There are many great ideas out there for how best to choose songs for your Sunday services, the order you put them in, and the types of songs you choose. (And if all else fails, tip over the filing cabinet and choose the first four you pick up.) But recently I picked up a new great idea: purposefully limit your song repertoire for a short period of time so as to make newcomers to your church feel more included. Let me explain.
You know how it is when you are in a new church – and you know none of the songs? You stand there looking awkward, and the whole exercise reminds you “you are a newcomer”! Unless you work really hard to get your eyes off yourself and onto the meaning of the lyrics, this can be quite isolating. Imagine how much more so for a new Christian or someone who is checking out church for the first time. Imagine too how it feels when all those people around you are belting out “How Great Thou Art” which they have sung from infancy – and you just silently stand and wonder why ‘they’ are praising graphic design (“Art”).
How can music help in this scenario?
Well, if you deliberately limit your playlist to a small rotation of songs for a term (around 10 weeks) this will allow newcomers (providing they come back next week) to quickly become very familiar with some of the church repertoire, as you will be repeating them more often. They won’t have to wait six months before they get to sing the song again. If you repeat one or two songs from the previous week in each subsequent service it will make a real difference to how included new comers feel (“Hey, I know this one, we sang it last week”). Even better, if you build a culture of learning a new song nearly every week then this becomes a great way to put your newcomers in the same boat as everyone else. They will feel more part of the group because everyone is learning together.
It also helps to choose songs that (predominantly) sound like contemporary mainstream music, which will sound familiar (in terms of the rhythm and the mix of instruments) for your newcomers.
So how do you find enough new songs?
Well of course you can start by reading my blog – but you will find many more resources at: CCLI, Worship Together, Gettymusic, Sovereign grace music and churchmusictoday……to name but a few.
Buy lots of CDs from Sovereign Grace and the Gettys and EMU music (from Australia) and you will get some great ideas for singable songs. Sovereign Grace have all their lead sheets free online and I doubt you would ever exhaust such a wealth of great songs!