Are you like me? How many times have you been accused of being stuck in the same style, hooked on the same songs, tied to that one band? “All he plays in Tomlin songs!” “Hillsong United is not the second coming of the Messiah. Don’t they ever play music by any other bands?” “I can’t stand that Lincoln Brewster bubblegum rock music.” “Do we HAVE to play Shout to the Lord again?” “Ugh, it’s another one of his original songs. I definitely don’t know what is original about them.” And on . . and on . . and on.
I want to share some great resources with you, but before I do that you have to decide several things. Without these decisions my suggestions will be useless to you.
You will never satisfy everyone, so give up. You (and everyone who has to deal/live/work with you) will be much happier. Those few malcontents will continue to spew poisonous comments in the guise of “helping” you. Cull what instructive notes you can from their comments and then carefully dispose the rest in your hazardous waste containers under the church stage. (You do have those, don’t you?)
Objectively take stock of your repertoire. You may need help from a trusted friend who is in your corner for this. Find the weaknesses and strengths in your list. “We have lots of songs about the greatness of God, but we have absolutely nothing reflecting on communion.” “We have 95 thrash rock songs and 1 ballad. Maybe we should introduce some slower songs.”
Whittle down your repertoire. 300 songs is too much. Period. Even if you use a hymnal you should not be trying to use all 600 hymns in a given year. Keep the songs which you think will best help the church move forward, then remove the others to make room for newer songs.
Identify one type of song to add to your repertoire. Baby steps. Do not get overwhelmed with the options. Just decide to add one or two ballads, one or two intimate worship songs, whatever.
Don’t yell at the “helpful” people in your congregation. You need to quit drinking hat-er-ade. Thank them for sharing their thoughts with you and tell them you will think and pray over their ideas. Then think and pray over them!
OK, so once you have made it through those stages you will be ready to look for new music. Here are two sources I am currently finding useful for keeping my ears fresh.
Pandora. This is a “duh” moment for some of you, since you are probably already using this great tool. Enter in a song like ones you need to find and see what Pandora comes up with. Do the same with artists and styles. I just got back to using Pandora, and I am loving it.
NPR’s All Songs Considered Podcast. I just discovered this resource and I loved the first podcast I listened to with snippets of Norah Jones’ upcoming album and Sigur Ros’s new music, along with a crazy wide collection of other styles.
No, these are not necessarily Christian sources. You will not go to hell for listening to secular music. You have sung Happy Birthday a million times; it is a secular song and you are apparently still a Christian.
All snarkiness aside, the point is that you need to stretch your ears constantly if you want to keep from getting stuck in a rut. Do it, and you can tell all of the nay-say-ers that you are actively pursuing new music. That response is probably better than telling them to put a cork in it.
What resources do you use to refresh your ears and your repertoire?