If you missed parts 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 you can find them here.
Question #6: Do we bring too many new songs to our congregations?
As a songwriter, musician, worshiper and arranger I love to continually write new songs, improve as a musician and worship in new ways, with new songs. God has given me a passion for songwriting and unless I’m writing, playing, worshiping and recording I’m not going to be content. It’s what I love to do. I also love to learn new songs from other worshipers and there’s probably no amount of “new” that I wouldn’t appreciate. But I also realize that most people are not wired this way and that worship is not about me. It’s about Him first and it’s about helping to connect the congregation to the Creator. I have learned and witnessed over the years that there are many ways this can happen and many ways it can be hampered.
I have also learned over the years that each church and its congregation are unique. What “works” in one setting may not work in another. I will use the church I served in as the worship leader as an example. This church family is a mature, worshiping, music-loving bunch and no matter how many new songs we played and sung, it never seemed to be a problem. In fact, many made it clear to me they loved singing new songs. But I’m guessing this is the exception, not the rule.
So for me the first and clearest indication that we are in the right place is that the congregation is singing, not just the church standards, but all of the songs. This tells me that there is a connection to the songs, a desire to learn and sing them and that the worship set is not keeping them from worshiping freely and easily. But on the other hand, if we only sing the handful of songs that everyone knows can that also be an issue? I believe any song we sing with worshiping hearts will be pleasing to God. But God the Creator is still creating, still inspiring, still teaching, still listening and still revealing. And if these 12 notes He’s given us (yes, there are only 12 different notes in western music) can still be used to create, craft and inspire something new, why wouldn’t we?
I think it’s important to also realize that this is not the church of 1970. Most places in this country are much more culturally diverse than ever before. And worship music that changes, evolves and “meets them where they are” is much more likely to be an effective bridge between the church body and God. For this to happen new songs need to be sung, new sounds need to be played and new perspectives need to be explored. This is not to say the old songs shouldn’t be played—they just shouldn’t be the only songs played.
Another thing I have thought about often is how much I have learned through spoken and sung words. A new song can bring new revelation, a new thought process, a wow moment or just a new take on something you already knew.
Psalm 96:1 says, Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. And that’s what I’m going to do. But there’s beauty in the old, the comfortable and the traditional. I want to live in the intersection of what I know and what I have yet to hear.