One of your favorite bands just came out with a new worship song that really spoke to you. You think to yourself, "I bet this song would really resonate with my church".
You transpose chord charts, memorize the lyrics, and finally schedule the new worship song in one of your services. All your diligent worship planning has led to the first rehearsal, and it sounds AMAZING!
You wake Sunday super pumped to play the new worship song.
After singing the first few lines, you quickly realize that nobody is into it. Few congregants are worshiping, with many of your church people staring off into space. What you thought was going to be a service favorite has quickly turned into the movie equivalent of The Phantom Menace (rated #1 worst movie sequel of all time).
You walk off stage, listen to the pastor preach, finish up the service, and go home to binge-watch episodes of Friends to help you cope.
You are not alone. Every worship leader has been there. We have all introduced new worship songs in a service, only to have them fail in the congregation.
Here are the top 5 reasons why new worship songs fail in a worship service, and how to [hopefully] avoid them.
Reason 1: No introduction
When we're introducing new songs to our congregation, it's good to give them a little bit of a heads up. Springing something completely new on people without introducing it can cause even our most involved worshipers to be thrown off in the service. Find a good way to segway into introducing the song. Scripture is always one of the best ways to do this. Telling a brief story can be good too. Anything is better than just simply saying "hey this is a new song."
Reason 2: It was played first
In most cases, playing a new worship song as our first song will be doomed to failure.
Why? 2 Reasons...
People often need to get eased into worship. By playing a couple well-known worship songs first, we get our congregation actively involved and "warmed up" so to speak. It's much easier to get people singing a new worship song if they have already sung a few others beforehand.
We typically still have people still shuffling around during the first minute or so of the worship service. By waiting until later in the service to introduce the song, we ensure everyone is there and ready.
Reason 3: The lyrics were wrong
One of the most common things that cause people not to sing in church is not knowing the lyrics to sing. If you're using a projector for lyrics, make sure the person running them is familiar with the new worship song. If they keep displaying the lyrics late (or just plain wrong), you will just confuse people with what you're singing and what they're seeing. The lyric person needs to be just as familiar with the song as us.
PRO TIP: The best way to avoid having the wrong song with the same song title is to verify the CCLI number of a worship song. This ensures that the version of Jesus Paid It All you are singing is indeed the version they are displaying.
Reason 4: The wrong person leading
Some worship songs require a certain person to lead them. I was playing electric at a college worship rally once and we had an airy soprano lead "Like A Lion". Despite her being a classically trained professional with a killer voice...this was one of the worst worship songs to have her sing. A song that was meant to be in "IN YOUR FACE" with grit just sounded like one of Disney's latest hits off of a princess movie. I vividly remember looking at her during the bridge and she telepathically spoke to me saying "Why did they pick this song for me!"
Moral of the story: Sometimes certain songs require a specific leader and singer.
Reason 5: The key is too high/too low
There are many worship songs that are too high or low in the original key. I'm not saying that you should just lower the keys across the board...but we need to be cognizant of how much we push our congregation vocally. Just because you as a leader can sing every Rend Collective song without modification doesn't mean you should. Likewise...not everyone can sing like Kari Jobe.
Whether the song is female or male-led, everyone needs to be involved. Pick a congregational key that's accessible by men and women.
Avoiding these 5 reasons will help you as you introduce new songs to your congregation. At the end of the day, the best way we as worship leaders can avoid having new worship songs fail is to have ourselves and our team be ready and prepared. One of the best ways to do this is to plan our worship services well in advance.
One of our favorite features for planning worship is Side-By-Side. SBS gives you the ability to view multiple services at once, add/move songs and elements, and schedule all of your people. Watch our video about Side-By-Side HERE.