QUESTION: How Often Should We Introduce New Congregational Worship Songs?
REGI: In all honesty, this really depends on your congregation. As a musical guest, I’ve shared a new worship song in churches where it seemed everyone jumped in after the first time through. Other congregations just stared at me. Rather than a “one size fits all” response, here are some specific suggestions for worship service planning that will help you successfully introduce new songs:
- Limiting brand new songs to one or two a month so that they can be properly introduced and learned by your congregation.
- Playing recordings of new songs you plan to teach the congregation while people are entering and leaving the sanctuary.
- Including a YouTube link of upcoming songs in your church’s weekly newsletter so that folks can get acquainted with them.
- Having someone sing a new song prior to or after the message and then using it in worship the next week.
- Singing the song several weeks in a row because it may take time for it to become “second nature” to your worshipers.
Conversely, there are some things that probably won’t help:
- Singing every hot new song that comes out so that your church stays (supposedly) on the “cutting edge.”
- Including too many songs in a single service by the same writer.
- Worrying more about what your peers think of your set list than how honest and accessible your worship is. Twitter hash tags like #worshipsetlist tempt us to be more interested in getting “likes” than being effective.
- Expressing frustration with your worship team or congregation for not “getting” unfamiliar music as quickly as you’d like.
- Rejecting “older” songs (not written in the last 10 years) or hymns because they’re not as popular.
So, how many new songs should we teach the congregation? As many as they can comfortably learn and still enter into fervent worship. I’d say one a month or two at most is probably about right but your church may have more or less capacity.
I’d love to hear how often you’re teaching a new song of worship.
For more than 15 years, Regi Stone has served as Discover Worship's creative heart. With more than 230 published songs and a dozen CD's to his credit, he has performed in hundreds of churches and led worship thousands of times. His Worship Weekend events equip and inspire local worship teams around the country. For more about Regi's music and ministry, go to registone.com.
--For more helpful articles about church music and worship service planning, check out www.discoverworship.com and these articles:
- The Critical Importance of Church Choirs
- 3 Steps Every Choir Director Should Take Now
- Improving Your Choir by Building the Blend
- 5 Things to Remember for Your Choir Rehearsal
- What's Better: Traditional Church Choir or Worship Team?
- 3 Ways to Cultivate Spirit-Led Worship
- Is There One Best Way to Format a Worship Set?
- Leading Worship Through Song List Curation
- 5 Tips to Grow Your Church Choir
- The Wrong Key (and How to Find the Right One!)
- Is It Too Loud? (Accompaniment vs. Worship Emersion Culture)
- 8 Simple Hacks to Prevent Last Minute Choir Music Panic