I tend to plan my semesters like a summer camp worship leader would plan his week. In a typical week-long camp you don’t want to introduce any new songs on Thursday. By Thursday everything should be a repeat so that on Friday students can sing with their eyes closed because they know the lyrics by heart.
That’s my hope. That on Baptism Sunday or Easter, only the new people in the crowd need the screens. My hope is that I’m planning every week with the end in mind. I’m not aimless as a worship pastor. I’m directional. Even in the songs we’re headed somewhere. All of this is leading to a moment months from now that our church may find timely yet not know it was timed.
Part of this thinking is due to where I live and where I’m from. I grew up in the land of worship leaders, and now live in a place where I only know two guys who play guitar and sing. One time after a service a student asked us if we wrote the songs Solid Rock and Come Thou Fount. I said thank you for the highest of compliments but no in fact those songs are hundred year old hymns.
Worship music isn’t as accessible or as pursued in the Northwest. If Chris Tomlin did a show in my city, many people would go for sure, but scores of people would not know who he is. Where I used to live people had Chris’s face tattooed on their stomach, right where their guitar rested.
I can’t sing 40 different songs in a semester. My people couldn’t keep up. Some stats say the average church goer now goes to church 1.8 times a month, so how is that person supposed to keep up? Creating rhythm in your semester song flow is essential to creating movement in your worship experience. I want, as I’m sure you do as well, for the songs of the church to bring people into the nearness of God. This can’t happen if every week they are playing catch up.
This can’t happen if you don’t sit down and map out what songs you want to do when.
My point is intended to be simple, but to make it more so, ask yourself these questions:
As worship leaders, are you being a longterm teacher of songs and of theology through songs?
Are you leveraging songs to serve and provoke and shepherd your people?
Or are you just throwing them together because the keys match?
Are you thinking 6 months in advance with your songs, laying them out methodically, intentionally, purposefully, knowing that the Spirit of God is going to use them in his perfect timing?
Are you asking yourself and your pastors and team what your church or group needs to be singing about. I heard Stuart Townsend wrote “In Christ Alone” after asking D.A. Carson what truth he thought the church needed to be singing about, and Dr. Carson responded, "The Deity and exclusivity of Christ."
Plan. That’s what today’s post is submitting to you. Plan and pray and plan and pray some more. Plan and pray so much you have even planned your moments of freedom. And the hope is, in that freedom, you’ll see that it was all a part of the plan.