Gospel Centered Worship

Let me begin by saying that I love introducing new worship songs. In the last ten years or so there has been a resurgence of theologically rich songs written for the Church. I still get overly excited when I find a new song written that speaks about God in a fresh and powerful way.

That being said, we live in a unique time in church history when it comes to song selection. Gone are the days when churches sang out of hymnals with three or four hundred songs in them (which in all honesty, is still an awful lot of songs to pull from).

We now live in a world where CCLI Songselect gives us over a hundred thousand songs to choose from and where hundreds of songs are released each year on new worship albums. The pressure, either spoken or unspoken, to keep up with everything can be overwhelming.

This age we live in is both a blessing and a curse. Personally, I am thankful as to live in such an abundant time as this, but I believe we must pastorally steward the resources God has given to us. With that in mind, here are three reasons why our churches would be better served by introducing fewer songs this year.

1. It Will Help Our Congregations Sing Stronger

Repetition leads to familiarity, familiarity leads to confidence, and confidence leads to strong congregational singing.

We shouldn’t be surprised if our congregations are not singing well if we are continually submitting them to a barrage of new songs. Our people literally can’t keep up with all of the new content.

By introducing fewer songs, we give our congregations the opportunity to build familiarity and confidence in singing the songs in our churches’ songbook.

2. We Will Be More Strategic With The Songs We Do Introduce

Limiting the amount of new songs helps us think more strategically and pastorally about which songs we will introduce. When there are fewer songs on the table, we start to ask questions like:

  • What are our reasons for introducing new songs?
  • Are we introducing songs because we like how they sound or because they have something that our congregation needs to say to God or about God?
  • What types of songs would strengthen our songbook and fill in areas that are weak?

Questions like these will lead to higher quality song selections, which will ultimately better serve our congregations.  

3. We Will Build Our Congregation’s Trust

There is an unseen relationship of trust that exists between our congregations and us as worship leaders. This trust can take a long time to build, but can be lost very quickly if we are reckless in introducing too many new songs. Most average churchgoers are not musicians and are not immersed in church music like we are. They don’t have the same capacity to learn songs as quickly.

If we outpace our congregations with new songs, we will gradually lose them to passivity and spectatorship. But, if we carefully and thoughtfully introduce fewer new songs over a longer period, then we will build their trust and win them to active participation in singing.

Closing Thoughts

While it is tempting to try and keep up with the overwhelming amount of new songs available to us today, we will actually serve our congregations better if we purposefully limit ourselves to fewer but more intentional new songs. In one of my next posts I’ll show some practical examples of how we go about introducing new songs at Grace Bible Church.

by Calvin Hemphill

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