Variety in Worship Music

Good conversation today with one of our members. She was suggesting that we should have more variety in music styles in our services to reach a wider range of people. I love it when people want to reach more people with the good news, so she was speaking my language.

Here are some of the realities we face when it comes to choosing what music to do each week. I'll just list them without a whole lot of explanation, but maybe it will help some people understand why we do what we do in the way we do it.

  • We have time for 3 to 5 worship songs per week. Flow of worship is important, and that's not a lot of songs to create good flow. You simply don't create flow by scrambling a bunch of stuff together just to try to make everybody happy.
  • What appeals to one person is a turn-off to another. The fact that we did one song that appealed to someone doesn't usually make them feel better about the rest of the songs that turned them off. You may want to read that statement again, because most people fail to get this. You really, absolutely, without a doubt can't please everybody or even most everybody all of the time or even some of the time. You can't do it by just by offering more styles. And you can't "should" people into just taking the stuff that they hate (traditional music or edgy or contemporary). People will choose what makes sense for them.
  • A worship services that has a variety of musical styles in it is a style of worship. And it's a style of worship some people like and a lot of people very much dislike. But here's the kicker: very few love it. A lot of people love traditional services. A lot love contemporary or edgier services. But very few actually love traditional/contemporary/edgy services.
  • What we do reaches a boatload of people. Some day I really hope we can offer a worship service that is quieter and more subdued, because it will widen our reach. (I also hope to offer a service that is much edgier for the same reason.) I think we'll do it as soon as we can open the CLC for worship (and that will be after we build a corresponding children's space). But for now, it doesn't make sense for us to take something that works so well and trade it for something that might or might not work so well. It's a matter of stewarding the windows of time and space that we have.
  • Offering different styles requires different sets of musical skills and musical leadership.
  • Planning one set for worship is a lot of work, involving a lot of staff time and volunteers. Offering another, very different set at this time would probably stretch us to the breaking point.
  • As you look at the church landscape of our area, very few churches are doing what we're doing as well as we're doing it. But lots of churches are doing the quieter, more subdued musical styles. If they preach Christ and seek to hold true to the Bible, we're on the same team, aren't we? We don't all have to be doing the same thing, do we?

Any comments?