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Why Your Congregation Isn’t Singing That Cool New Song

So you’ve heard a truly awesome song from Hillsong United or Charlie Peacock or you’ve stumbled on the latest song from Carlos Whittaker – now you want to play it Sunday in your lineup.  GREAT!  Who knows if the Spirit may reach someone in your congregation like it reached you…or is that the reason you want to play it?

Perhaps it has a cool back-beat, and awesome riff for guitar, a melodic line that fits your voice perfectly.  If that’s the case, we probably need to re-evaluate doing the song to begin with and this article isn’t for you to begin with.

If the reason is that you honestly feel that the song fits your community (your congregation) – then let’s press on.

Many worship leaders, as well-intentioned as they are, introduce songs to a congregation expecting that they will be as well received as they initially received the song.  They then get frustrated if the congregation doesn’t seem to respond.  Once that happens – the song gets dropped like a hot potato.

There’s a good reason they may not be singing.


Don’t assume that your congregation is as up on the latest worship music as you are.  They may not be at all familiar with the song or the artist so even the chorus and hook may be completely foreign to them.   Keep in mind that there is a good chance that you have been rocking this song on your computer/iPod/iPad/insert-your-favorite-device-here for days or weeks…and yet you expect the congregation to jump in feet first at one whack and know it.

How do you overcome that?  A great way to introduce the song may be to begin the song acoustic.  Give a little background about the subject matter…fit in a little scripture – a devotional…and then sing the chorus or hook.  After a couple of times, continue playing through the chord changes and encourage the congregation to sing with you as you read through the words (still displaying them on your media projections).  This re-emphasizes the words and also allows for better understanding of what is about to be sung.  Then, still in an acoustic setting, sing the chorus as a congregation.  Then, a simple segue way into the intro or verse – and you’re set.  It is now easier to remember and the congregation is more comfortable singing the song.

Take a look and listen to this video.  Recently, I introduced Hillsong’s “God Is Able” to my home church.  In a simple and subtle way, I “taught” them to be familiar with the chorus.  While the audio does not include the congregation’s singing on it…I can assure you they were strong when it came time to sing the first chorus during the song.

It gave the song a personal value to those hearing it the first time.  They could slow down and concentrate on the lyrics – and feel like they were a little more familiar with the hook when it came.

Now that we’ve introduced a song once, though…what do you do with it?  Here is a combination I want you to lock away and never forget when it comes to introducing new songs to the church :


When you first introduce a new song – play it for the first three weeks.  Get people familiar with it.  Then, give it a one week break.  After a week break – resurrect it the next week.  During the five week time-period, you should have a pretty good idea as to whether or not the song is a keeper or not.

What ideas have you had that have worked when introducing new songs?  We’d love to hear your thoughts below in our comments/discussion section!