Everyone who’s choosing songs for a worship service is confronted with some of the same questions… do I pick things that everyone knows? Do I sing an “oldie but a goodie?” What if there’s a song that I know will speak to my congregation, but no one knows it yet? What are the emails going to be like this week?
Even if you’re afraid something will break if you try it, here are three simple things that might help bring new songs into your church’s worship experience:
Sing new “old” songs
When you introduce a new song to your congregation, the reaction could be all over the map: everything from “I just didn’t have any idea how to sing the song” to “how dare you change our music!” My minister of music likes to refer to the “song of the congregation.” What is it that is the “heart song” of your church right now?
If there are hymns or worship songs that your congregation loves and adores, why not try new arrangements of them in worship. We try to cover some of that at LifeWayWorship.com with our Contemporary Hymn arrangements: songs that you already know the melody and words to, but with new instrumentation.
By using words and melody that are part of your church’s “heart song,” chances are, you’ll be able to expand the stylistic part of that song.
It’s okay to be “special”
Many moons ago, in most evangelical churches, you could be almost guaranteed that someone each week would be listed as “Special Music.” It usually was a solo or some kind of vocal group. Many churches have gotten away from that as a boilerplate item in their bulletin, but it has its place, especially when introducing new music.
Even if you have concerns about a “featured soloist” spot in your service, there are lots of opportunities to introduce new music to your congregation without having them sing it first:
- Use the song as an offertory
- Use the lyric of the song as a sermon illustration
- If it’s a scripture song, make that scripture your emphasis for a series
- Print part of the lyric in your bulletin, and use it as part of a devotional time
- Have the choir or praise team sing the song
- Post a link an official video of the song on your church’s Facebook page
- If the song was recommended by someone in your congregation, have them share about what the song means to them in a testimony time
Put the focus where it should be
If you’re introducing a new song, it shouldn’t be for the sake of the song, it should be to help people see who God is. If you’re introducing something because you’re tired of the old stuff, because “it’s what the young people want to sing” or because the church down the street did, then you’re not planning worship, you’re planning songs.
When you do choose a song to add, make the choice to make it part of your personal worship to God first. Sing it in your quiet time (even if you choose to sing it silently!) Look at the scripture that is related to the song, and make it part of your devotion. We list associated scriptures for every song on our site in the “i” screen – the little blue button that comes up under search listings. Ask God, “what would you have us do with this song, this Sunday?” Ask God, “what are you planning to do with this song, this Sunday?” And most of all, trust Him to work through it, and don’t lean on your own understanding.
Pastor’s Worship Questions is a series of blog posts designed to help the small church pastor, non-musician or anyone else who’s been asked to lead worship in their congregation. If you’ve got a question for us, post it in the comments, and we’ll answer it in an upcoming blog post!