Worship leaders tend to gather like a pack of middle school girls roaming the mall. Walk into any coffee shop and you’ll spot a small herd of bearded hipsters flaunting a modified Elvis haircut. Sometimes, you just want to take a picture.
Every so often, I find myself smack dab in the middle of these clusters of coolness. I don’t really belong, so I observe their behavior from the outside – like a sociologist studies culture.
As I listen to the banter, I become aware of a strange eight bar loop in the rhythm of their conversation. Phrases like “click-track,” “pedal board” and “planning center” are trapped on repeat and fill their exchange like notes on a page. It’s like a chorus that repeats over and over. Eventually, a critical question crescendos from someone in the group:
“So, what songs are you guys do’n these days?”
Repeat the previous eight bar loop.
That’s when I thought, if you ask the wrong question, you’ll inevitably get an answer that isn’t helpful. Churches across the country have platforms filled with music and pews flooded with silence. In epidemic proportions, corporate worship has lost her participatory edge.
Discovering what other churches are singing is really no discovery at all. It just perpetuates the problem.
Instead, we need to know the songs that are working. What if worship leaders across the nation changed the question. What if we mined out the tunes that really engage people in the worship experience; songs that resonated with how God is moving in our pews and throughout our community.
And what if we discovered that what works is the very thing we ourselves don’t like? Can leadership trump our creative values?
What if we swapped the question and asked, “What songs are your people actually singing these days?” or “What songs are actually engaging your faith community?”
Then, repeat the previous eight bar loop.