How do you pick songs for the Sunday morning?
Above all others – this question gets asked the most when I go out to speak. Sometimes a follow up question to the first one is – Do you base all the songs on the theme of the sermon? While these are genuine questions posed by well-meaning worship planners, I think the existence of these questions point to a greater issue in our worship.
The issue at stake is how music is perceived as part of the overall worship. Whether it is stated overtly or merely demonstrated subversively, the belief that the music portion of the service is the warm-up act to the sermon creates a false expectation of how the music should function in our corporate worship. And this belief is built on the notion that the sermon is the most important aspect of our corporate worship. (I will challenge this in another post)
The psychological warm-up act is a poor premise to use music in our worship. A better system is to understand music from the power it has to reinforce our beliefs, its ability to unite us in better understanding God, and to transcend a singular way of knowing by engaging our heads, hearts and body. When planning the music/singing portion of our worship we need to consider how the music communicates God’s great story of grace. We need to take into consideration which movement of the service we are in to help us determine what type of songs would be important. It is better to lead people into a place where they are able to hear from the Word rather than simply tailor our songs to mimic what will be said in the sermon. (That often feels like overt manipulation.)