Taking the Worship Pulse

I mentioned on Sunday that we were looking at revamping our song catalogue. Let me give you a brief overview of where we stand now:

  • We had way to many songs on the list (over 130!!) and we had introduced over thirty new tunes over a year and a half.
  • We decided in December that we were going to cut back our "active" song list to just fifty songs. We wanted both the congregation and the team to get more familiar with the music we were doing.
  • We set a moratorium on new music for the first six months of 2009.

This worked our better than I had thought. (A was somewhat resistant to the concept before we started, but agreed to try it.) I began to notice that the congregation had their heads less on reading the screen and more into worshipping. I also noticed the team had their heads less focused on the music stands. And that we weren't doing the Spontaneous Song Shuffle to look for charts for the song the pastor asked for at the last minute, or the one to perfectly match the word that was just given, because we knew the song already.

Our "restrictions" were not absolute, either. There was no restriction on songs used for offerings or altar calls, and certain special events. But you get the gist.

Six months have passed, and it's time to evaluate where we are. We're doing this two ways. First off, we handed out a survey to our congregation. We asked questions like:

  • What songs that we sing in church really engage you?
  • How do you you worship personally?
  • How often do you listen to Christian/Gospel music personally?( a lot/a little/never)
  • Who is your favorite Christian artist?
  • What style of worship music do you prefer? (Softer, acoustic or piano-based /electric guitar-driven rock/gospel/hymns)
  • What song would you like to see added?
  • Do you prefer more comfortable, familiar songs or new, fresh songs?

There were other questions, but you understand where we're going. We're giving it a couple of weeks. We've got some early results in, but we're waiting for a pretty good sample. (I can tell from business experience, people who fill out surveys early are complainers. You have to push people who are content.)

The second thing we did is to survey the team, including the media tech people:

  • Name 2 songs that you would remove from the list
  • Name one song we used to do that didn't make the list that you would add
  • Name one brand new song you would like added to the list
  • Name one hymn that you would add

Our current goal is to keep the list the same size, at least for now. Some songs will go by attrition - there are songs that even on a small list, we have rarely done. Some will be harder to cull out, but we're all looking forward to some fresh music. Already we've begun rehearsing one new, high energy song, and we're looking at a couple of others. I'll keep you updated.


  1. I'm glad this has worked well for you. Personally I'd prefer a larger list of around 150 songs. I may have mentioned before that for our worship team I did a shortened list of 100 songs (from 400+) that we restricted the team to for a while with similar results to yours. It was also a good opportunity to drop most of the 'ME!' songs. But after a few months it *felt* a bit too restrictive and I was glad to break out of it. By updating your list hopefully you will avoid that somewhat.

    As for the music stand thing, I almost never use music. In the new church (where I'm not at all involved in the worship team) they use the music stands as a shield to hide from the congregation (seriously, I kid not).


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