I try and introduce new or unfamiliar songs to the congregation at the beginning of a worship set. At this point in the service people are generally still getting their thoughts together and are just beginning to get their focus on the Lord. So for me this is the best time to introduce a song. We are at the beginning of the journey into the Father’s presence. When I’m preparing for a journey I can’t wait to actually get into the car and drive. Before the key turns in the ignition there are check lists to tick off, people to organise and so on but once we’re in the car the journey begins and I start to relax. This is how I see the beginning of a time of worship. I feel it is a good use of time; I can’t break a flow that has not yet been established.
I always like to teach the song rather than launch into it. I’ll tell the congregation that it’s a new song, then I’ll sing them a verse, get them to sing it back to me, sing them a chorus get them to sing it back to me and then take it from the top. I generally introduce the tag if the song has one when we arrive at the tag, just pull everything back and sing it to them and then invite them to join in. It’s ok that there’s no real flow, it’s the first time they’ve heard the song.
Once we have sung a new song I tend to move to more familiar songs, you can almost feel the congregation breathe a sigh of relief. I reckon they’re thinking ‘hooray I know this one now I can enter into worship.’ This is where the flow begins to be established the congregation close their eyes, sing away and get lost in God’s presence.
Once I’ve introduced a new song I use the 3.1.1 rule to see if the song will work in the church or not. You use the song for 3 weeks; you rest it for a week and then use it again the next week. If the congregation own the song by this point it’s a keeper.