Maybe it’s just a nuance. But the thought crossed my mind that the selection process may be more important than the songs we sing. If the selection process is together, the songs will take care of themselves. The same could be said about many factors in worship. The worshipping heart is more important than the songs themselves. An alive congregation is more important the style of the song, and so on. But this post, I want to focus on the selection.
Of course, there are prefaces: 1) Songs don’t make worship, worship happens as people give thanks to God. 2) Some songs seem to be, for a season, anointed with purpose, giving the body of Christ an opportunity to sing the words that were already in their hearts. 3) This is just to get our wheels spinning about how we pick songs.
Some components to the process of selecting songs:
Personal worship – Much of the song choice comes from the leaders times of worship, listening to music and experiencing it being led in other places. Have you carved out time for that kind of worship?
Prayer – Be sure to pray for the songs that need to be sung. Pray for your team, for the songs that would fit well. Pray for the congregation and for their response. Pray for growth and depth in worship.
Preparation – Preparation with a focus on the theme, the scripture, the day or the liturgical season.
Inspiration from the worship band and other participants in leadership – There may be someone in your group who suggests a song that comes from their times of worship and study.
Connecting to the style of the congregation – All ministry needs to be focused on where people are and where we are leading them. Worship ministry is no different. Know your congregation. Know their style. Know their desires as far as worship and music go. Then, seek to connect with the purpose of connecting to God.
What are the needs of the day and hour – We trust that God will give us the right song for the right time. One example of this might be when there is a loss felt throughout the whole church or community – what are the needs for this particular day in worship?
Songs are tools to help people worship. Use songs as tools to help people 1) celebrate, 2) tell the story of God, 3) reflect on the story of God and 4) respond to the story. Create a natural flow to worship in general.
Here are some results of not selecting songs carefully: 1) A person picks based on what’s popular, 2) A person picks based on what the band likes or doesn’t like, 3) A leader doesn’t do a song because the band thinks it’s overused (don’t forget, a worship team hears a song 7-9 times for every 1 time for the congregation), 4) Singing a song in the original key even though it may be too high for your congregation 5) Or singing several songs that people don’t know well, causing the worship to be less participatory.
Songs are important, but they aren’t the main thing. I was at huge church the recently where one of the worship songs was Trading My Sorrows. I’ve been in small churches recently where the worship songs included 10,000 Reasons and a couple other relatively new songs. Both of the congregations worshipped and the spirit was evident.
Be praying for your selection of songs and the song selection will be right on.