This Sunday night (October 3) we are having a little gathering at Oak Park called “Sing a New Song”. As we prepare for our major fall series (called “tears” by the way), there are a a bunch of new songs that I am planning on rolling out into our worship services. So, I thought rather than just surprise everyone every week with the new songs, I’ll put on a night where I can introduce them all to people so that when they come around again they will be a bit more… shall we say, familiar? Yes we shall. T’will also be a great chance for me to try out the songs as well, to help me get “inside them” a bit more.
T’will is a great word that I don’t use enough.
It’s going to be fun; more relaxed and interactive than the average church service… not that our average church services aren’t fun, but you know what I mean.
Anyways… I think new songs are incredible important for the Church and churches, but we all have our different methods and reasons for doing them, and in the end it’s all about what works for your specific congregation. However, for the sake of saying something on the matter, here are the top 3 reasons why I do new songs… feel free to add to the list.
Oh, and PS: I am not including “the bible tells us to”, in this list because a) that’s a little obvious and b) for the sake of discussion, it’s a fairly weak entry. I think the “whys” of “the bible tells us to” is a much more meaningful discussion, but that’s just me. Also, these are just pertaining to “church” and “worship”… there are a million reasons why we, as Humanity, should sing new songs too (fun, life-giving, transference of ideas, etc.). And while neither these reasons listed or the ones in parentheses are mutually exclusive, the ones I’ve listed are framed for the church context blah blah blah… enough disclaimers. Move On!
3. New songs help encourage skill, creativity, and overall musical growth in the musicians you serve with. It can become very easy to settle into arrangement patterns and set parts for familiar songs. Sure, you can spice them up, but nothing challenges a team more than being given a new song and the task of figuring out how to do it in your context. It keeps all your musicians on their toes which is good for keeping them interested and growing.
2. New songs allow you to explore different topics and themes that relate to the current life of your church. For example: 10 years ago, there were, like, zero songs that explicitly talked about the role of the Church in regards to issues of social justice. Now there are more (“God of Justice” and “The Power of Your Name” to name a couple). Chances are, if you aren’t updating your repertoire regularly, these important and truthful themes will be missing from your church’s worship dialog. Plus, you have to take into account the current season of your church. I remember introducing those two justice songs over a year ago to my church and neither of them really caught on. Now, because of changes and growth in our community, they are connecting much better. If I wasn’t regularly and intentionally introducing new songs and themes (or in this case, re-introducing) I might have missed a window of opportunity to explore an important thematic area.
1. The number one reason in my mind for “why new songs” is… because familiarity breeds indifference. You know how sometimes you’ll hear a song and think “OMG! This is the best song ever!”, and you’ll listen to it over and over again because you can’t get enough of it? What happens over time? You get sick of it, or, if nothing else, it loses its “punch” and, though you may still really like it, you listen to it less because it’s stopped moving you. The same thing happens to the songs we sing in church.
I believe one of our main goals as a corporate church is engagement. No, I don’t mean hooking up all the single ladies (though, if you like it than you probably should put a ring on it…), I mean engaging and connecting with the heart and spirit of God through praise,expression, prayer and the study of the Word, and connecting as a community through the shared pursuit and participation in those things. If that is the case, then songs that cause people to glaze over and lazily stare off while habitually moving their mouths to the “bouncing ball” on the screen is NOT going to help you achieve your goal of engagement. We have to keep things fresh, not for the sake of “relevance” or “keeping up with the latest fad”, but for the sake of keeping our hearts and minds focused.
No, most new songs don’t say anything that older songs don’t. But, guess what? That is the very nature of art, creativity, expression, human history, etc. There is and never will be anything truly new “under the sun”. Everything is simply a composite of what came before. But to say something old and true in a new way is what joins us to the great chain of our shared history while also ensuring that the chain doesn’t stop.
So, sing a new song you churches and worship leaders! And if you are in the Calgary area this Sunday (October 3) come by and join us at 6PM. It’s gonna be sweet!