Planning Sunday's Songs-Plan Selectively

Featuring Bob Kauflin Posted on January 8, 2011

We have more songs available to sing than anyone in church history. That means we don't have to settle for those that “kind of” say what we want, orsongs that are boring, or songs whose music is more memorable than their lyrics. And we certainly don't have to use songs just because they're popular.

Great songs come from a variety of sources. We've used hymnals,worship web sites, independent band CDs, nationally known worship artists,quarterly song services, compilation CDs, and recommendations from friends.

We've also encouraged and used songs from budding writers in our own congregation.

When researching songs, I generally think of them in one of four categories.

“Don't Use” is for those with words that are unbiblical or unclear or just bad poetry.

“In Private” is for songs that I can listen to on my own but that wouldn't serve our church. The lyrics might include an obscure phrase or verse or beset to poor or complicated music.

The “Could Use” category is for songs that are a good choice for the congregation depending on the situation, need, and context.

And “Should Use” are songs like “In Christ Alone” or “Blessed Be Your Name.” They communicate truth about God in such a compelling and clearway that I make it a priority to teach them to the church.

Plan Peacefully

There's a good chance you've heard another worship leader talking excitedly about some new song he recently introduced to his congregation. It's incredible, he says. Life-changing. Awesome.

You've never even heard of it.

Your heart sinks, and you start to panic as you realize how behind youmust be. You just don't want to be out of the loop when it comes to what's happening in the worship world.

You can relax. Our peace comes from knowing we don't have to wonder if we're missing “the” song that's going to make all the difference on Sunday.Our confidence is never in any particular song but in a gracious God. Thoughhe can use new songs to impart an eternal truth in a fresh way, he isn't confined to them. He does amazing things with old songs too.

Plan Prayerfully

God is eager to help us as we prepare, but he wants us to ask him for that help. We don't simply plan for meetings; we plan for people. Ask God forsongs that will serve those you're leading rather than ones you like or ones that will make you look good.

Every person walking in on Sunday morning has unique needs, specificsins he or she is battling, blind spots, and a tendency to forget the gospel. Wehave the awesome privilege of pointing everyone to the greatness, goodness,and grace of Jesus Christ. We need the Holy Spirit's power to be effective, as we'll never outgrow our need for his help.

And God is eager to answer our prayers for direction.

Plan with Others

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil”(Ecclesiastes 4:9). I've found that to be true when planning songs. You'd think that after thirty years of leading worship I could do this by myself. But I don't want to. The results just aren't as good.

Planning with others involves a level of trust, developed over time. It also requires humility, because I'm acknowledging I'm not “Mr. Worship” with all the answers.

When I plan with my pastor, a team, or someone else I respect and trust,our different giftings of teaching, pastoring, or administration complement each other. We also benefit from different personal perspectives. Doctrinally rich songs may need to be balanced with simpler ones, familiar songs with new ones. We need to remember youth as well as senior saints, members as well as guests.

Communication can take place by e-mail or phone or in a face-to-facemeeting. We've found that things go more smoothly when someone comes upwith a suggested song list to work from rather than starting from scratch. Andthe earlier in the week we begin planning, the easier it is to make changes, notify the worship team, and pray through what we're planning to do.

Occasionally my pastor wants me to do a song I wouldn't choose. After I let him know my reservations, we dialogue about it, but I leave the final decision to him. I'm here to serve my senior pastor, and I want to follow his lead whole heartedly.

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