Pieces of The Puzzle

Let’s open some dialogue with worship leaders here today. I was having some face time with our worship intern Kenneth today and we were discussing (to an extent) how to pick worship music and plan upcoming songs that match the theme of a particular series. At Cornerstone we are very careful to include different styles of worship music so all of the diversity within our church can enjoy, and engage in worship with us on Sundays. The added benefit of this is that cultures never having heard one style or another are exposed to different genres and find, they actually enjoy a wider range of worship songs than they would have thought. Music is a powerful influence within a church body, able to become glue that draws people ever closer to each other and to closer to God. It can also be a repellant, chasing one group or another away. You cannot enjoy a racially diverse church body by playing Kutless all the time while leaving Tye Tribbett out. Vice~Versa, you don’t want to be playing Kirk Franklin to a group that looks more suited to jamming with Hawk Nelson. What you want to do is meet in the middle. Not vanilla, but maybe vanilla with chocolate syrup, and whipped cream. With pecans. And crushed Oreo. The point is, you can’t go too far left, or too far right. You must make the music accessible to all, and then you must make the music excellent. By doing these things you will enjoy watching your church body grow to heights, and depths, that you didn’t know were there. A church body that worships together is a force to be reckoned with.

All of that being said, what styles of music do you and your church use? How or do you include the rest of your worship team in picking the music? How far out do you plan in advance? Do you plan by a team, or do you plan alone?

Engage in the convo! Let’s take everyone’s game up a notch!

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12 thoughts on “Pieces of The Puzzle

  1. Chris, how do you find new music? Do you find that it’s helpful to just ask ppl around you what they are listening to or do you find that you are introducing new things to them?

    • Will, I do a little of both, but just because I ask members of our body, or worship team, they all know that I might not use their suggestions. I actually go out in the body before services and talk, meet, greet, mix it up with whoever will talk to me. Then I will listen to i-Tunes snippets of whatever suggestions I get and then buy whatever songs really jump at me… sometimes it’s a whole album. After that I usually surf related artists and check them out good. We always plan well ahead, so we can use any new music we will be doing on a pre-service CD and by the time we actually do the song, the body knows it! With us, it’s a combo of using suggestions and introducing new stuff to the body. New stuff I am excited about right now is on Mary Alessi’s new album “Pressing On”… Open Heaven, I Surrender All, and All of The Doors, Also REALLY wanna do “O, The Blood” by Gateway…

  2. Chris, what if there is only one group of people at a particular church and only one other culture (one family)? Do you think it’s fair to cater to that one family’s likes in music sometimes or cater only to the body, which is of one culture?

    • That’s a good question. In the end it all comes down to what the church is doing in the community, and what the church leadership decides. But my .02? Yes. Definitely. Ask that one family what their opinion is. If that happens, who is to say if that one family won’t grow to two, then 4, then 8? This will also enable the body in the church to experience new music that they may not even know exists. It’s necessary to cast the vision, that one culture is not swelling in numbers to “take over”, but rather to make the church body stronger, diverse. Cast out all fear in these situations. Fear is poison, and devisive. We always use different music styles in the same service, so it’s not a question of “catering” to one or the other. It’s “representing” all!

  3. do you think picking songs that fit the theme is the best way to do worship design? I think song selection matters, as well as styles used, but I guess I push back against the idea that sermon themes should be the governing ideas that shape song selection. Maybe I’m reading too much into the opening statements of this post…

    Let me rephrase this into a question: what are the larger ideas (outside of style) that affect and guide your song selection week to week?

    • Drew, We use a thematic approach, but only as a guide. Nothing is set in stone, only in clay. We typically try to keep the response song mainly as close to the teaching theme as possible, but if a particular Sunday is about “passion” we try to plan around songs that point to that specifically (which is what I was talking with our intern about). We are lucky in that our Pastors don’t micro-manage, but they do make suggestions. The largest influence on what we do comes from prayer. As I look at my journal, I see just how much prayer time is spent on praying that God would provide the song. Other influences include the singers we have that day, musician rotations, etc. Worship is worship, regardless of theme, although we do look at teaching themes and try to work closely with our Pastors. Doesn’t always work. We might even change a song on Sunday morning just because the spirit moves, and we DO rely on confirmation in those times…

  4. Cater was definitely the wrong word to use in that question. Represent is a much better word to represent what I was trying to ask:)Thanks for that great switcheroo:)

    I don’t think it should ever be one culture or another that should “take over” in a worship situation. God should always be the deciding factor. But I think in a lot of situations not only fear but also pride can take a front seat in the decision making. Unwilling to listen or take advice from others can sometimes block a greater movement. Mixing music genres is exciting and helps break up the monotony of hearing only one kind of music all the time. Exciting, not just because of different cultures being “satisfied”, but also for different music experiences. I agree that it makes the body stronger but also more willing to participate during worship. But saying it and doing it are two completely different things. When your hands are tied, prayer is the key. Praying…

    Thanks so much for your response. Great wisdom:)

  5. We do a yearly survey and part of the survey is seeing what people are listening too and then we try to reflect that with the songs we do. We end up doing more of rock flavor with some country mixed in from time to time.

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