I can always tell when I’m holding a document in my hand if it’s a copy of a copy or if it’s an original. A copy of a copy has a worn-out, old, slightly fuzzy look to it – kind of like the worksheets you get in middle school that you’re sure your teacher has used for the last 45 years. An original is crisp and up-to-date – like the first page you print after you’ve installed a brand new printer.
After three or four times, a copy of a copy starts to show its age. If quality is a concern, it’s worth taking the time to make up an original again. But if quality isn’t a concern, it’s certainly a whole lot easier just to use the same thing you’ve always been using.
I think the same principle applies to the songs we choose for a service. A copy of a copy will result in loss of quality, however subtle, every single time. Taking time to make each service’s song list “original” helps keep you and the services from getting stale.
A few practical ideas:
Don’t always use the same song in the same spot
It’s hard not to fall back on using the same song that worked last time. Stretch yourself and do something different.
Don’t always use the same kinds of songs written by the same kinds of authors
Try to choose songs that don’t all sound the same, aren’t in the same key, aren’t written by the same person, weren’t written in the same decade, and don’t say the same thing.
When I introduced Tim Hughes’ “Happy Day” a few months ago, I knew that it would either really connect or really bomb. Thankfully, it really connected with people and it’s been a helpful song for people to celebrate that Jesus is alive. But even if it hadn’t connected with people, it would still have been a good idea for me to try it. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
Visit other churches/watch their services online
Make a point of visiting other churches from time to time, and watching other churches’ services online. You’ll get ideas from seeing things they do that really work – and learn from seeing things they do that don’t seem to work.
Prioritize personal times of bible study and singing
If you’re spiritually malnourished, you’re not in the best position to be feeding sheep by leading them in worship. But if you’re being fed by God’s Word and singing to him when no one else is watching, your planning, preparation, and leading will be fresh and heartfelt.