Where To Find New Music

Matt Brady shares a few places you can find new songs for your worship catalog:

Of the many tasks placed on the shoulders of a worship leader, one of the most exciting (and stressful!) tasks is finding new worship songs to introduce into the local church. We each have our favorite sources for finding new worship songs, but there may be other options out there that you have not considered.

The list below is in no particular order, and is certainly not exhaustive. These are some of the places that I have personally used, and a few that I am going to be using more in the future. I hope this list helps you find your church some favorite new worship songs!

I love that Matt includes hymnals on this list. Where do you go to find new music for your church? Read Matt’s list here.

When To Let It Die

If you know your congregation well and listen to the Spirit, you’ll pick the right songs most of the time. Most of the time. But every now and then, every worship leader tries a new song only to have it fail spectacularly.

Kade Young on knowing when to cut a song from the rotation:

I do my best to be led by the Holy Spirit when selecting songs for my congregation, but there have been many times that my personal preference has gotten in the way. I sincerely thought my song selection was spirit-led, but soon found out that it was just something I enjoyed listening to.

Maybe you have been there? You know, that time when you were so excited to introduce the new song to your congregation…and then it fell flat. They all just stared at you with a confused look.

He explains how long it takes, in general, to know if a song is going over well with your congregation. Check it out here.

Five Questions To Help Move Past The Worship Wars

I find it kind of amazing that churches are still arguing over what style of music to use, but there’s hope for peace. Scott Ball explains why authenticity may be a key to ending worship wars:

Some of you are reading this post and are laughing because you thought that the “worship wars” ended years ago.

Not true.

We now stand nearly two decades after the start of the worship wars, and many churches are still stuck on the issue. At The Malphurs Group, the topic of worship styles is still sensitive and relevant to many of our partner churches. Too many churches have split (and are still splitting) over the issue of what type of music to sing on a Sunday morning. And the churches that decided to be ‘blended’ have discovered that by choosing no firm direction, they haven’t made everyone happy–they’ve made everyone discontent.

But here’s the good news: the worship wars can end today.

Scott shares five questions that church leadership can use to help get past disagreements about worship styles. Read the whole thing here.

Keeping It Fresh

Chris Horton explains a few ways you can keep your church’s favorite worship songs from growing stale:

As worship leaders, we all have our “go to” songs that we use regularly in our services. These are the songs you probably use once every 4-6 weeks. These songs speak to the season our churches are walking through. These are the anthems where we always see hands raised and hear voices sing out the loudest.

So how do we keep them fresh? Now don’t get me wrong, the Holy Spirit is the one who does the work in the hearts of the people and He is the reason those songs speak so powerfully to our congregations. But as musicians, lets be honest… We can play/sing that song in our sleep, whatever those songs are for you!

Here’s 3 easy ways to keep familiar songs fresh for our teams, our congregations and us!

These aren’t terribly difficult things, like writing a whole new arrangement or changing it to a different genre. They’re just some small, simple things you can do to keep those “worship standards” fresh and new. Check it out here.

The Cool Factor

David Roark takes a look at how Hillsong has changed the landscape of worship music:

And to say that Hillsong has been successful would be an understatement. Commercially, Hillsong has released over 120 albums and sold more than 16 million records across the globe. Practically, the band has influenced the modern evangelical movement so much that it’s hard to find a local church—no matter the denomination—not singing and playing Hillsong music week in and week out. In fact, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, data in 2011 showed that a quarter of all contemporary worship songs in Australian churches were written by Hillsong, which even included a handful of Catholic congregations.

But it’s not just Hillsong’s music that has spread like a wildfire into the pews of congregations across the United States and beyond—it’s the entire ethos of the band that permeates church worship services each weekend.

David points out some of the positive (and potentially negative) effects of Hillsong’s “Cool Factor” on the church as a whole. Interesting read. Check it out here.

The Second Coming And The Songs Of The Church

A recent study of worship lyrics found something pretty interesting. Matthew Westerholm explains:

I recently compared two large selections of worship songs. The first was the most commonly sung congregational songs in the United States since the year 2000; the second was the most commonly published congregational songs from 1730–1850. Among many similarities, one difference was striking: Our churches no longer sing about Christ’s second coming as much as we used to.

Have we gotten too comfortable here? Have we simply forgotten Christ’s promise to return? What do you think? Why do our modern worship songs not mention the second coming very often?

Check out Matthew’s full post here.

Introducing New Songs To Your Congregation

Matt Brady describes a nightmare scenario for teaching the church a new song:

We were a little nervous, but it was more excitement than nerves. We dropped right into the song, plowing through the verse, chorus and so on. It felt really good to be singing a new song, but something just was just not right.

When I looked at the congregation, they were all standing there, with their arms folded and a blank stare on each of their faces. Even the six year old boy on the front row had his arms folded! It was appalling!

Thankfully, I woke up from this dream and realized it wasn’t real.

We have had some interesting experiences introducing new songs, but nothing quite that drastic!

Matt goes on to share seven different ways to bring new music into your church’s worship catalog. Not every method will work for every church, but that’s okay. Check out the list here.

Making Your Worship Team A Ministry Incubator

As a worship leader, you should be spending as much time developing your team as you do practicing your instrument. Elizabeth Rhyno explains why every worship team should always be developing new players and leaders:

The Christian life is intrinsically a call to others. It has in its essence a life-on-life trajectory. But the focus of the musician can often turn inwards, goals of perfection driving the artist to hone and hone (and hone!) the craft. The lens of becoming as skilled as possible can sometimes obscure the value of developing others. Further, the drive for excellent production can sway some worship teams to exclude novice players altogether, rather than enveloping-to-develop them. I’d like to propose how worship teams can create an environment that nurtures and integrates newer players.

She goes on to list four ways that our worship teams can become safe places for new players to learn and develop. Check it out here. Good stuff.

Why We Repeat

One common complaint about modern worship songs is all the repetition, but is that a fair criticism?

David Mathis takes on the subject of repetitive worship songs and why they’re nothing new:

But do we know what our unprecedented access to novelty is doing to us? All indications are that it’s threatening to make us shallower, not wiser and more mature. Running our eyes across the page and mouthing words to a song are not the same thing as experiencing the reality in our hearts. Our hearts simply don’t move as quickly as our eyes and our mouths.

Which makes corporate worship such an important elixir for what is increasingly ailing us today.

Take Psalm 136 as a flashing red light from the divine that our newfound intolerance for repetition is out of step with what it means to be human.

For the record, “our newfound intolerance for repetition” just became one of my new favorite phrases.

Read David’s full post here. It’s a powerful counterpoint to the repetition complaint.

Six Ways To Help The Service Flow

One thing that drives me nuts in a worship service is “dead air” – not intentional silence, but awkward pauses. And there’s a world of difference between the two. An area that’s especially prone to an awkward silence is the gap between songs, but you can fill that space.

Matt McChlery shares six tips for a service that flows smoothly:

Flow is an important element of a worship service that needs to be thought out and planned in order for a service to move seamlessly from one part to another. There are many aspects to worship (it’s not just the ‘singing bit’) and parts to a church service, so invariably the things that help to create smooth transition and flow from one section to another are numerous and varied. In this post I will share a few musical ideas to help with flow in the sung part of a church service.

Check out Matt’s full post here. Great advice for filling in those gaps.