Whenever I’m sent out on a grocery store run, the last instruction inevitably will be, “Check the expiration date.” Whether it’s milk, eggs, or lunch meat, there will be a “sell before” date and if you are lucky enough to find it and the sticker wasn’t placed over it, you can get an idea of how fresh it might be.
I wish we had one for songs.
It seems these days we are running through new songs faster than water through a net. Just when we get used to a new song, we move on to something newer. I can’t remember the last worship service I was a guest in when there wasn’t at least one song I didn’t know.
What if songs had an expiration date on them? Right next to the CCLI number there would be a date when this song would not matter anymore. Of course, I’m not being serious, but is there a point here?
Well, I don’t have a way to put dates on songs, but here are some attributes of songs that, if present, suggest they will have a short shelf life:
They say exactly what many other songs we sing are already saying.
They sound like many other songs we already know.
They focus more on how I feel than who He is.
They depend on a great performance to be interesting.
They are so simple, they don’t require any thoughtful participation.
I’m sure there are more and if you can add to this, please comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
So, the next time you are planning worship, check the expiration date on the songs. If all you are singing are songs that won’t be remembered, it may be time to re-think the plan. After all, what we sing is an integral part of the discipleship process of the people we lead.
It would be a shame if they get to the end of their lives and they can’t remember a single song they used to sing in church because the expiration date had already passed.
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.