Six Ways to Find New Music for Your Church
After forming a biblical theology and philosophy of worship and music, the great task of simply finding the right music for a church falls on the shoulders of the worship leader. This task is much easier now that many publishers are going digital with their music. I believe we are nearing the end of the days when a worship leader must sift through stacks of preview music and books searching for that one great song.
But that is precisely our task. In the next post in this series, I’ll discuss why I use the term great music. For the point of this post, I can summarize the importance of finding great music in two statements.
First, I beleive that when better is possible, good will never be good enough. Excellence ought to define every area of our ministry. The art that is used to praise and glorify God should not be the exception to the excellence principle. So we are not merely looking for a good or new song. We want to find the right or the best song.
Secondly, I believe the the best way to build and maintain momentum in your music ministry is to find and use great music. Playing great music inspires your instrumentalists to play better and more. Singing great music inspires the congregation to sing with greater passion and community. Great music pushes your choirs to practice harder and focus in rehearsal. Great music is often the life-blood of the music ministry.
In the next few posts, I’d like to offer some guidance in finding, choosing, and using great music in your church.
1. Listen to as much music as you can.
You’d be surprised where you might find an idea. There are many ways to listen to music, even worship music intended for church. It might take some digging, but there are a few valuable sources of simple music listening.
- Apple Music
- Amazon Music
An obvious word of caution: not every song you’ll hear on these platforms will have all the same stylistic preferences as you. Each song should be evaluated on its own merit and you can always makes plans to adjust for your specific church context if you wish. This is simply the process of finding the song, not the specific arrangement. More on that in a later.
2. Review services of other ministries.
There are several great ministries out there and many of them have a livestream or YouTube channel you can follow. Watch a few services online or get in touch with the worship leader. Sometimes just asking the church for their top 10 favorite anthems can bring some new music to your desk.
Another way you can glean music from another ministry is to purchase their music. Many churches and Christian colleges release albums on a regular basis, and these are often rich in music ideas for the local church. An additional benefit is the fact that some of them will be performed in a way that may be more stylistically fitting for your church and ministry. Every album includes a listing of publisher information, making the songs easier to locate and purchase.
I would be silly not to use this opportunity to invite you to check out WCBC music on iTunes.
3. Subscribe to a Choral Club
There are several choral clubs available from the major music publishers. These clubs send you a box typically every quarter filled with their newest music and demo CDs. These are for preview only (more on copyright laws later). The subscription fee is nominal, and many publishers include a discount voucher in the amount of your subscription fee. There are many publishers, and not all of them have a choral club, but here are ten that might interest you:
- Word Music
- Brentwood Benson
- Praise Gathering
- J. W. Pepper
- His Song Music Publications
- Bible Truth Music
- Majesty Music
- Faith Music Missions
- Lifeway Music
4. Follow blogs/websites that review or post music ideas.
There are so many websites that review or even publish new music that I couldn’t possibly make a list here. Just Google search and see what you find. You might even reach out on social media for recommendations from your friends in music ministry.
5. Join social media groups.
This is a recent one for me. I’ve enjoyed being in a group on Facebook called “The Music Ministry Connection” which is made up entirely of those involved in music ministry. The idea sharing, worship sets, song ideas, and other discussions are both encouraging and helpful. It is also a place you can certainly collect a variety of opinions on different ministry situations.
6. Attend conferences, clinics, and concerts.
What better way to find music than by attending conferences, clinics and concerts where they will sing/play songs that you could use for your church? Every year I receive a handful of emails from those who attend the Spiritual Leadership Conference asking for publishing details of the songs we used in the main services. No doubt you attend a conference on occasion (and if you don’t, I really encourage you to do so).
I recently attended our Southern California regional conference for ACDA (American Choral Directors Association). While the general orientation of the conference was geared toward public education, a vast majority of choral music in schools is sacred in its content. I also found that many church musicians are also members in the association, making it a fun networking opportunity as well.
In future posts, I’ll give some ideas for making the final choices in choosing music, whether it is budget-driven decision or a philosophy-driven decision.
Where do you find new music? What are your favorite blogs/websites on worship and music? Do you attend any helpful conferences you’d like to tell us about? Please share in the comments!