“What if it crash lands the worship?”, “what if they hate it?”, “what if they don’t sing along?”, “what if…” are only some of the inner questions that we struggle with, right?
Trust me, introducing a song before it’s fully ready is quite the heartbreaking mistake!
Developing a very thick skin to withstand the holes that others could poke into our works of art is essential for any creative artist.
That apart, here are some effective measures to get our songs ‘public worship’ ready before introducing them on stage.
5 Surefire steps to safely introduce your own worship songs
Step 1: Be sure of the song’s purpose
Is the song a secret prayer to the Lord? Is it meant to be sung in public at all? I mean, not all worship songs are strictly public church songs, right?
If it’s not meant for a congregation and it’s written solely to express your heart personally to the Lord, the song has already achieved its purpose.
Step 2: The personal test
If you’re sure the song is meant for congregational worship, create a rough recording of it. Hook a mic to your PC and record it with a piano or acoustic guitar. If that’s too complex for you, use any voice recording app on your smartphone.
Listen to the mock recording yourself. No matter how good you think the song is, hearing a recording of it always helps to notice flaws and tweaks that we otherwise tend to miss.
Now, give it a break and listen to it again on a weekly or fortnightly basis. Do this 3 or 4 times and make those adjustments that you identify.
If you still like the song, you’re ready for the next step. Else, go back to the drawing board, and rewrite and/or re-compose!
Step 3: The peer group test
Play your song to a trusted group of friends who understand your art—people who are worship leaders, songwriters or musicians themselves and ask for their honest feedback. Oh and be sure to put on the armor of thick skin before you ask them!
Listen to their views impassively—while you don’t have to agree with everything they say—listen carefully—you will get useful points of improvement.
Also, pay attention to a suggestion, especially if it comes from more than one person.
Make changes to your song if required and repeat steps 2 and 3 until there is some kind of a consensus that the song is a good one.
Step 4: The non-musician test
By now, you should have sorted out any musical and technical flaws at least, which is great but still not enough.
It’s also important to estimate what someone in the congregation would think of your song. So play it for a non-musician friend to get what I call “qualitative” feedback—you know, things like “It doesn’t speak to my heart” or “I don’t get it, what’s it about again?” and so on.
If the song makes a positive impression on the non-musician, you’re on to something!
Else, the song is probably still not ready and needs more work.
Step 5: Playing it in public worship
Now it’s time to include your song in your next worship set-list and see how it goes in the real world of congregational worship.
If you’ve followed the previous 4 steps diligently, your song should work out well with your congregation. You would also be a lot more convinced about the song yourself and be confident of playing it live.
Make sure you teach the new song at the top of the worship set. Here are Paul Baloche‘s tips on introducing a new song effectively:
Also, reprise it at the end of the meeting/service, use it again in the next few weeks and then gauge its effectiveness in church worship.
All of the above steps are useful to get your song truly ready, if you’re planning to record a proper demo of your song too. Otherwise you might end up burning the song and your money!
If you’re an independent artist, a song that’s come through these steps would be a great choice for your next recording project. If you hold a recording contract, then your publisher would also be happier with songs that have been tested and found effective.
As a songwriter, don’t rush this process and kill your song—patience always leads to better songs!
Hope you found these tips useful. How have you introduced yours songs to your congregation? Why not share your top tips in the comments?