What’s Your First Song Saying to Your Church?

Today’s post is a continuation of a conversation we started around an article by live music producer, Tom Jackson, called Seven Ways to Captivate a Live Music Audience With Your First Song. To fully engage with this, take a moment to read the introduction and part 1.

Tom’s second point in “Seven Ways” is one that doesn’t take any stretching or modifying to fit a worship setting:

2. Make Sure The Content Is Right.

In the last post we talked about the energy of song. I stated that you likely wouldn’t start a worship gathering with I Surrender All or Revelation Song.Both of the songs have plenty energy if done right. But not the right kind of energy to open a service.

What about their content?  

Revelation Song takes us right to the high and awesome throne of the King. To begin with that would be like bypassing base camp and starting vertical ascent to the peak of Everest.

I Surrender All is falling down to give all to Him. This doesn’t lend well to an opening song either. Most people just aren’t ready for that out of the gate.

So what kind of content would Tom recommend?

To + For =

“The first song’s content needs to be for and to your audience….”

Remember, Tom’s writing for performing artists. So while our worship is to be for and to our “audience of One,” we also have a job to bring along the rest of the “worship team”—the congregation.

And let’s face it: Who, more often than not, look and act a whole lot like an audience.

So our role as priestly worship leaders is create a meeting place for man to meet God. Our opening song should help move people from passive reception to active worship.

Come. Join. Enter.

There’s the category of worship song that is more of a horizontal “encourage to worship” song. The older chorus “Come, Now is the Time to Worship” by Brian Doerksen is the quintessential example of this.

But isn’t worship to be directed to God?

Biblical worship includes calling people to worship, to join in, to enter in. The Psalms are filled with calls to worship and praise. Listen to this call to join from Psalm 66:

Shout with joy to God, all the earth!
Sing the glory of his name;
make his praise glorious!
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power
that your enemies cringe before you.
All the earth bows down to you;
they sing praise to you,
they sing praise to your name.”
Come and see what God has done,
how awesome his works in man’s behalf!

This worship leader not only calls the people to worship, but he gives them the words to say to God. Yes, this psalm is glorifying God, but it’s “to and for” the psalmist’s “audience.”

And you can’t leave out Psalm 100. The psalmist/worship leader encourages worship (shout to the Lord…), and prescribes how (“with gladness…with joyful songs”). Then it follows it up with why (the Lord is God. It is He who made us…). And then it repeats that pattern one more time in verses 4 and 5.

So look for those songs invite and connect with people and draw them in. They are often horizontal songs (sung to each other with God as subject). Gateway’s “God Is With Us Now” is a great example of that.

But songs don’t have to horizontal to achieve this. “Here For You” by Redman/Tomlin is an example of an opening song that draws people in and towards the throne, but is still directed at God.

Take time to read this point in Tom’s article. He continues to bring out the idea that the opening song is about how we’re introducing ourselves and establishing a relationship with audience. Something we need to remember as we want to connect and lead our congregation.

So what songs work well for your church as openers? What’s the content that draws/invites people? I don’t know about you, but I could stand to find a few more of those. Would love to hear your input.


Post graphic – Stock.xchng

Disclosure: a couple of the links in this post are Amazon affiliate links. But I only endorse what I love and think you will, too.

Jon Nicol