A few years ago, I was at the Saddleback Worship Conference and Chris Tomlin introduced a new song, “How Great”. It was so powerful that I video taped it (don’t tell anyone) came home, learned it (I use the term ‘learned’ very loosely) and played it that week. That song is one that has really stuck with the “Big C” (as our Pastor says). I still play it today.
On the other hand, I was at a conference a few years ago and heard Charlie Hall play “My Drink”. While that song is great and has stuck with our Church (Little C) it hasn’t really caught on with the Big C. While it is one of the only upbeat communion songs that I’ve ever heard (and one of my favorites) I’ve quit using it because I’m not sure it’s the best choice…
Now, I’m sure I’m not the only one that after about a year of playing “I can only imagine” got sick of it and stopped playing it. While that’s fine for me personally, I’m not sure that it’s the best for the Church (neither “Little C” nor “Big C”). So from time to time I’ll throw it in again. The same is true of “How Great”… are you following along with all this “Big C”/”Little C” stuff? Hang in there, I’m getting there.
I’m pretty sure that being a worship leader is more than just playing good music and encouraging others to worship. What if our role as Worship Leaders is to be a filter (amongst other things) for the Church “Little C”?
For the last 7 years I’ve been desperately looking for the newest, coolest, trendiest songs to play at Church. While there is much validity in that quest, I’m learning that it’s also important to be very patient with our song choices. The newest, coolest, trendiest songs aren’t always the best for the Church (Big C or Little C). In effect, I believe that it’s our responsibility to pick songs that will encourage the “Little C” to worship wherever they might be. This will in turn make for some incredible “Big C” worship. That’s a powerful thought!
With that in mind, here are some things that I now consider when choosing songs for the “Little C”.
Christian Radio: That’s right… I said it! While I get tired of listening to Christian Radio as much as the next guy, I think it’s important to have it as a pre-set in your car or on your iPhone. Whether you like to think about it or not, there is a vast majority of God’s people listening to Christian Radio everyday as they drive to and from work. I believe that it’s important to be current on the most popular worship songs being played on your local Christian Radio Station… (Thank God we have Air1)!
CCLI Top 100 List: This is a great place to find out what other Churches around the world are playing. By checking this out you can see what songs are catching and what songs aren’t. So when you hear a new, amazing song, swing by this site and see if other people think it’s amazing too! That way, if and when people from your Church attend a conference, a friends Church or God forbid just up and decide to start going somewhere else (heathens!), they’ll have a great background of familiar songs to take with them.
Blogging: One of the cool things that I’ve discovered through blogging is the “Worship Confessional” that Los started a while back. What a great way for worship leaders across the nation to share what they’re doing in their local Churches. Once again, if people attend or become a member of another Church, they’ll have an arsenal to take with them.
Attending Conferences: This can be a positive and a negative. While on one hand I go to a conference, hear a great song and want to play it that week (like “How Great”), on the other hand, I have to realize that it might not catch. But it doesn’t hurt to get out there and hear new music.
Time: One of my newest filters is time. I’ve trained myself to sit on a new song for a while. I’ll hold onto it and check CCLI, surf blogs and do some research on it by filtering it through some of the things mentioned above. That way I don’t introduce a new song until I know if it’s going to stick. A couple of examples of this are “The Time Has Come” & “Mighty To Save”. I know that they’ve been around for a while. I’ve been wanting to do both of them for almost a year or more, but I haven’t. In fact I just introduced them this month. I had more comments on those two songs than I’ve had in a while. I believe it’s because they’ve had time to circulate through radio, CD and the Internet. The “Big C” already owns them and now our Church (Little C) is ready to worship with The Church (Big C).
I’m interested to hear what kind of filters you run your songs through.