And the answer is...
Of the 25 most performed songs from CCLI’s 300,000-song catalog licensed by 160,000 North American churches in the past 6 months:
- The average song was less than 8 years old!
- One song was less than 3 years old!
- None were written before 2000!
The implications are astounding:
- ACCESSIBILITY/DISPOSABILITY: Churches are adopting—and discarding—new worship music more quickly than ever.
- INFINITE OPTIONS: With an astounding number of new songs being introduced weekly, the available selection of worship songs is increasing at a seemingly exponential rate.
- SOCIAL MOMENTUM: Major publishing platforms, YouTube, social media and radio are converging to drive the upward momentum of new worship songs.
- NEW & HOT is displacing “tried and true.”
I don’t want to sound negative or reactionary. I love new worship music—our company publishes new music all the time. I’m just concerned that worship leaders are embracing this flood of new material at the expense of recent and classic worship resources that are still very relevant to broad sections of the church.
Is that such a bad thing? Shouldn’t we let the market decide what’s popular?
Maybe. Or maybe our response will change the new "new."
If you’ve read my previous blogs, you’ll know that I’m a big proponent of a “both/and” orientation toward worship. God IS doing a new thing; but he also continues to do that timeless, changeless thing he does so well.
In light of the above trends, here are some suggestions I submit for your consideration:
- BE PICKIER: Less is more. By being very intentional and strategic when adding new worship songs, you’ll guard what your congregational already cherishes while introducing new songs that will be meaningful for years to come.
- FIND FILTERS FOR NEW MATERIAL: Because it’s impossible to listen to all the new worship music coming out, consider finding a handful of trusted sources that review and curate music for you. Consider adopting a review process for new material that includes your pastoral staff and key lay leaders.
- AVOID BAND-WAGONING: Resist choosing songs based primarily on what other churches are doing. Every congregation is different. Pay attention to who your folks are and craft a worship program that ministers to your unique situation.
- TRUST TRIED & TRUE: There’s a good reason some songs pass the test of time: they’re great. When you use a familiar song, those who know it are blessed by its memory and those who aren’t acquainted with it will recognize its power.
Discover Worship is a relatively small voice in the big world of worship music, but I hope the suggestions we’re making are scriptural and practical ways to help your worship program honor God and serve your congregants.
Consider sharing this post with your colleagues along with some comments of your own. What trends are you seeing and how are you responding?
--For more helpful articles about blended worship services and the issue of musical style, check out www.discoverworship.com and these articles:
- Arguing the Merits of a Blended Worship Service
- How Can We Add Musical Diversity to our Services?
- The Non-Issue of Style: It's Just Worth It
- Can Too Much New Get Old?
- Variety for Variety's Sake?
- 5 Compelling Reasons to Do More A Cappella Singing
- Worship on the Radio
- Expanding Our Worship Playlist
- The Age of the Top 25 CCLI Worship Songs
- The Both/And of Worship