Friday, September 28, 2007


Ok, so I got a question in a blog comment yesterday, and it's actually a question I've gotten several times at conferences and such as well, so I thought it kinda typified blogworthiness. I'm all about the non-words these days, aren't I?

So the question was basically how much do I do my own songs in church--and then how often do I use songs in general... SO... I thought I'd answer that question for any and all who are also curious but also unveil my typical, though inconsistent, strategic, though not always thought through, barely formulaic formulas for worship planning. We all have those, right?

First of all, I share on one condition: if you lead worship or plan worship services and you're reading this, you share, too... in fact, I hope you feel some amount of guilt if you're deciding to read on without any intention of sharing, 'cause that's not part of the deal...

Ok, so I'll start with the two-part question... I usually am pretty intentional about avoiding using more than one of my originals in any given service. I also will frequently have full services without any of my songs--I gots no problems with dat. As for how often I'll use any given song, I think we run about a 10 week rotation in our tunes. Now, we only do 3-4 songs at the beginning of services, and one at the end. The ending tune is usually pulled from the up-tempo portion of a services 2-3 weeks prior, so that tightens the rotation on the fast tunes a bit. Slow tunes really get a long rotation, 'cause we don't do as many in the service. I've been known to go several months without doing a slow tune that is considered in 'regular' rotation. I don't love that, but some tunes just resonate too well to cut, you know? (I'm not talking about mine) :)

When I introduce a brand new tune, I usually try to end the service with it as well, just to really make sure it gets in the ears of the congregation, and then I'll get it back in the rotation sooner, in 4-6 weeks or so... I know some people really hammer new tunes so that the congregation learns them quickly, but I really put the burden on the song selection being incredible congregational. I'm ridiculous about the songs I pick, and I'm just as hard on my own tunes as I am on anyone else's... if they're not really singable, we just plain usually don't do them. Part of that is 'cause we have so many first time visitors every week at our church, too. I want people to be able to sing along in the worship set regardless of whether or not they've heard the songs before.

As for the tunes on Every Reason Why... well, I'll just say that every song on the record has been sung at our church multiple times, including 'Foundations,' which is not a congregational worship tune, but was written for a message of the same title. Not all of the songs are in a current rotation, if you will, but maybe I'll expand on that in another post... this one has become... long.


Chris said...

I have a yearly personal goal of writing enough songs that TWO of them make it into our church repertoire each year. I've also set a goal for our congregation as a whole to write enough songs that FOUR of them make it into our church repertoire next year.

How often? If it's a song in regular rotation, I generally won't use a song for 6-8 weeks UNLESS the content of the service is crying out for a particular song or lyrical theme or whatever.

New songs - play it before the service as people are coming in, teach it during the service and then we'll include it two more times in the following four Sundays.

Happi said...

Mark, I just wanted to tell you that I am leading worship for a Beth Moore study that we're doing on monday nights at our church. At the fall kick-off, I introduced "You Are" and explained that it would be our theme song for the year. So when the Beth Moore study started, I brought it back to the ladies and several have come to me asking me where that song comes from. I keep directing them to your website. I have three of the songs on my ipod that I walk to every day. They minister to me so much. That's all I have to share for today!