Right after Easter until the end of summer is a stress-free time for most worship leaders and a good opportunity to be teaching new songs your congregation. Here are a few guidelines to help your church quickly learn new tunes:
1. Introduce no more than one new song per week.
As worship leaders, we can get so excited about new music that before we know it our entire praise set is made up of nothing but new songs! Don’t let this happen — your congregation will overload.
I was visiting a big church in Dallas (aren’t they all big) and was enjoying the praise set but wasn’t really worshiping. As I thought about why, I realized I didn’t know any of the songs and my mind was occupied with the new melodies. Then the worship leader started on a popular worship tune I knew and I started to praise.
People worship with songs they know. It takes concentration to learn anything new, and that learning process can preempt the brain from going into worship mode. When the song is known the brain is freed from the learning process and can worship.
2. Use a new song in the middle or end of a praise set..
I’ve found congregations respond best to new music after they’ve had a chance to worship with songs they know and love. However, using an upbeat new song to open your service works well as a call to worship – people are settling in anyway as thy arrive. Follow the call to worship with announcements or a Scripture reading then launch into your set.
Try introducing a new worship ballad as a response to your praise set. For instance, a few years ago I introduced “I Give You My Heart” following a praise set that ended with the hymn “I Surrender All.” The entire morning’s music had a theme of consecration and “I Give You My Heart” was a perfect end to the worship.
3. Introduce a new song as special music..
Have a soloist sing the new song as an offertory special, and have the congregation join in on the last chorus.
4. Repeat, repeat, repeat..
Use the new song three weeks in a row — the first week is the introduction, the second and third weeks are reinforcement. Then, skip a week and try the song again on the fifth week to see if it has caught on.
Bottom Line: Keep your worship fresh with new material.
Arranger/composer Don Chapman is the creative energy behind several websites devoted to contemporary worship: HymnCharts, WorshipFlow, and WorshipIdeas.com. He’s the editor of the weekly WorshipIdeas newsletter that is read by over 50,000 worship leaders across the world.