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    Selecting Songs for Your Congregation

    Giving our congregations the best opportunity to worship. August 1, 2019 Simon Gough

    As worship leaders, we put the words of worship on the lips of our congregation. The songs we choose are how our congregations will express their corporate worship with their church family that week. Putting it that way gives weight to our role that sometimes gets lost in the busyness and “noise” that clouds our thoughtful, prayerful, and intentional worship music selection. 

    Simon GoughGiving our congregations the opportunity to worship through theologically rich, sound lyrics is a blessing that we can impart as the worship leader. Being conscious of the words that we are asking our congregations to use, in praise to the King of kings, is imperative. With the volume of worship music available, there are a lot of songs that are full of Christian cliches and shallow words. We need to be conscious that we are not leading worshippers to the “shallow end” of the worship pool, but that we give them space to dive into their worship and fully express their love and praise for God. There will be a debate about the lyrics of songs that you choose for worship. Do not shy away from this. As the worship leader, you should be prepared for this because you have wrestled and prayed through these lyrics as you have chosen them. Delve into a healthy spiritual debate about the lyrics of songs, learn from the perspective of others and grow together as worshippers. This is a sign that your congregation is invested in worship and wants to engage with their Creator. 

    Being aware of the dynamic in your congregation - age, ethnicity, language, preference of worship style. This will guide us as we provide the songs for our congregation to sing.  I recently heard that someone looks at the age range of worshippers in their congregation and decides to use that as the guide for selecting songs. If the age range was 50 years, the age of the songs needed to equal 50 years. For example, if you pick a song that is two years old and a song that is 10 years old, then you would need to select a song that is 38 years old. This is just one method of forcing ourselves as worship leaders to add variety to our worship music selections. This variety can help us reach the different members of our congregation and engage with them in a place that is familiar. This is so they are not only learning new songs but engaging deeply because the familiarity gives them room to engage with God. 

    Free yourself from the bondage of keeping up with the latest and greatest worship songs. I receive a huge amount of new music through email notifications every week. Just keeping up with that would take a significant amount of time that I should be using to focus on the needs of my own congregation. This doesn’t mean we don’t use any new music. We want to sing the new song that God has put on our hearts, but it cannot be at the expense of our congregation's worship right now. Balancing this is one of the great challenges of the modern worship leader. 

    GuitarsPicking songs for worship can be daunting. The sheer amount of songs available to us as worship leaders is enormous. If we let it, it can be crippling just wading through the options that we have and trying to make the best decisions for our congregation. Keeping the heart of the servant leader at the forefront, and prayerfully considering how we should be leading our congregations, is the best place to start. God bless you as you lead His people wherever you are. 

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