Choosing songs for corporate worship is different than choosing songs for my personal time of worship.
I’m choosing what words to put into a congregation’s mouths to sing to King Jesus. This is very important.
So the three primary filters I use are:
Are the words you are singing true?
This doesn’t necessarily mean that it must be word for word from the Bible, but is it inspired by and true to Scripture? You simply can’t improve on what God has to say about God – He is the ultimate authority on Himself.
There are songs out there, hymns and contemporary alike, that are simply nonsense when it comes to their content. Your best tool in this effort is simply to be a student of the character and ways of God as revealed in the Bible.
Is this song making much of me or of God?
God is very passionate about His glory. He will not give it to another. Does this song focus on the attributes, character, and actions of God – His power, majesty, glory, justice, mercy, compassion, and greatness?
There will never be a shortage of things to focus on here, so a good test is to see how frequently you’re singing “I, Me, Us, and We” phrases. Then ask yourself, “Does this song focus on and exalt who God is and what He has done?”
Can people sing along with this? Is it memorable?
You are aiming for maximum participation, not a spectator concert that showcases your wonderful voice or musical wizardry. While some people are naturally musically inclined and can catch onto melodies rather quickly, most people are not.
Stick to simple melodies within a relatively narrow vocal range that the average non-singer can sing along with. Singability is the most helpful tool in your tool belt for teaching people about God in a way that they will easily remember.
As you are listening to a song trying to decide whether to use it or not, pay attention to what songs get stuck in your head, and when you find yourself singing it in the shower or walking down the street, you know you have a keeper (assuming it passed through the first 2 filters).