Well I think we’ve made it through the summer without too many injuries, avoided the worst of the weather and are now scrabbling around to find school uniform, work bags and car keys as we get back into the swing of things after extended holidays. And similarly, now we’ve completed our extended run of summer services we’re looking ahead to this coming Sunday when we resume our usual pattern of two morning services, a new series and new band rotas for the autumn. How about you?
Something I do on a termly basis is revise our song list*, and I particularly enjoy doing this after the summer break as so many from our congregation go to conferences such as New Wine and Soul Survivor, so have heard a great deal of new music. I always tap up those from the band, in charge of the youth, those with a good ear, even our senior minister, to get the low-down on what they thought was good, stood out and worked well in a worship and congregational setting.
There are so many good songs already in circulation, and so so many songs being released on a daily basis, it can be daunting to know where to start. We have a relatively small song list which has shrunk in number over time from the whole spectrum of the Songs of Fellowship book (circa 2000 +!) to our current list of 60 ish… but I do a regular rotation of this list three times a year, retiring some songs off of the list to make space for new songs while retaining some classics, some hymns, some popular favourites.
There is always a balance to strike between the desire to introduce the new and trendy as opposed to sticking with the comfortable old favourites…I have to work hard to resist introducing all of my new favourites, as the real danger is leaving the congregation behind and alienating your audience. Which is why I find this approach covers so many bases…getting feedback from a cross section of friends whom I trust, coupled with keeping an eye on the CCLI lists (we tend to look at the US version of the site) and new releases from artists who are a good fit with our style of worship at EBC (for us it’s Passion, Hillsong, Brenton Brown, David Crowder, Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, Soul Survivor) gives me a generous selection of songs to start with. I then go through them and listen out for songs that are playable by our bands and singable by our congregation…which may warrant a key change, and may need rearranging to fit with our line-up.
I spent most of yesterday refining this, including a complete overhaul of our children’s/all age worship songs, so once this is finalised I’ll post it up in the resources section so you can all see what we’re doing for the next four months.