A Biblical passage, which may seem unappealing for years, may take root in a person's heart and suddenly sprout, as one has gained the life experience to make it meaningful. Isaiah 53 even describes Jesus' life in that pattern -- not particularly attractive to us, and when He ministered (other than the miracles) we didn't want His message.
I wish there were more songs like that; but in congregational singing we "vote" with our enthusiasm or boredom as "yea" and "nay" on a song. Perhaps they may turn down a perfectly good song; but I've found that it is practically impossible to get a foothold for a song that didn't catch on the first time.
So a wise songwriter keeps things simple; avoids gimmicks (which are quickly accepted but have a short half-life); works hard to achieve well-crafted lines that don't have odd lumps or meaningless pauses; resists the urge to write anything too fast to sing clearly, or having too much range to sing well.
I agree -- the exceptional song has a place. Without exceptional songs we don't have Beethoven's 5th, we don't have David Crowder or Jason Upton or the Mannheim Steamroller or Bachianas Brasilieras and ten million other great works of musical art and ministry. Some exceptional songs require an exceptional place. One church in a thousand has the horses to do Handel's Messiah; but by combining volunteers, an entire city's musicians can present it admirably, with just a few practices, so that its unique and astonishing presentation of the Gospel can be shared with their fellow-citizens..
I have been reading some of the replies, and maybe I am too simple and new, but is this whole discussion not just distracting what it is really all about? The way I see it, as a (member of the) worship leadership (team) you have bit one sole responsibility, and that is to assist people in connecting to God, and if that is done through CCM or P&W, in a congregational suitable/working fashion, and in a way it becomes service/sermon relevant than it is not up top us to decide whether opr not we like the songs, but whether it serves the purpose in all respects of the word.
Sure enough we are called worship leaders but are we not most of all servants? It's not about how we would like to lead the sheep but about how the sheep are best lead is it not? As a music ministry team that means (in my view ) looking at songs that work for a particular setting and congregation and as an individual musician it means what can I do to suport and preferably enhance what we are trying to achieve. So as a team we listen to the people to see what their respinse is to what we are doing and if it does not draw them closer that we should change course, and as an individual musician it means listening more than playing probably. As a team you are there to lead, not to entertain (although the ultimate combination would be to lead by entertainment probably), but the leading into worship should be the prime focus, the songs should be relevant and thew way you play them may differ from flock to flock.
Gandhi once said: I am their leader therefore I must follow them. Perhaps that is a lesson all worship leaders should take to heart.
Deep down somewhere I tend to think that the music I like is just a little better, even just one percent better, than someone else's favorite; and I'm always just a little surprised when someone else's favorite hits home, and influences someone Godward.
We are sure of what we like, and know how to use it; we have to trust what someone else likes, and learn how to use it. Scary stuff; but a little trusting helps the good stuff to happen.
I've been trying to get that idea across to our entire team for a while now. I keep praying, and keep remembering why I'm there in the first place!
Today I was flipping through a collection of new worship songs by Charles Gabriel, and thought to read the preface. The book is designed for choir, but is especially interesting in that it contains no solos at all.
In light of recent discussions, some excerpts containing some admirable thoughts:
..."Concert singers" may be compared (in number) to the sands on the sea shore, while gospel singers are like angel visitors -- very rare. There was more religious inspiration in the weird, sing-song "tune" of the old-fashioned circuit rider than is aroused by the average quartette choir so commonly heard in the fashionable church of to-day; the reason is apparent: -- the latter seeks only to display a degree of acquired strength, flexibility and control of voice, ignoring the song sentiment, while the former forgot himself and accomplishment, and was lost in the sweetness of worship.
...if a spirit of reverence control the singers, and the selection be appropriate to the occasion, then will praise be made comely, and the people listen with pleasure, and understand. A.D., 1900.