Choosing Songs for the Right Reason


By Ryan McClouth

Are you choosing music that’s right for your congregation? This is a question we should all be considering as church leaders. Are we choosing music for the right reasons? Sometimes we tend to make selections based on what other churches are doing, trends in worship music or the opinion of a few congregation members. Sometimes those aren’t the best option.
There are many reasons to select a piece of music for worship. Among the top priorities are: glorifying God, edifying revelations He delivers to us and worshiping in fellowship with each other. Each of these items share at least one commonality: taking action. Can you argue that each of these can be accomplished internally without actually engaging physically? Yes, but it isn’t the same. Additionally, it isn’t biblical. There are many scriptures calling us to actively sing praise to the Lord. Psalm 33:1 is one example which states, “Sing for joy in the Lord, oh you righteous ones; praise is becoming to the upright.”
Given this logic, we should all be singing together on every worship song. Having said that, our modern culture is far from perfect. People choose not to sing based on many different reasons. Sometimes for preference-related reasons, sometimes for skill-related reasons. For the sake of practicality, let’s tackle the skill-related reasons today. 
Skill-related reasons include — but are not limited to — music being too fast, too slow, too wordy, too high, too low or outside the congregant’s scope of experience. 
Sometimes the untrained singer simply can’t keep up if these items are within their extreme limits. If these are the reasons that people aren’t singing, it’s on you as the music leader. 
Of this list, I think the “scope of experience” quality tends to be overlooked. If your congregation consists of mature adults who have a background with traditional hymnody, then approaching cutting edge contemporary worship songs for every selection each week is probably a bad idea. Stick to what your congregation does well. 
Doing contemporary music for the sake of doing contemporary music is not a valid stance, and may 
be excluding some of your church members from participating, which is the top priority of your job.
Conversely, doing only throwback hymns in a space where younger congregants may have more experience with contemporary may not be the best route. At the end of the day, consider the background of your congregation. It’s O.K. to stretch people, but you need a starting point.