I’ll admit it – I made the term up. Song Velocity? What in the world is that? Well, since I made it up, I get to define it.
Song Velocity – the number of new songs a worship leader introduces to the congregation over the course of the year.
Think of it as the speedometer of congregational singing. If you introduce multiple new songs each week, then you are taking the curves really fast and might throw some folks out of the car. If you never introduce a new song, you might be sitting in park. Everyone is comfortable but you may not be moving.
Some will ask, “What about what the Bible says about singing new songs?” It’s a fair question that I have pondered for years. I’ve come to the place of believing the admonition to “sing a new song,” has more to do with the newness of heart than the date on the copyright. That said, I applaud ministries that are always looking and creating new songs to sing for the church.
- Musician – Know Thy Church
Every church is different and the worship leader should know the pulse more than anyone. The SV will differ from ministry to ministry and can change over the years. Ask yourself – “Does the rate at which we introduce new songs frustrate our people?” If it does, change it.
- Build in Success to Every Service
Every time you plan a service, identify that moment when you know for sure the congregation will win. It might be because it is a familiar favorite that they sing with passion every time. It might be a new song that is so easy to learn and so inspirational that they will enthusiastically engage. Either way, make sure every time the church gathers, the church engages.
If you never defer to them, they will likely never engage with you.
- Create and Curate
As a worship planner, you are the one who maintains the Song Velocity. Your foot is on the gas pedal. Create a system that enables you to be aware of the new, but helps you curate the old.
If you lead a ministry that is creating songs, you will need a way to objectively evaluate how and when they are used in worship. If you find yourself thinking more like a publisher than a ministry leader, you’ll need accountability in your life to keep that in check.
Yes, create. But, also curate to find the very best resources to engage your people in worship.
So, what’s your SV? One per week? Per month? Every other month?
Whatever it is, develop a sense of how your use of new songs affects your church. Get plenty of feedback from people you trust on this question – some that are inside your ministry, some that are not and especially from your Pastor and other leaders.
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.