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Song Selection… too “singy-songy?”

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(Article by “got worship?” contributor Tanner Dalton)

Recently I found myself in a conversation with the youth pastor I work alongside with when he brought up the hot topic of song selection for our predominantly middle school youth group. In the past, we have attempted to cater to our students with music of the "catchy" singy-songy type if you will. We began to question the responsibility of this practice. Hey, don’t get me wrong, I admit I had been choosing the songs according to what I felt would bring the most energy to the service, however I absolutely agree with this point:

Why do we limit our expectations of what twelve and thirteen year olds can grasp?

What constitutes an effective youth worship song?

I believe each one of these has its place in song selection, but the first step should be to remove ourselves from the process. Prayer is essential before the song selection process begins each week. My experience, skill, and desires are the most harmful elements to the song selecting process. Once we say "so long self," then God can do His work. From that point, I begin laying out the workspace.

1) Working With Your Teammates: What are the driving points of the message the speaker or minister will focus on? What music is on his or her heart? How can you as a lead worshipper lead in a way that prepares the hearts of the students to be open to that message?

2) Translate Your Passion: As worship leaders, God moves our hearts through music in an empowering way. By digesting the word on a daily basis and translating the passion that burns in our hearts, we are equipping ourselves to break down walls in the students’ lives.

3) It’s Not a Rock Concert: Yes, the students do scream and shout. Yes, you do look cool with your new guitar. No, there is nothing in your teeth. It is so easy as youth worship leaders to get caught up in the glitz and glamour; It’s so easy in fact, that we leave our calling backstage. Often we see this attitude manifesting itself in songs that make us or our band sound best so students are often caught up in the entertainment instead of being captivated by the presence of God.

Now, go and lead some awesome worship.