An important concept to grasp is how we introduce new songs and the follow up to help them become part of the congregation’s vocabulary of worship.
Introducing new songs can kill worship. Therefore it is important that we introduce and reinforce new songs in a way that will quickly help people to make the new songs an expression of their worship. Here are nine ways to help your congregation become familiar with and sing the new songs you introduce to them:
1. Begin Your Service with the New Song
The new song will not interfere with the forward movement of worship if it comes at the beginning. You can follow the new song with a familiar one and continue your progression of worship. It is also best to repeat the verse and/or chorus several times. This way the melody and lyrics have a better opportunity to imprint themselves on the congregation’s hearts and minds.
2. If you want to use the song later in the service, simply introduce it before the worship service begins.
Tell the congregation that this is a new song, that you’ll be singing it again later in the service and that you want everyone to get familiar with it before the worship time begins. Then sing through a verse and a chorus (you can do this with just the acoustic guitar or keyboard). In a sense, you open worship with a teaching time, introducing a new song that can then be used later in worship.
3. The New Song needs to be sung several weeks in a row.
This is a concept that is so often overlooked by worship leaders and one of VITAL IMPORTANCE. One-third or more of your church is absent on a given Sunday. There are other circumstances that reduce the overall attendance numbers on any given Sunday. Use the Rule of 3-1-1 or 2-1-1. Repeat a new song for two or three consecutive Sundays and then give it one Sunday of rest. On the next Sunday, add it back to worship and see how well the congregation has learned it. With this kind of repetition, you are helping the congregation take on the song as part of its worship vocabulary. Unfortunately, if you do the song one week and then skip a month or more, the song may seem new all over again. It is imperative that you use repetition in learning the new song!
4. Introduce new songs in small group settings before you use them with your congregation.
When more people are familiar with the song, the congregation grasps the new song much quicker. Teach the song in youth worship venues, small group Bible studies, choirs, men’s groups, or any other smaller setting that occurs in your church’s life. The more people who know the song before you introduce it in worship, the better the experience will be.
5. Introduce the new song as “Presentational Music/Special Music.”
A soloist or ensemble could sing the song the Sunday before using it with the congregation. A nice instrumental arrangement can help people learn the tune.
6. Play a recording of the new song as people are gathering for worship.
You can select ten new songs to introduce in the coming months and have them played as people gather for worship. Little by little, the people become familiar with the songs before the songs are formally introduced in worship.
7. Create a webpage with a virtual jukebox of upcoming worship songs.
Create a webpage with a virtual jukebox of upcoming worship songs using Spotify.com or YouTube videos embedded or linked on the church’s website. As long as you are using Spotify audio or YouTube videos, you do not need to secure licenses. To legally embed your in-house audio files, you would need a license (for a streaming license to cover this, check out this license). The cost is greater, but you would have the same benefits as previously mentioned. Begin with only about ten songs so that people will first focus on those. Take a look at the Top 100 CCLI songs.
8. Create DIGITAL MEDIA or DOwnloads of New Songs for Distribution
If your church obtains the CCLI Rehearsal License, you can create a means of digital distribution (CDs, flash drives, download links, etc.) for your congregation of the upcoming new songs. Distribute these to your congregation and ask them to spend time with the songs, getting familiar with them and worshipping with them in their personal times. Be sure to provide great congregational-friendly arrangements in keys average people can sing in. The best resource to find congregational worship songs that are accessible to the average person is LifeWayWorship.com. They have great audio files of all their arrangements that you could use in church to mirror what your congregation is listening to. For example, you could: 1) Begin with the first ten new songs from a new song introduction timeline to produce the first 10 songs for mass distribution. This one should ideally go out at least four weeks before you begin introducing these new songs. 2) Plan a second distribution several weeks later for the next ten songs. This will accelerate your ability to engage your congregation with new songs in worship.
9. Prepare a Weekly Guide
A weekly guide will help your people prepare for worship in way beyond being familiar with the new songs. See Worship Prep Publication: A Great Way to Improve Corporate Worship, for more information.
What additional ways do you introduce new songs to your congregation?
Please add your comments!
As you are introducing new songs to your congregation, be sure to spend time with your choirs, vocal teams, instrumentalists, etc. getting familiar with the songs weeks ahead to aid their confidence in leadership of the new songs.
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Information about this series
- How do we find the BEST songs in a pool of hundreds of news songs?
- How do we filter possible songs to see if they are suitable for our congregation, knowing that every congregation has its unique DNA?
- How do we introduce new songs in a way that will capture the hearts of our people and help them adopt the song as their own expression of worship?
- Why is the original, artist version of a song usually not a good idea for our congregation?
- How many songs should be on rotation in our church–i.e. how many songs should be on our song list from which we plan worship?
- How do we help our congregations REALLY sing the songs (active participants) in worship rather than be spectators?
- What does the song repertoire look like in a church that seeks to be unified/multigenerational?
There is so much to unpack here, but I invite you to journey with me as we sincerely seek to be the best worship leaders we can be in helping our congregations truly worship. Kenny