Originally published by WorshipLeader on December 4, 2013
Throughout the year I keep a log of the songs we're using at my church, tracking their frequency of use and the trend of how often or little we use them. I break them down into categories to help me track them; I find this is helpful in planning worship for our main congregation, as it reminds me what songs are most familiar to our church, and which ones are not.
Songs that I grew up in the faith with may be readily familiar to my close friends in the faith, but they may not be as familiar to the majority of folks participating at my church, and that can be an obstacle preventing them from engaging God in intimate, meaningful worship. The roster helps me keep perspective and plan over the long term.
I'm sharing this roster here for you in hopes it may help you in your planning for the ministries you give oversight for... even if my particular list doesn't assist you, perhaps the type of organization itself may be applicable and helpful.
It’s similar to a “Bin System” of song organization, which I used when I was working at a radio station in my college years, but expanded to reflect the wider variety of songs that need to be incorporated in a typical church with blended worship.
The categories are broken down like this:
Newer Songs - ones that have been recently introduced and are growing in familiarity. I will only include one brand new song, and try to limit how many of these in general per weekend set. We do want to have these songs in high rotation in order to teach them and foster familiarity, so a newer song will be used 2-3 weekends in a row, given a rest for a week or two, then brought back for another few weeks.
Staple Songs - ones that have been in rotation for several months to several years, well known to the majority of our church. These make up the bulk of the worship song set each week.
Classics & Hymns - ones that have stood the test of time which can be measured in decades. Some "contemporary" praise songs from the 70's, 80's and 90's now fall into this category, as do all hymns and traditional songs. I try to include at least one of these each week, sometimes more. For the first quarter of 2013, we were at a 3:2 ratio of hymns to contemporary songs in the main church, so it varies depending on the season of the church, the scripture & biblical themes being taught - I always attempt to line up the music with the teaching.
To Introduce - ones that I keep in consideration to bring into main worship. A song can sit on this list for weeks to months as I contemplate whether it's really a good song for the church or if it's just a song I like personally. The rubric is: biblically accurate, theologically true & doctrinally correct, easy for the church to sing, learn & memorize.
On The Bench - ones done infrequently. Probably on the way out from being in main rotation, but we're not quite done with them yet.
Retired - ones that have fallen out of rotation. Doesn't necessarily mean there's anything particularly wrong with them, but they need a rest, or they just haven't been used in at least 2 years. Sometimes songs come back out of retirement. Sometimes there are just too many better choices to go back to these, which had their season.
Sometimes there are very good reasons not to do a song, such as when the writer turns out to be a non-believer, a flaming heretic or a fleecer of the flock. We won't do any of their songs anymore because anyone who knows who they were written by would be stumbled by us using their music. I'm personally stumbled by knowing this info, so I would not use their songs as a leader because it would distract me, no matter how good the song is.
In the words of the aged saint from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, “Choose wisely!”
Blessings to you!