Recently I spent half a day with a fellow worship leader going through all the church songs in our folders.
It is helpful having a list of ‘go to’ songs when selecting which songs to play in church. However when that list gets way too long after a few years, it is helpful to go through it and review. Even though we love some of the songs, if we haven’t done them in years, should they still be on the ‘go to’ list? I would say no.
This is how we went through the songs, sorting them into the following categories:
New Songs To Introduce Songs
These are a list of songs that are still new to our church, or songs then we aim to introduce in the near future. The idea here is to select between one and two songs from this list every week to help the church get to know them. However this section will need updating regularly so that some songs don’t get over done!
Songs To Keep
These songs make up the rest of our ‘go to’ master song list. We try to keep a range of themes as well as a scope of songs that span over the years. We want to keep songs that connect and songs that work. It doesn’t matter their age or how long ago they were written. Some of the old songs are the best, however try not to let nostalgia take over otherwise you will keep everything.
Songs to Retire
These are songs that we like or even love – but we haven’t sung them in a long time! The idea here is that these songs will not be listed on our master song list, however if the Holy Spirit leads us, or the theme of the sermon brings to mind a song we have retired, we can do it again on that occasion. Removing these songs makes space for others to enter our song rotation.
Songs to Kill
This section is the smallest, however it is important to recognize when a song is simply not working or engaging your congregation (even if it is really popular elsewhere). Quite often a song moves from the New Song Column into this one when we discover it just doesn’t work in our context. It is also important to communicate decisions such as these to others who lead worship and select songs so that they know not to choose them in the future.
Once the lists are compiled, circulate it amongst those who choose songs in your church. Hopefully they were involved in the decision making process initially so that there won’t be too many surprises!
Look to review this process say every 6 months or so, this way it should take less time as only a few songs need to be moved around the different categories and you keep on top of your church’s master song list.