Home Worship & Creative Leaders Articles for Worship & Creative How to Make That Song You Love Work for Your Church

How to Make That Song You Love Work for Your Church

You hear a worship song. It’s a good song. You want to do that song in your church. You want your congregation to sing that song. You can picture that song working well on a Sunday morning at your church.

So you buy/download (or make) a chord chart/lead sheet/rhythm chart/orchestration of that song. And you send/post the mp3 for your worship team.

Sunday comes and you teach the song and lead it in your context. Exactly like it was on the recording! Every measure, every chord, every melodic riff and every repeat. But strangely enough, it didn’t go ever quite as epic-ly as it did on the recording.

Of course it didn’t.

It’s not a bad thing to hear a song on an album or at a conference and want to incorporate it in your own setting.

And it’s not bad to get/make an arrangement of it and get it to your musicians to rehearse.

But in between your musicians hearing the song, and the actual implementation of that song in your rehearsals and services, a very important thing has to take place.

You have to own the song.

You have to tailor four important things in every song in order to make it work in your specific context.

1. The key. Is it too high? Is it too low? Transpose the song up or down a few steps to get in the average voice’s sweet spot.
2. The repeats. Just because the chorus needed to be repeated five times in a stadium full of 15,000 people doesn’t mean it should be repeated five times in your hotel ballroom of 150 people.
3. The feel. On the recording, the drums start it off, and the electric guitar drives the verse, and the chorus is an epic rock anthem. But in your church of mid-50 Cleveland residents, perhaps you should straighten it out a little bit.
4. The goal. A producer and a mixing engineer listen to a song asking the question, “How can I make this sound awesome?” And of course they should. That’s their job. But a worship leader listens to a song and asks, “How can I make this accessible to my congregation?” And of course, a worship leader should. That’s their job.

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Jamie was born and raised in Florida as a preacher’s kid. Since age 14, he has been leading worship pretty much every Sunday of his life, experiencing all of the joys and trials of church ministry. For over 10 years, Jamie has been writing at his blog, Worthily Magnify, in the hopes of helping worship leaders lead better. In 2006, Jamie married Catherine, and they now have four wonderful kids: Megan, Emma, Callie, and Jacob, who keep them busy, laughing, praying, and very grateful to God.