Shelly Johnson

Let the People Sing!

Shelly Johnson on struggling with your set list:

It’s the age-old question that perhaps every worship pastor and worship leader wrestles with at some point in their ministry. A question with no clear-cut answer, no formulaic solution. It’s up for debate and strong arguments could be made on all sides.

Actually, it’s not just one question. It’s several questions:

How often should we introduce new songs to our congregation?

What should those new songs be?

How do we know which songs are connecting and which ones aren’t?

How do we know when a song is becoming “burnt-out” to the point it’s time to give it a rest?

How often should we repeat or rotate songs from week to week?

The list goes on. I know I’m not the only worship leader who wrestles with this. In fact, I wrestle with it so much that I’ve analyzed it to death. I’ve built spreadsheets and tables and charts listing every song we’ve used every week, kept a tally of how many new songs we introduced this past year, and how often each song was used in services throughout the year. What can I say? There is an inner nerd in me who loves details and data and information and finding ways to use all that wonderful research to improve what we do and how we do it.

On any given Sunday, our church will host approximately 6,000+ worshippers at our three north-Atlanta area campuses. That’s a huge responsibility, but the fact of the matter is, whether it’s thousands, hundreds or tens of people gathered, this is a responsibility that should never be taken lightly. And that is why I am driven to ask such questions.

Our worship staff has had many meetings, conversations and group discussions about this whole “song usage dilemma”, and while there is no clearly defined answer to any of the questions listed above, I have come to my own personal conclusion:

Let the people sing.

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