New Music Should Be Embraced Because It Is Biblical
Scripture tells us to sing a new song to the Lord. Nowhere are we told to sing an old song. This is not to say that old music should not be a part of worship. We must, however, embrace new music because God is pleased in it. When we sing new music, our hearts and minds take on a new and fresh perspective. We should not be hesitant. The fact is that we are comfortable with familiarity. There is nothing wrong with this unless we are hesitant to embrace that which is new. We should certainly embrace the new because it is biblical.
Don't Underestimate Your Congregation's Knowledge of New Music
Many times worship leaders are hesitant to introduce new music because they are afraid their congregation will not accept it. With the vastness of the worship music industry, however, our congregations are becoming increasingly more familiar with new music. We should not take that for granted. This means that we are able to introduce new music with our congregation already being more familiar with it than we might expect. We should not underestimate their knowledge of new music.
One of the pitfalls of the contemporary worship music industry is over-complication of the music. There are many good bands and artists who are now a part of the worship music industry, which means that our churches are influenced by them. Often, however, the great skill of an artist is not easily translated to the church platform. As worship leaders, it is not our job to reveal how talented we are. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using our gifts and abilities for the Lord in the best manner we can, and there are times (when done appropriately) that we certainly can and should create complex musical art. This is not the fundamental purpose of a worship leader though. We are there to lead our congregation in worship, which often requires simplifying. Congregations do not relate to great complexities. This means that although we should sing and play in the most skillful manner possible, our skill should be modified to a simplified manner. I prefer to use the term, "congregational friendly." We should be as congregational friendly as possible, particularly when it comes to introducing new music. Our congregation is already at a disadvantage when learning new music, but over-complicating things makes it worse and often causes our church members to disconnect. It can easily become a distraction to worship rather than an enhancement. We must simplify.
Everyone in Worship Leadership Must Be Familiar with New Music
I cannot state enough how important it is that the members of the worship leadership team be more familiar with the music than anyone else in the church. The congregation feeds off of the energy from worship leadership. If leadership is not familiar with the new music through and through, it certainly affects the congregation in a negative manner.
Utilize Technological Resources
One of the great tools we have at our disposal is technology. Thanks to social media, we can now prepare our churches for upcoming corporate worship. It is becoming more common for worship leaders to post new music via social media so that the church members become somewhat familiar with it ahead of time. This helps greatly. Utilize the tools you have access to.
Incorporate New Music Enough that It Becomes Familiar to the Congregation
Worship services are not movies. Just because a song is done once does not mean you cannot do it again. We should do new music enough that it becomes familiar to the congregation. This does not mean doing it every week until people are tired of it, but it should at least be done enough that people can draw from a standard list of songs done at that particular church.
Adapt the Style to Your Worship Ministry's Ability and Resources
You do not have to sound exactly like the recording. This is crucial to remember as worship leaders. Many people make feeble attempts at sounding exactly like the original artist who does the song when what we should be doing is adapting our sound to fit our resources and personnel. Most worship teams are not even able to sound exactly like the original artist. That, in fact, takes great talent and ability that sadly does not exist in most churches. However, this should not be an excuse to play in an unskilled manner for we are indeed called to be skillful in what we do. Therefore, we must adapt to our needs. Perhaps this means the lead guitar riff is excluded, the drum fill is not as flashy, the vocals do not go as high, or we even do the song in a different key. Whatever the case, we must adapt to our own needs. We are not MercyMe or Chris Tomlin. We are local worship leaders seeking to lead God's local congregation in worship. Keep this in mind when introducing new music, and be as skillful as possible.
We should not be steered away from introducing new music in our churches. New music is integral. However, we might have to modify the way in which we do it. These items I have presented are what I find to be the most important to keep in mind when introducing new music. Although adaptation is necessary, we must never sacrifice quality and skill. In fact, these thoughts I have mentioned lead to introducing new music in a productive and skillful manner. We are called to sing a new song to the Lord. Let us do it as best as we possibly can.