Songs: Which ones? What order? How often?
You may come from an amazingly organized church that has some kind of ‘format’ set up for planning musical worship times. You may come from a church that does similar song sets every week or is restricted to particular songs due to instrumentation limits or vocal ability… No matter where you come from, the questions I hear quite often in regards to ‘how to plan a service’ are generally the same: Which songs? What order? How often?
So, let’s look at the above questions a little more closely…
This is the moment where it is helpful that you know the heart, or more specifically, the vision of your church, so that your song choices will lyrically line up with the vision of your services.
For instance, let’s go way back and take the song Days of Elijah. If your church has a specific heart for those that are visiting for their first time, the team that plans the Sunday morning service may want to be mindful when having a song with the lyric: “These are the days of Ezekiel, the dry bones becoming as flesh…” While I love the song and while the lyric is taken directly from scripture (Ez. 37), there are songs that would better fit that particular setting. If you know your Wednesday night is your ‘home crowd’ where it’s mostly those that are active, attending members, then Days of Elijah could certainly be in the rotation. See what I’m saying? (Ironically, ‘Throw back’ songs are a great way to keep a set fresh and people engaged.)
So how does one choose which songs? Be intentional. Choose songs for what they communicate to your church, as that is their purpose, and yours as well.
“Sing to the Lord a new song; Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.”
This is where being creative gets fun. Talk about the vision of the service with your pastor. If you have a service format that is open for change, let him guide you on what he’s thinking for the morning and then build around that.
People can sense when there’s a lack of thought that’s been put into a service. They are aware of the uneasiness of transitions, they can discern disconnected content, and they can notice when creativity of flow or transitions was placed before the actual songs themselves.
So remember that the order of your songs doesn’t have to be dictated by their tempo, but should be guided by the vision of the service itself.
Songs are usually kept on a rotation due to a positive response. I.e.: ‘Congregation loves that song.’ ‘Hands go up here.’ Whatever the case, we should be aware that it is easy for people to go on ‘auto-pilot’ when a song is in constant rotation.
As leaders it is important to recognize our responsibility to keep the song fresh.
Here are some ideas of how you can lead your congregation in receiving a familiar song with fresh perspective:
1. Beginning of the song:
– Lead a ministry moment where you share a brief simple thought with the congregation.
– Lead a brief prayer that confesses how awesome our God is.
2. Middle of the song:
– Add a visual scripture element during an instrumental moment.
– Add a testimony video during an instrumental moment.
While these answers have only scratched the surface, hopefully they are the openers to some quality conversations and fresh thoughts with your pastor and team.