Regardless of where your church is located or how it operates, you want to make sure you are intentionally picking songs that work well for your congregation.
Here are seven things to consider when choosing worship songs for your church:
All of the songs you pick should contain biblically sound theology. This means that you should pick songs that focus on the truths found in God’s Word and not on human opinions or assumptions about God. Doing this will give people a greater understanding of who God is, what He has done, and what He is going to do as revealed in Scripture.
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
The bottom line is this: The songs you choose will help shape what people think about God, so make sure your songs are consistent with biblical truth.
One of the mains goals for the songs you pick should be congregational involvement. This means that you should pick songs that have relatively easy melodies that your congregation can follow along with and sing. A great way to know if a song is singable or not is to evaluate how hard it was for you to learn. If it took you a while to learn, you can almost bet it will be difficult for your congregation to sing.
Since your church services are made up of both Christians and non-Christians, you want to pick songs with lyrics that the average person can understand. This isn’t to say that you are picking songs for seekers, but you are mindful of them when picking songs. God’s heart is to reach the whole world, so we should have the desire to do the same through the songs that we pick.
1 Cor. 14:19 But in a church meeting I would rather speak five understandable words to help others than ten thousand words in an unknown language.
While Paul is talking about speaking in tongues in this verse, the underlying principle is found a few verses later in verse 26: Everything that is done in church should strengthen everyone, not just some.
When you are deciding whether or not a song will be effective for your church, you want to ask yourself if the song has a central theme. This means that the song is directing people toward a distinct attribute of God or a certain response. A good way to tell if a song has a central theme is to listen to it and then ask yourself what was the overarching message of the song. Some examples of possible themes to look for in songs might be grace, love, mercy, glory, joy, greatness, etc.
Musically Interesting and Appropriate
After you have found songs that are good and solid lyrically, want to find songs that have a good level of musical interest. Try to avoid overly simplistic songs that feel boring or overly repetitive and instead find songs that are dynamic and powerful. On the other side of the spectrum, you also want to consider songs that are within the musical reach of your worship teams. If you are thinking of doing a song with a crazy electric guitar part but your electric guitarist has only been playing for a month, you may want to rethink your suggestion.
Culturally and Stylistically Relevant
You want to choose songs that are stylistically relevant to your cultural context. While there are many wonderful music genres used in churches, such as gospel, hymns, contemporary rock, country & western, R&B, etc., you want to be attentive to the culture in which you minister and pick songs that will be most effective to those you are trying to reach.
1 Cor. 9:22-23 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
Did It Work?
Even when a song fits all of the guidelines above, you still may introduce a song that just doesn’t work great for your church. There are some songs that may work well for your congregation and some that may not work as well. Sometimes the only way of knowing if a song works or not is to play it at your church a few times. If it works, great, if it doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to remove it from the rotation.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- Why is it important to think through what songs you are going to pick for your church service?
- Which of these points jumped out at you? Would you add any to this list? Would you take any away?
- Order these seven points from most important to least. Explain your reasoning.
- Read 1 Cor. 14:19. What are some examples of potentially confusing lyrics from the songs you have heard or played?
- Why would picking certain worship songs help your church? How could picking certain songs hurt your church?
- Read 1 Cor. 9:22-23. What genre of music works best for your setting? Why? Are there other genres that you think may work well?
- Have you ever picked a song that you thought would work well for your church but didn’t? What are the reasons it didn’t work?
- Takeaway: Using this list, identify some good worship songs that would work well for your church.