Does what we sing really matter? Choose and find songs for worship

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It happens every week, all over the world. As a church comes together to worship God, a worship pastor and team have the opportunity to lead the worship of the God of the Ages, Alpha and Omega, Who Is, Always Was, and Who is yet to come—the Almighty.

How do you approach this task and be ready each week to point people to Christ? So many times it seems like we start with a blank sheet of paper and pray that God will miraculously show us songs to sing and other things to include in worship. Maybe that’s one way to go, and believe me, I did it that way, but maybe it’s not the best way.

In this day when it is possible to pull music from the internet, stream it by ear, or even sing along to your own music or that of your friends, the role of the worship pastor is even more important when selecting songs. We are now the curators of the hymnal our church uses, and with that comes a great responsibility. Consider this checklist for the music you select:

Is it biblical? Do the words and ideas of the song line up with scripture? If not, don’t use it, period.

What does the song really say? Does it say what you would like to say in a way that you would like to say it? It is also a “cross check” for any confusing or misleading language that may be misunderstood by the singer or listener.

Is the song honored by God? In the context of a worship service, each song should be intended to honor and glorify God and the message of Scripture. We must “make the message plain and clear” by choosing texts that glorify God.

Is the song written well so that it communicates in an engaging way? If a song is popular or well known, there will be many arrangements of the song. Take the time to find an arrangement that works for the people in your context.

Is the song in a “singable” range for your church (and for you)? Imagine me standing on a soap box right now. Most of the songs the artist sings are too high for the average church member to sing. Believe me, people may like the song, but they won’t sing it if it’s out of their reach. Also, remember, a song for the church should be in their range, not in the range of the worship leader or worship team/choir.

Finding worship music is a primary task, and it’s important that your team has the resources they need to play and sing the songs well. Most songs will have multiple arrangements, and there are great options literally at your fingertips. Here are some resources for congregational worship that are easy to use and easy to find:

  1. cult of lifestylelifewayworship.com (note, this is different from Lifeway.com) Lifeway Worship features both a huge selection of modern and traditional songs.
  2. Praise Boardspraisecharts.com. Like Lifeway Worship, Praisecharts has many great resources, including arrangements that are very similar to the artists’ version of a song.
  3. the anthem– depending on the anthem you have, there are modern songs as well as songs that have been linked to Christians for many years.
  4. Celebrate Gracecelebrant-grace.com. It is a resource for a more traditional expression of worship, but excellent arrangements for piano, organ and church orchestra.

The opportunity to plan worship is both a blessing and a great responsibility. Worship planning comes from the heart of the worship pastor who is in tune with God and sensitive to how God is working in and through the church or group you lead.

As you plan worship, let our prayer first be that God “grant my heart to sing of Your grace.” A “listening” heart will sound a song of praise that glorifies God and advances the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

JOIN US FOR THE WORSHIP LEADERSHIP SUMMIT for “Scripture-Guided Worship,” May 9 in Oklahoma City, Village or Tulsa, First. To visit oklahomabaptists.org/worship-music to register and for more details.

Photo by Bruno Croci on Unsplash

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