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5 Big Reasons That New Song Tanked, Part 1

5 Big Reasons That New Song Tanked, Part 1

By Jon Nicol on January 07, 2015

Have you ever introduced a new song into worship that just didn’t seem to work? Whenever you played it, it just didn't seem to connect, resonate, or "stick,” and you just got this deer-in-headlights look from your congregation.

So why is this new song tanking?

If we can figure this out, we can work to make our new songs connect and resonate. Here are five big reasons that the new song I picked didn’t stick.

1. I Didn’t Select The Right Song

Most of us probably aren’t picking “bad" songs, but we don’t always pick the “right" one. (Click to tweet!) Here are two questions to ask to determine if it’s the right song:

First Question: Is it accessible by the congregation?

Finding a “congregational” song can be tough, and different congregations can handle different songs. Here are some things to look for:

a. It’s too hard to sing rhythmically.

It might be too syncopated with too many complex rhythms. The more complex a song is, the longer it takes to learn it.

b. The key is too high (or low). This one is fixable. Unless...

c. The range is too wide.

This one is a big issue lately. Many of our modern writers are putting the verses in the basement and the choruses on the rooftop. Depending on the key, the average person won't be able to get to one of those two places.

And sure, you can sing the verse and chorus in the same register, but then you lose the power of the song. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do songs like this, but be selective and limit the number of basement/rooftop songs.

Second Question: Is it relatable to the congregation?

The first issue of relate-ability is whether it fits the culture of your church. If you’re in a church in small town Indiana that loves it’s bluegrass and southern gospel, an Israel Houghton tune may not fly.

Another issue is content: Do the lyrics related to the congregation?

Here’s an example lyrical disconnect: Many of our modern songs are written by “artists" who feel and express differently than the average person. Especially the average guy. So if we’re stacking our sets with songs about running to Jesus' arms and falling in love, it’s probably missing the mark with those dudes. Even the ones that really do love Jesus.

I’ve purposely begun to look for new songs that have more of a masculine feel to them. It doesn’t mean we don’t do songs of intimacy and devotion, but I want some songs the average NASCAR-watching guy in my church can sing, too.

Another reason why songs aren’t relatable is the melody. It just might not be catchy or memorable. I’m not saying we need to sing worship equivalents of “All About That Bass,” but the songs we pick need to have a melody that people can remember and connect with.

So, picking the right song is important, but even if you do that there are still some other ways to make a song tank.

Let’s look at the second reason...

2. I Didn’t Really Sell The Song.

OK, that doesn’t sound very spiritual. What does selling have to do with introducing a new worship song?

Well, a lot.

"Selling a song" sounds crass, but it’s simply presenting it in a way that people want to sing it—and sing it again.

Two things can help with this.

Start With Why

When you introduce the song, talk about why this song is being added to your collection of songs that you sing regularly. It may express something other songs don’t, or it brings out a key point about following Jesus that you want your church to focus on. When people know why, they often are more open to accepting something. (Click to tweet!)

Present It Well 

Let’s face it: most worship teams tend to play new songs before they’re ready. When a leader and band muddles through a song, the congregation isn’t given a chance to see that song shine and really connect with it.

At my church, we play a song for at least three Sundays during our pre-service time as people are coming in. This helps us prepare it for prime time. These pre-service times get the band comfortable with a song before they introduce it. And it has a side benefit of letting the congregation hear it—at least all six people who have arrived early enough.

We’ll dive into the other three reasons in Part 2.


To dive deeper into the topic of songs for worship, you can download a free resource called, 7 Checkpoints to a Healthy Master Song List.

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Jon Nicol

Jon Nicol (Guest Writer)

Jon Nicol is a worship pastor, coach, blogger and author of "The SongCycle: How to Simplify Worship Planning and Re-Engage Your Church." You can learn more about him and his many free resources at WorshipTeamCoach.com.

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