hunt for songs that will feed your church. Don’t just wait for the big churches to feed you your next moment.
Helping your worship leaders and teams tell the story of God in worship. My name is Mike O’Brien and I am passionate about teaching and mentoring worship leaders and teams. My calling is to use my experience as a producer, worship leader, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist to come alongside musicians, helping them more fully worship God with their instrument and lives. Find out more about how I can help your worship leaders and teams HERE.
Many churches have a serious problem attracting and keeping volunteer musicians. Let’s face it, getting a team of musicians to show up to church and play music at 8AM on a Sunday can be a challenge. Usually there is sub-par monitoring, messy stages and lots of mind numbing songs to boot. Sometimes there are a series of unclear religious rules for stage and life we have to follow. Musicians can be under challenged or over challenged. We just can’t seem to convince people it’s worth it! For years I struggled as a worship leader making it happen every week. About 10 years ago we made some significant changes in our worship culture. Now, in our church (125-175 attendance) we have 4 bands, 4 sound techs, 6 main stage worship leaders, and waiting lists for all positions. It’s a wonderful blessing! Here are 5 quick hacks for attracting (and keeping) quality volunteer musicians at your church:
Last Monday I sent out a text to my worship team. It read as follows: “Hello Worship Team 3. This might excite some of you and bum some of you out, but I sense I am supposed to lead with one guitar and one vocal this Sunday. No band. We will resume the following week. Please come early and sing with vigor as I lead!” One by one, I heard back from my team with texts: “I’m in!”, “Sweet!” “Word” and “Praying for you”.
Our church has loads of musicians and it’s wonderful. We have an overflowing waiting list for every spot on our team! For a sanctuary that holds about 150, we have an amazing sound set up with vintage Rogers drums, Hammond Organ and top of line guitar amps. We pretend we are a much larger church when it comes to a quality live band experience. Most of our worship ministry’s 25+ musicians only play 2 out of 8 weeks. That being said, we often times intentionally dial down the production. Why?
After 18 years of leading worship for the same church (14 of those in the same building), I’ve had the privilege of over time adding some helpful tools to our setup that serve the congregation and band in simple ways. Check out these 5 simple Worship Ministry HACKS that you can do now to help your team and church engage with the Living God.