A Worship Resolution for the New Year
“And they sang a new song…” (Rev. 5:9)
The New Year is upon us and it’s time to re-group after the hectic happenings of the Christmas season. Pageants, musicals, choral programs, and special services fill the holidays with a lot of music. These highlights of the Christian year are wonderful, yet the next Sunday is upon us and Worship leaders and planners are often so busy during the holidays that there is little time to plan for January. The ebb and flow of Christian celebrations leaves no excuse to forget the relentless march of week after week of Sunday services.
One of the simpler resolutions worship planners and leaders can make is to learn and teach new music to the congregation this year. You might question why I suggest this is “simple.” Let me explain the process that I have used effectively over the years to teach congregations new music and build the repertoire of the church.
First, let me remind you that we are not replacing the entire song list of your congregation. Worship music must be balanced to contain familiar songs that bring comfort to the church members, as well as some new ones to keep them interested. And, that’s where new music can be incorporated effectively. With that in mind, we can carefully introduce new songs that will become integral to the worship of our community.
To keep the introduction of new music simple, it must be limited. In other words, we are only going to teach twelve new songs in the entire year. That’s one per month. Why so few? Primarily because our congregations are not made up of musicians who will pick up on a new song the first time it is sung. If picked carefully, even some of the musicians on the worship team will have to spend some time learning the music to lead it well.
To make it even easier to manage, split the year into quarters. By doing so you will only need to pick three songs right away for January, February and March, and then you can make a note on your calendar sometime in March to pick three more songs for the following quarter. This process can be repeated for each quarter and can help to keep the initial investment of time for each quarter to a minimum.
As for song choice, it’s probably not the best idea to listen to your Christian radio station or check the “Top 100” list at CCLI or some other Christian music source. Although many songs are popular, popularity does not necessarily make them sing-able for a congregation. You must understand your congregation and how well they sing. Many popular songs and choruses have obvious pitfalls: vocal range is too high or too low, the rhythms have too much syncopation, the match of melody and words is cumbersome, etc. Remember that our goal is for the congregation to sing and worship together, not for the worship planner or leader to lead their favorite songs or choose songs that fit their style or range.
I suggest looking around for music as broadly as possible. A new song for a congregation does not have to be a song written in the last few years. You may find that a song from a hymnal or older chorus book would really benefit your congregation. My point is that it will take some work to really find some well-written congregational songs that will fit for your church. You might even find a song writer in your own church.
Once chosen, the process for introducing the new songs is simple as well. In early January, have a soloist introduce the first song as a piece of special music. The following week have the worship team teach the song to the congregation. This might take more time than just singing through it. Teaching the chorus first could work, while the worship team sings the verses and the congregations join on the chorus. It will depend on the song, but the rule is that the congregation will need to be taught the song. Don’t expect that they will just “pick it up.”
In week three, take a break from the song for congregational singing. It could be used as an instrumental prelude or offertory piece so attendees can be reminded of the melody. Finally, in the final week of the month, insert the song into the regular order of the worship music. In the following month, also use the song a couple of times in the regular mix of the worship. The first and third weeks are ideal for this since the new song being introduced does not require congregational participation on those weeks.
After this kind of exposure to a new song, many people in the congregation will know it and begin to sing with more luster and engagement. Trying to rush this process will end in frustration for many, and we are already seeing a huge decline in the desire of church attendees to sing and participate in worship. That is certainly a topic for another article.
Repeating this process month-by-month provides the potential of learning twelve new songs in a year without too much planning and overload. In fact, even though we are part way through January right now, it’s something that could be incorporated into your worship planning this week. And even if that feels too quick, start in February instead. Either way, this is a manageable and simple plan to teach new music to your church.
(Original Post on Jan. 7, 2014 at the Worldview Church: http://www.worldviewchurch.org/worshiparts/articles/21035-a-worship-resolution-for-the-new-year)
Posted on December 29, 2014, in Christian Worldview, Content of Worship, Corporate Worship, Leadership, theology, Worship Leader and tagged Mark Sooy, theology, worship, worship leader, WorshipThink. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.