A young, local leader emailed me recently that he had several worship leaders at his church and the church song repertoire was getting pretty large. Is that a problem? Is it too much for the congregation to absorb and engage in.
My programming director encouraged me to share my response with you. So, this is a synopsis of what I wrote. Remember, just my opinion and experience. Your mileage may vary.
Here's the question:
I was curious as to if you have any systematic approach to how often you use certain songs, or the life of a song at Westside. Right now I'm using planning center online and have a couple of different worship leaders being rotated in and out of the weekend services. I'm thinking that maybe our roster of songs is getting to be immense because we're doing a different set of songs almost every week. The musicians and singers love that, and it doesn't appear that we're sacrificing the congregation singing along, but should I want the congregation to better know what to expect?
I'm thinking about simply choosing 8-10 songs per series - Do you have any perspective for me?"
"Great to hear from you! I'll offer what little I have and see if it helps.
Statistically, the average committed church goer in the U.S. goes about 2 times a month. (Kind of sad, but true.) It may be different at your church. But it certainly rings true at Westside. Every time I do a new songs it takes a few weeks for everyone to hear it even once. Even longer to get familiar with it and actually engage with it in worship.
Here's what I would do with rotating worship leaders. I would have no more than 2 new songs taught in a given month at the very most. 1 is ideal. If another band is playing the following week, I would ask them to do that song as well. And depending on the song, do it a third week in a row. Then starting spreading it out.
I would create a central repertoire list that all the bands pick from. 1 single list of songs that the congregation is familiar with. If one of the leaders wants to introduce a new song to the church it has to meet your approval. i.e. you believe it is a song that should be a part of your churches worship vocabulary in that season. I would also make sure they are looking at the previous few weeks sets of songs as they are choosing their own set to make sure there is good continuity. I don't believe you should have four different sets of repertoire from 4 different bands with one band not wanting to play the other bands songs. That isn't healthy for the church. IMO.
I know that is tough to do. And you might feel like a troll that is controlling these young leaders who might be resistant. But, if you are the worship pastor for that community, you are responsibility for primarily serving the needs of the church in worship not the needs/wants/egos of any individuals on the team. Do what is best for the people in the seats. What is the best way to engage them in worship? How do you give them a continuity of vocabulary/songs that are appropriate for this season in the life of your church? What does God want to hear from His church right now? And let that drive your decisions.
If what you are doing is working and the church is engaging, keep doing that! If you need to make some adjustments, this is another way to look at it."
Stay faithful, leaders. What you do matters! Remember, love is not doing/saying the things people want from you. Love is doing and saying the things people NEED from you.