Worship leaders are always asked "There are SO many worship songs out there. How do you pick the ones you sing at church?" Some songs like "Amazed" by Jared Anderson just knocked me over. Some songs like "Counting on God", I hated the 1st time I heard it. Then I heard a different version and I could not get it out of my head and I fell in love with it! Most of the time, however, there are some KEY things that I look for in a song...remember, this is MY process :) not THE process!
- Does this song have a beautiful marriage of music and lyrics? As a songwriter, I strive for this in my writing and I expect the same from all worship songs. If one thing is great and the other isn't, we don't sing it. Obviously, this is VERY subjective, but I can't lead others in worship with a song that I personally struggle with one or the other being deficient.
- Is the song confusing? Some worship songwriters have chosen to write about certain things in Scripture that I find confusing. If I feel the need to explain the song, I probably will move on.
- How does this song make me feel toward God? Ok, this may be a little weird for some of you, but I want songs that encourage people to move toward God with great passion and speed. For example, "You are God" by Charlie Hall is in our rotation right now. There is a line that says," You fight for us, You make us brave." I CANNOT sing that line without a smile on my face! I feel that my God WILL do that for me when I sing that line! That helps me face Monday, so I know it will help my congregation as well.
- Does this song teach Biblical truths that I can easily understand? I learned from a wonderful mentor that I have a responsibilty as a worship leader to teach Biblical truth through song choices. I am reinforcing my Pastor's heart and his desire for our people to understand the Word of God when I choose songs that teach even the most basic of truths in the Christian life...prayer, obedience, holiness, Christ our Redeemer...the list goes on, but you get it.
- Is this song timeless? This is a hard question. Not all songs that I do can pass this test, but I would say 90 percent do pass. In the past few years, we have seen a resurgence of hymns in our worship sets because they are timeless. I'm on a Charlie Hall kick right now and his song "Center" is one that I have ben doing ever since he wrote it. He does a great job of making this song timeless by combining it with "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus", but even without that, the words and the music he chose are timeless.
- Does this song celebrate the attributes of a Holy God and/or His Redemption of Mankind? I cut my teeth as a young worship leader on the teachings of the late Robert Webber. I remember him encouraging worship leaders that it was our responsibility every week to celebrate these things in our weekly worship.
- The Holy Spirit factor - this is just a sense in my spirit that "He" wants me to do this song.
I am going to spend some time over the next few weeks here at cheval glass sharing songs that I feel very strongly pass these tests. I take choosing worship songs SO seriously. I have 4-5 songs per week... that's all I've got. I am shaping the worship experience for my congregation through my song choices. I am influencing their view of God. No time for games with this one.