Do You Take Requests?

Tonight is the monthly men’s ministry gathering at my church, when about 100 or so guys get together for some food, a time of corporate worship, teaching, and prayer. I usually lead about 20 minutes of singing at the beginning of the meeting, and try to pick songs that men from the various different services will know, or learn easily.

This happens to be a very busy week, with a bishop visiting this weekend for baptisms and confirmations, Palm Sunday the following weekend, then Easter, then Student Sunday, then a big conference in mid-April, and then finally a little break in about five weeks. I’m happy to lead a few songs tonight, but don’t have an awful lot of time to devote to choosing songs.

So I was quite glad to receive two emails this morning – one from the guy who will be playing piano, and one from the speaker – each requesting a particular song for tonight.

My pianist requested “I Come by the Blood” by Steve and Vikki Cooke, and the speaker requested “Give Us Clean Hands” by Chris Tomlin, Both good songs, both familiar, and both seem like they’ll work well tonight. 

There are days like today when I’m very glad to take song requests and, since they’re requesting good songs, go ahead and use them. The guys who requested them will feel honored, I have two less songs to have to pick, I’m trusting that God is using their good suggestions to guide my selection of songs, and praying that God uses these songs for his glory.

But there are also days when I get an email or a phone call or a request after church when someone asks me to use a song that I don’t particularly like. Most of the time it’s because the lyrical content isn’t great, but sometimes it’s more a subjective response and I just don’t like it.

What do you do when you get song requests?

If the song they’re requesting has bad theology, or wouldn’t work in your specific setting, I’d just thank them for their suggestions, encourage them to share suggestions any time they want, but be specific (and brief) and kind about why you don’t think you’ll use that song.

But if the song they’re requesting is a fine song and you just don’t happen to like it, I would thank them, encourage them to share more suggestions, and then either go ahead and use the song, or just tell them you’ll keep it in mind. I’ve gotten suggestions for songs that I haven’t liked at the time, but eventually I warm up to the song, or a service comes along when their suggested song would actually work really well.

Just because someone asks for a song doesn’t mean you have to do it. But when you get a request, honor the person by seriously considering it and letting them know what you think. And if you’re like me, and you get two good requests in one day, your life will be a little easier.

3 thoughts on “Do You Take Requests?”

  1. This is tough, especially when the person who’s requesting the song doesn’t have the same priorities you do in leading worship.

    It’s often hard then not only to shoot down heir song but to shoot down their idea of what we’re aiming to do in worship. As hard as it is though, it’s an opportunity from God to correct a potentially faulty and potentially troublesome misunderstanding.

    In these situations I guess your last post is particularity pertinent.

  2. If it’s the elder/preacher I would almost always do it, and need a very good reason not to. I’ve even worked out a song from an mp3 player and written out a chart at the meeting. (But only once).

    If it’s a request from the congregation – almost never. My first church used to practice hymn book bingo (everyone shouts out numbers…) and that got old quickly.

    However, I’m part of a charismatic church where members of the congregation will spontaneously start between 1-4 songs per meeting, which is fine. The songs are all from a self published songbook though, so they are confident the band knows them.

    So I guess we’re a little unusual.

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