Look at the popular Top 40. How many of those songs sound like Coldplay and U2?
Three? Four? But the majority of churches turn every song into a Coldplay or U2 song. We even do covers of their songs to start our services.
So here’s the question:
Does our worship reflect the shifting musical preferences of our culture? Should it? Do we show the same amount of innovation and creativity as the music industry does?
As a worship leader, I had to examine my church when I thought about those questions.
I don’t really listen to the radio. And I’m not proposing we swap our worship sets between Coldplay, Nicki Minaj, and Justin Bieber.
But how we do initiate new things into our worship? How do we avoid perpetuating dead music in our services?
Keep Things Fresh
Introduce new music! Everyone may love “God of Wonders,” but it’s time for something new.
Twitter is one of the places I gather the most information on what other worship pastors are doing in their churches. It’s also how I find a ton of new music to introduce to my congregation. The idea is to keep your vision fresh by changing things up now and then.
Throw in an acoustic set every now and then. It can be a breath of fresh air.
Most radio listeners have very eclectic tastes.You and I may love Hillsong, Tomlin, Crowder, and Redman; but to a lot of people, our worship sets sound like the same thing every week. Many people are listening to one station that will play Coldplay, Nicki Minaj, Needtobreathe, and (everyone’s favorite) Nickelback, one right after another. Don’t be schizophrenic with each song in your worship set, but don’t be afraid to try something new.
Explore New Territory
We all get stuck in ruts. Routines. But staying in the same place for too long can be bad for you. Get out there and figure out what is new in 2012. Do the work and study your culture. Find new bands that are currently in the top ten on iTunes and listen to some of their music.
Is there anything that you can implement into the way you play a particular worship song? Maybe it’s a guitar or vocal part that you’ve never heard before and gives you new inspiration.
What are people in your church listening to? I found the best way to find new music for pre-service mixes and songs we play on Sunday (secular or worship) was to ask people. Make it your status update on Facebook. You might be surprised at the feedback you get. Bite the bullet and listen to new stuff you normally wouldn’t. Who knows, you might even like that new Maroon 5 song.
Risk and Excellence
Things are changing all the time. Musical styles, graphics, sermon series, staff people. What should never change is your willingness to take a risk and to make sure you do it with excellence: risk and excellence. I find when I talk to worship pastors these are the two things we most often lack. It’s usually because we don’t want to put in the time to get better, find something new, and do it the best way we can. This is often reflected in how we lead our teams through rehearsals, walkthroughs on Sunday mornings, and for some of us, not giving God our best during our gatherings. Some weeks we may feel like we have “it” and some weeks we don’t.
Regardless of what musical style your church leans toward, we need to be in a constant state of examination about what is and isn’t working on Sundays to better glorify God and bring people closer to Him. We need to be willing to make the hard decisions: if something needs to be put to death in our services or if we need to come to the realization that something has been dead for a while.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are we missing out on what our culture is interested in musically? What do we need to change to try to reach the hearts of those wanting to worship God in a different way? Is something “dead” in your worship services? Does something need to die?