One of the neat things that Planning Center (the web service we use to schedule and plan our gatherings) can do is track the number of times a certain song has been used in a gathering over a certain period, as well as documenting the most recent instance that a song was played. This can be vital in the planning process, as it allows Aaron and I to compose set lists that address the theme of a particular gathering, while ensuring that any given song is not over/underutilized.
Like many practical aspects of leading worship, there really is no perfect number for how many times a certain song should be played, and way that this process is framed within our own hearts and minds is crucial, even when it feels like splitting hairs. In this case, the reason behind varying the song selection from week to week can be used for ends that vary in positivity:
We try to vary our set because:
- Playing a variety of songs, each of which express a different narratives and perspectives even on similar themes, shows that God is active and present through all of our stories, in every season and circumstance.
- We believe that there is something equally special in singing songs that have been sung since the early church (read: hymns) and singing songs that have been written or arranged recently. We believe that the purpose of expressing truth through song has remained constant throughout history, positioning us to sing for the same reason that Moses, David, and the Apostles sang: to communicate and celebrate the truth of God, in songs both old and new.
We don't vary our set because we want to:
- Cater to our consumer-based need for variance and novelty in an entertainment sense
- Keep up with trends within the church community at large, whether the trend is toward new songs or hymns
As with any practice, we are in a constant struggle to keep our actions and motives in check when it comes to picking or introducing songs. We want to pick the right songs AND pick them for the right reasons, but it's a weekly effort that involves intentionality and discernment. Hopefully, the songs we sing from week to week are a direct reflection of the "heartbeat" of our church, allowing us to celebrate Jesus as the most excellent King of our past, present, and future.
This week, we compiled a chart that orders the songs we've sung over the last year in order of "number of times played." Can you guess which songs we played the most?
Here are three hints:
- The most played song was played 7 times
- The second most played song was played 6 times
- Two songs are tied at 5 times each
What songs are indicative of your church's heartbeat in the Spring/Summer of 2015? What songs do you wish your church played more often? Let us know!