Song selection is very important in worship arts ministry. I don’t claim to be an expert in this area, but I thought I might share my process. I would love to hear yours as well if you are a worship leader.
Sometimes I do songs that the band and maybe the congregation doesn’t like, and I think that’s ok. I talked about the consumer-driven church in a previous post. Feel free to peruse that one as well if you wish. A lot of times we come to church with the idea that we are to be fed and served, and that may be true to a certain extent. But really, as Christians, we are called to serve. (Pastor Mark did a great job of teaching us about that this past week). What did Jesus do all of His life? He served. He even washed the stinky, nasty feet of His disciples. With all of that being said, many times I do songs for the people in our church that may not know Christ; for the visitor searching for God-knows-what. I do this in hopes that I may paint a kind of picture in their minds of Who Jesus really is. My ultimate prayer is that those unbelievers find what, perhaps, they didn’t even know they were looking for, which is a gracious and merciful God and a Savior in Christ Jesus.
Sometimes I pick a certain song, because there’s a particular individual on my heart that I’ve been praying for, and they’ve told me a certain song really moves them. I love to hear what speaks to people’s hearts, so if you go to my church, please feel free to tell me some of your favorites! A few months ago, one man in my church told me, with tears in his eyes, that the song From The Inside Out by Hillsong was his life story and that it reminded him of who he was before Christ. Last week, I did that song, and while we were singing it, I watched this man and many others worship Jesus with their whole hearts. That does my heart good.
The point is that I’ve been entrusted to seek out the heart and mind of God and to do His will when choosing songs. I have to listen to Him above anyone else in the selection process. The goal is always service, whether we are serving a population of unbelievers with one song and a population of sincere believers with another. Just because a certain song or style doesn’t appeal to you personally doesn’t mean that God isn’t actively involved in the process of convicting someone else through that particular song you dislike. Be patient. The song that speaks to your heart will come. This is, however, never an excuse to put your hands down, shut off your heart, and stop worshiping if a particular song isn’t your favorite. Sometimes worship is a bringing a sacrifice of praise. Sometimes worship requires you to lay down your personal preferences and surrender your heart to a holy, powerful, majestic God, for no other reason than the fact that He is God, and He is greatly to be praised.
You never really know the hearts and minds of the people you’re serving. You can only hope that if you listen intently to the Holy Spirit that He will guide, because ultimately, He knows their hearts.