I watch this every week – sometimes every day. I’m always curious to see what churches using LifewayWorship.com for their congregational worship are singing every week.
Here’s what it says to me:
We love to sing about the name of Jesus.
It’s a blessing to see how many songs are about the name of Jesus. The Apostle Paul wrote one of those himself in Philippians 2. The Church still sings the name of the One we love and worship.
We love songs that are moderate to slow in tempo.
It is interesting to see how many of the most popular songs fall into this category. Maybe it’s because they are more sing-able or appeal to a wider range of people, but the power worship songs are rarely fast tempos. Some might say these are written in more of a classic “hymn” style. Whatever the reason, we are singing more songs like this.
We tend to sing songs that have simple melodies.
The melodic architecture of the modern song is getting simpler as time goes by. Writers are looking for melodic shapes that invite participation by singers of varying abilities. One of the most popular songs in recent memory only has five different pitches in it. Our songs are getting simpler.
Not all the songs we sing are new.
Throughout the list, we see hymn arrangements and songs that weren’t written in the last few years. I’ve said for years leaders move on from songs much faster than the typical church member. The best-seller list may be saying that more leaders are learning the power of the familiar – I really hope that is the case!
That is precisely why we have multiple versions of songs and hymns on the site – so you can do a fresh version of the familiar and keep your congregation engaged in worship even as you try new things.
Leaders: you should do your own inventory of what you are singing. How many new songs? How many familiar? How many new arrangements? And while you’re at it, evaluate the content of your singing.
Consider this question – if the people of your church only had the content of the theology you sing together, what would they know about God?
As a worship planner, you curate the singing of your congregation. It’s a responsibility not to be taken lightly.
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.