I am the worship chair of the contemporary service at my United Methodist church. The contemporary service at this church has been in existence for about 17 years. I have only been the worship chair for a little over a year. I do know that when the service first started, they were using CD recordings of songs and singing along with those. The songs that they picked at the time were old then -- songs from the 1960's, 1970's, and a few from the 1980's. I didn't like most of the songs that they played because they were an older style of worship and song.

Then the man who was the choir director at the traditional service kicked out the people who were leading worship before, and started leading worship himself. He picked songs from the 1960's, 1970's, 1980's and a couple from the 1990's. Still, it was sing along with the CD and with the choir director. That choir director left. I'm not sure what they did at that point because I was in college at the time. I assume they continued to use the same CDs that they used before. I didn't like most of the songs that they played because they were an older style of worship and song.

Eventually, the church got a new associate pastor. Her husband played the bass guitar, and picking the music for the service fell to him. He really liked old Hillsong songs -- songs that not many other churches knew at the time (and still don't play). I personally did not like a lot of his choices. However, he worked really hard at picking songs. He also started live music at that service, which was a plus. He played the bass and he brought in some people to play other instruments. I think the live worship worked well. I just didn't care for the style of songs that he generally chose. In the meantime, his wife moved up to become senior pastor of the church.

Several years went by, and that pastor was reassigned to another church. She and her husband left. The person who was playing the keyboard at the time took over selecting songs for the service. She tended to choose mostly all hymns, most of them being written in the 1950's, 1960's, and 1970's. She chose a few songs that were from the 1980's and 1990's. Because she was choosing mostly hymns, and did not really use a computer, the church allowed its SongSelect subscription to expire during the time that she was choosing songs. She worked really hard at picking songs as well. However, again I did not really like much of what she selected because I did not really consider it contemporary worship. I am sure that she considered it contemporary because that is what was contemporary at the time that she was a young adult, and that is what she liked. Some of the songs that picked I did like, though. I just wished that she could have mixed in a few more songs from the 1990's and 2000's and 2010's. I felt like if we advertised it as a contemporary service, then we should have a few contemporary songs.

The keyboardist's husband had a serious fall last spring, and he has been off his feet since then. She has to take a lot of care of him. She decided that picking the songs and playing in the praise band on Sunday mornings was too much for her. She resigned from that volunteer position at the end of January of 2017. Along with her playing, our current senior pastor was playing the bass guitar. His son played the guitar.

In the past year, the church has renewed its subscription to SongSelect, and that subscription is still active.  

Starting in the fall, the sound system in our worship space for the contemporary service started failing badly. The microphones are near end of life. The sound board is losing channels. The amplifiers go in and out, etc. We are trying to get professionals to take a look and give us an estimate of how much it would take to fix and replace all of this equipment. Until all of this equipment gets fixed, we are using CDs, and I am picking the songs that we sing on Sundays.

In my high school, college, and graduate school days, I regularly attended contemporary church services in other places. My first real exposure to contemporary worship was my senior year of high school when I went to an event called Niagara 2000. My friends in college had a contemporary worship service on campus every Sunday night and Wednesday night. I went to several Campus Crusade For Christ conferences during my college years where contemporary worship music was played. I attended a few Vineyard churches in my post college and graduate school days.  

I know the style of worship that I like, and that was used in those settings. I would like to bring it into my church's contemporary worship. I have tried for the past month to do so by selecting CD recordings of some of the songs that I heard being played in real worship settings. However, there are several people in the church who have expressed their extreme dislike of my choices. I know that I can't make everyone happy. However, I do want to make the contemporary service better with more up to date music.

I picked CD recordings of Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, and some Vineyard artists, along with others. The two ladies who lead the singing along with the tape sing very low. However, they are older, and are used to the "contemporary" worship style of the 1950's, 1960's, 1970's, and 1980's. They are finding it almost impossible to sing along with the recorded worship leaders. They claim that there is too much "embellishment" that these worship leaders use. I am not exactly sure what they mean by that. I know what "embellish" means in other contexts. To me, it's just contemporary worship.

Are there any CD worship recordings of Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, or Vineyard songs done by a group of people singing that isn't a big name? Are there any recordings of these songs that are for the purpose of singing along with? I am just trying to see if there is something that we can do.

One more thing -- once the sound system gets fixed, what would be the best key to put songs in that would make it easy for people to sing along with? We will go back to live worship with the pastor playing the bass guitar and his son playing the guitar as soon as the sound is fixed. I don't want people to hate the songs that I pick, because they are good songs. I just want people to be able to worship, and I want it to truly be a contemporary worship service.

I can provide a list of songs that I would like to use, if someone can tell me where I can find a recording of them.

And, yes, I am aware that the United Methodist Church has a list of CCLI songs that they have "approved" for contemporary worship. However, I am much more conservative theologically then the people who rated the songs, and some of their criteria and opinions I found to be ridiculous.

Views: 286

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

There's a lot here, and it seems that you would probably do better having a face to face chat with an experienced worship leader you trusted and knew than a bunch of random guys on the internet. :-)

A suggestion I would make is when looking for versions of songs to use, try picking live versions, rather than studio recordings. Although they can be a bit 'performance oriented', at the same time things are often stripped back to suit a more participative environment. Youtube can be your friend if you don't mind blurring the edges of copyright a little (I don't know what the specific laws are in your area) and many songs are available performed by ordinary people to varying degrees of ability, readyto be downloaded with appropriate browser plugins (do make sure the CCL returns get filled so the original artist gets paid). Also consider taking the congregation gradually through the evolution of worship music from their own era, rather than dropping them in what feels to them like a foreign land of current stuff.

I don't know you or the people you're trying to serve, so don't really know why they feel the way they do. However worship from the 80's is generally considered to be the last of the 'free worship' era before Christian music became highly commercialised and worship as a gig became normal. It may be that there are some good reasons people don't want to become more contemporary. It's also a shame to reject music from the era that provided the worship foundation for many of the good things happening in worship now (and it's also slightly amusing that songs which are now considered 'old hat' were once radical and powerful enough to get some people kicked out of churches in that era).

Keys. The best key is one that doesn't go too high or too low. Songs by David Crowder Band need not apply. ;-) Women tend to prefer songs pitched lower than men, and if you're not sure about keys then try to sing a song & see where you're straining, up or down.

HTH   :-)

Thank you so much for responding.

While it would probably be true that I would do better talking to someone face to face, I really don't know that many worship leaders.  I thought I would try to see if I could talk to someone online to see what advice they could provide :)

You suggested looking for live versions rather than studio recordings -- that is what I assumed would work better as well...at least when I had more than one version of a song.  I have picked some versions that were recorded at live events (the Passion event CDs, and some other live worship songs).   Unfortunately, the singers had trouble with those as well.  I think they like songs that they can sing straight through without having anything extra in them.  I think that is what they mean by "embellishment," but I am not sure.

Your idea of playing youtube videos that are just sung by random people may actually work.   I hadn't even thought of that.  I will have to experiment and see how that would work.  What specific plugins would I need to download the youtube videos?   Yes, I will make sure that the CCL returns get filled so that the original artist gets paid.  That is important.

I want to see how this week goes first.   We are using a couple songs that were on a small groups type worship CD.  I will see if they can sing with that, and if they like that.  If they do, then I know what type of songs to look for on youtube.  If they don't, then I will have to keep trying.  

I don't mean to fully reject all the older music.  I just wanted to add in some new as well.  Otherwise, people are missing out on some really awesome songs that I think have more theological depth than some of the songs written in the 1970's and 1980's.  I think that people just don't know the new stuff very much.  

LOL.  Which songs were once considered radical and powerful enough to get some people kicked out of churches?

As for keys -- is there a general rule as to what ones are generally good?   Okay, so you think songs by David Crowder Band would be too difficult for people to sing, even if the key were changed?  

Thank you much.  

Song keys: it's not the key, it's where the highest note is.  The general rule is "C to shining C" which means if the song goes above "C" or below "C" (a one-octave range), you're going to start losing people.  May not apply to younger crowds, but as a Methodist, probably fits your crowd.  So many of the new worship songs depend on going up a full octave for the chorus and I generally just avoid those because when you DON'T go up that octave, the song is way less exciting musically...

I found an article about that UMC list of songs:


It seems pretty oriented to plugging different music into a traditional worship service structure, whick kinda tells me that they don't get what contemporary worship is about.  Interesting to know it exists, though.  Have you been successful in avoiding that "The Faith We Sing" book?

Thank you for advice regarding the key.   As I said, my church has a subscription to SongSelect again, so when our sound is fixed, and we can do live worship again, I will change any key that needs to be changed in order to put it in that range.   That is a good guide for me to keep in mind.

Yes, thanks for that article.  I'm not sure I saw that exact one, but I have seen similar ones, and I read over their opinion of some of the top 100 CCLI songs from the last couple of years.   I disagree with them on a lot of what they wrote.  My general impression is that they are completely unfamilar with contemporary music and worship, acknowledge that it exists, don't really like the songs, and they invented a tool to discourage songs that they don't like.

Some of their opinions on songs are completely ridiculous.   For example, they critiqued "How Great Is Our God," by Chris Tomlin.   They flagged it as being racist because of the words, "He wraps Himself in light and darkness tries to hide."  They took the words completely out of their context, and forced another meaning on them that Chris Tomlin clearly did not mean.  Chris Tomlin based his words on a Bible passage, unless they find the Bible passage racist, too.   Sigh.    They put the song on their yellow list, saying that if the worship leaders took time to explain to the congregation that people of all skin colors are equal, it would be okay to sing the song.

I also go the general impression after reading what they wrote on several of Chris Tomlin's song, that at least one person on the committee really, really dislikes Chris Tomlin and his songs.  It seems like one person was assigned to evaluate each song, and the rest of the committee took the person's opinions as fact and agreed with them, then made decisions about how all United Methodists should use the song.

The committee seemed to have problems with any song that referred to Jesus' blood as being atoning for us.   They claim that the songs should be used with caution because some United Methodists find that theology to be offensive.   Yes, some do.  I am aware of that, but that is part of traditional historic Christianity.   Ugh.

Then they have problems with any contemporary song that uses male language for God.   That means that the committee would have a problem with the majority of contemporary songs.   They include using gender inclusive language for God as being Wesleyan theology.   That might be some people's idea of what modern Wesleyan theology is, but John and Charles Wesley never had that as part of their own criteria.

They critique any song that is considered too loud for communion as being not really appropriate for United Methodists, although they might grudgingly put some on the yellow list.  They act as if every sing song should be able to be used during communion.   Sure, communion is important, but I don't think that every song that is picked needs to be appropriate for it.   That's why we need a variety of songs.

I will reply more later.

Oops, I didn't realize that it would post this out of order because I hit reply on Charles' post above.   This post should go after Toni's post below.

Songs from Worship & Song continued:

Word of God Speak (#3184) - Would really like the people in the contemporary service to learn this

Days of Elijah (#3186) - an older worship song, but one that people may enjoy

We Fall Down (#3187) - I enjoy the song, though it doesn't have much content.  I think it could help people learn more what contemporary worship is like, and it is easy to learn.  I would like to use it.

And that concludes the list of songs that my church has used, or I would like them to use from Worship & Song.

The funny thing is that the group who put out "Worship & Song" is a completely different group of people from the people who evaluated the top 100 CCLI songs in the last couple years.   Some of the songs that are in Worship & Song did not even make the yellow list, let alone the green list.  This could be accounted for by a difference in the direction of the United Methodist church from 2011 and now.  It also might be reflective of a totally different group of people with totally different views.  

I'm sure you are aware that the UMC wants to put out a new hymnal, and they want to use the same tool and criteria that was used to examine the top 100 CCLI to decide what songs should be included or excluded from the new hymnal.   It sounds like they might want to use some of the same people that were on that committee for the new hymnal committee, but I am not sure if they will.  I am very concerned about what this new hymnal might look like.

:)   I look forward to having this fun discussion with you and Toni and anyone else who wants to join in.  I was unaware that you were United Methodist as well.   That will definitely make this interesting.  

The church split -- yeah.....I have been hearing about the possibility for a couple of years now.   If we end up on different sides of the issue, that is okay.  We can still talk about worship :)  And who is to say that we couldn't talk after the split?

That sounds like an interesting workshop that you are going to.  Yes, I will be interested in whatever notes you come away with.

Does your pastor follow the lectionary?  If so, you can get a worship calendar.  I have one, and it tells you the Scripture for each Sunday in 2017, as well as telling you if it is a special Sunday.  They suggest hymns to use.  I look at the suggested hymns and the suggested Scripture, and if I can think of a nice contemporary song, then I choose that. There is also a resource available online that tells you the general theme of the week.  The online version only gives about a month or so in advance.


Awww...well I hope that the conference proves beneficial to you and your pastor.

And now to answer Toni:

Yes, I agree that it is really nice that the UMC has gone through some of the CCLI songs and tried to put things into perspective.  The problem, though, is I think they went too far with some of the songs, and I feel like much of what they said was based off of one person's thoughts about the song.  I think they went too far on some songs with the critique.  

I have to say that some of the more recent contemporary songs do seem to be heading towards the empty direction again.   I've been concerned about the direction that some artists take songs, and that so many churches follow after them without thinking.   I've noticed a lot of songs that focus a lot on God's love and feelings, but not have much more content to them.

You wrote:

"A major problem with much contemporary worship is that it seems to be fuelled on emotion and feeling empowered and motivated, often coupled to weak theology, rather than on solid biblical truths. Not that we should not become emotionally involved in worship (quite the opposite) but that what drives our worship to produce emotion should be our relationship with God, rather than a carefully crafted tune and a set of lyrics that tug the heartstrings."

My response:

I've been very, very concerned about this as well.

I don't think it's just a problem with contemporary worship, but I think it is a cultural problem, and not just within Christianity.   So much focus is put on emotions and feelings about things, as if feelings and emotions are supposed to define what truth is.  In my opinion, that is why there are as many divorces and failed relationships as there are.  If people don't "feel" in love with someone, then they assume that they are no longer in love.  Their love is based on feelings, and not a commitment.  

I think people do that with their relationships with God, too.   They believe that if they don't feel close to God, then either there is something wrong with them, or God doesn't even exist, or Christianity doesn't work.  

We should be worshiping God because of who He is, not because we hope to get some emotional experience with Him.   If we get an emotional experience, then that is something that can be a bonus, but should never be sought as the main thing.  People can get themselves into major spiritual problems if they see worship as the time to "feel God."  There is nothing wrong with feeling close to God, but that should never be someone's reason for worshiping God.

I can think of some non-denominational churches that certainly fall into the category of going off of emotion and having very weak theology.  I know that this goes on in denominational churches as well. In some of these churches, I think the people attending have a very different view of God and Christianity.  

Worship needs to be based on a solid theology.  If it isn't, then it's just empty words that people sing to make themselves feel better, and it isn't true worship.   That is one reason why I refuse to sing any song that is published by a certain church.  I don't care how popular the song is, I will not support that church.  I utterly disagree with their theology and I do not want to promote what they teach.  

You wrote:

There is the problem of poetry too, where people use images and allegory in their songs, which is nice for the writer but often makes a mess of theology if the song is understood in a literal sense ('sloppy wet kiss' is a good example) and the problem with singing stuff that isn't clear truth is that it still gets embedded in peoples thinking and comes back out as falsehood later.

My response:

I agree with you here.  I know what song you are referring to.  I don't even know if it is still popular today, but I did take issue with that song when I first heard its usage in worship.   I still like David Crowder's lyrics better.   "Sloppy wet kiss" always made me feel like those words didn't belong in the song or in worship.  I know what the author means, but I feel like it detracts from the rest of the song.  I also feel like the song itself doesn't really say a whole lot.  What it does say is nice, but it seems to be more of a feel good song then one that is theologically deep.

I haven't decided whether I want to try to use that song in my church's contemporary service.  I am leaning towards the "no," end.   If we did use it, we would use David Crowder's lyrics.

You wrote:

There are a number of contemporary and quite popular songs that I won't sing or use because the theology is so far off, and from your list above, I can see you also filter songs based on theology, so you can appreciate the need to not just accept everything at face value.

My response:

Yes, I do filter songs by theology.   I look at what the lyrics are actually saying, as well as what the theology of the author holds to.  I look at the other songs that they have written.  If they are part of a church that is well known, I look at that church's theology.  If I take major issue to their theology, then I won't support the artist by choosing one of their songs for worship, regardless of how popular the actual song is.  Like I said before, there is one publisher/church that I am thinking of in particular.

I don't get why some people take issue with the Holy Spirit.  He is part of the Trinity.  Now, I will agree, that most songs should not be directed to Him.  However, I see nothing wrong with singing a song to Him or about Him every once in awhile.  

That's interesting that people took major issue with any song that mentioned the Holy Spirit years ago. I can understand why people would be fearful of the Holy Spirit or His work -- there have been many abuses in the church around the Holy Spirit.  I think people tend to overreact, and want to throw out everything and run the opposite direction when people abuse a doctrine.

Thanks for the information about the youtube plugin!  :) 

Oh, we're going to have a fun discussion here :-)  In case I didn't say this before, I'm at a Methodist Church in Phoenix AZ, which is close enough to California that when the whole United turns into Untied, we'll probably be in different camps, but for now, we can still talk :-)

I'm going next Saturday to an event with our pastor -


...I'm not sure how much collaboration we're going to be able to work out - given that I don't find out anything about the topic of the service until Friday each week when I see the bulletin (and then it's just the scripture and sermon title, and, obviously, I already have to have picked the songs by then).  I've looked a bit at the website Chuck Bell (the music guy) has, and I fear he's going to be one of those guys who thinks hot-rodding the hymns by playing the guitar (almost) double time brings new life into them... but I'm going to try to be open minded.  Our pastor has expressed an interest in the past in planning more in advance, but the choir director ignored it and I think the pastor kinda likes the choir director better than me, anyway.

Uhh, yeah, let's continue :-)  I'll post somewhere here my notes on that workshop when it's over...

I am back.  I noticed that on their rating scale they have a category called Unitarian.  I am not sure their intention with that.   Do they want songs that are appropriate for Unitarians (generally people who deny Jesus' deity), so as not to offend that crowd?    Or are they talking about Jesus Only/Oneness Pentecostal groups, which are also Unitarian because they believe in only Jesus' deity, claiming that the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are just names for Jesus.  Maybe they were trying to give each song a rating about this.  Both theologies are unorthodox.

It's clear from reading their ratings of songs that they consider the contemporary songs that they rated to be too focused on Jesus.   They considered any song that called Jesus "King" to be unbiblical.   They claim that there are hardly any references in the Bible to Jesus being King.   I disagree.  If Jesus is the Messiah, then that automatically implies that He is King.  Furthermore, I can find many references in the NT to Jesus being King.   I guess they ignore those references.

It is true that many contemporary songs tend to focus on Jesus.  It is also true that some artists have been Jesus Only/Oneness Pentecostal in background.  However, I would say that the majority of artists do not hold to that theology, and you can find songs by them that refer to the Father or the whole Trinity as well.

It get the feeling that they just don't want to worship Jesus at all.  They would rather the song just worship the Father.  I also know that there are some people in the United Methodist Church who do deny Jesus' deity.   However, officially the UMC still believes in the Trinity.  

I feel like their political correctness of not wanting to offend people with progressive/liberal theology is their guiding principal as to whether or not a song is appropriate for all United Methodist churches to sing.  :(    They don't seem to be too concerned about what might be offensive to United Methodists who hold to conservative/traditional theology. 

You wrote: "It seems pretty oriented to plugging different music into a traditional worship service structure, whick kinda tells me that they don't get what contemporary worship is about.  Interesting to know it exists, though.  Have you been successful in avoiding that "The Faith We Sing" book?"

My response:

Hmmm...I think that is pretty accurate as to their view.   They may be thinking of churches who have gone back to having one service, which would probably tend to be traditional, and plugging these songs into that.   Maybe they also hope that churches will move away from having contemporary services at all.  I am not sure.

As to the "The Faith We Sing" book -- my church actually does occasionally use songs from that in the traditional service.  When the keyboardist that I mentioned above was picking songs, she would choose a lot of them from "The Faith We Sing." 

I actually have a copy of "The Faith We Sing."  There are certainly theologically problematic songs in it, and fortunately my church has never used them.  (Examples:  Womb of Life, Mothering God You Gave Me Birth, I Am Your Mother (Earth Prayer), She Comes Sailing on the Wind, Come and Find the Quiet Center).

However, there are some good older songs in it as well.   There are some okay songs, too that we have used -- songs that are not my favorite, but there isn't really anything wrong with them -- just not as in depth as some of the newer contemporary songs, and very repetitive.

We've used the following out of "The Faith We Sing" -- ones that the keyboardist mentioned above chose:

I Will Call Upon the Lord (#2002)

Praise the Source of Faith and Learning (#2004)

Arise, Shine (#2005

Glorify Thy Name (#2016)

Great is the Lord (#2022)

As the Deer (#2025)

We Bring the Sacrifice of Praise (#2031)

My Life Is In You, Lord (#2032)

Give Thanks (#2036)

Father, I Adore You (#2038)

Awesome God (#2040)

If It Had Not Been For the Lord (#2053)

You Are My Hiding Place (#2055)

The Lily of the Valley (#2062)

O Lord, You're Beautiful (#2064)

More Precious Than Silver (#2065)

I Love You, Lord (#2068)

He Is Exalted (#2070)

Jesus, Name Above All Names (#2071)

Shout to the Lord (#2074)

You Alone Are Holy (#2077)

Open Our Eyes (#2086)

Lord, I Lift Your Name On High (#2088)

Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley (#2112)

I Have Decided to Follow Jesus (#2129)

I've Got Peace Like a River (#2145)

His Eye Is On the Sparrow (#2146)

Lord, Be Glorified (#2150)

Change My Heart, O God (#2152)

Just a Closer Walk With Thee (#2158)

He Who Began a Good Work In You (#2163)

Sanctuary (#2164)

Cry of My Heart (#2165)

Christ Beside Me (#2166)

Shine, Jesus, Shine (#2173)

Make Me a Servant (#2176)

Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying (#2193)

In His Time (#2203)

They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love (#2223)

Bind Us Together (#2226)

O Look And Wonder (#2231)

He Has Made Me Glad (#2270)

I'll Fly Away (#2282)

For All the Saints (#2283)

Keep in mind that "The Faith We Sing" came out in 2001, so many of the songs in it are praise and worship songs from the 1970, 1980's, and early 1990's.  Although I strongly disagree with the theology in some of the songs, I think it would be a mistake to dismiss the whole book because of the bad ones. 

The main problem with "The Faith We Sing" is that it is not truly contemporary worship.  There are some contemporary songs in them, but most people probably would not consider those songs to be contemporary anymore.  (Shine Jesus Shine, Shout to the Lord, Lord I Lift Your Name on High, Sanctuary, Cry of My Heart, Change My Heart O God, etc.)  That does not mean that we cannot use these songs.  It just means that we should also include more contemporary songs along with them.

Now, they did come out with another supplement that is more recent.  I am not sure if you are familiar with it.  It is called "Worship & Song."  That one came out in 2011, however the theology of the day is also reflected in it.   :(

Worship & Song contains some very good contemporary songs in it.  However, it also contains some very theologically bad songs -- songs that are more earth centered.  Again, I wouldn't throw out the whole book because of the bad songs.  You just have to use extreme caution when looking at the songs.

What they have tried to do with this book is take the tunes from old hymns and put new words to them.  Sadly, some people don't look at the lyrics and don't care about the lyrics.  They just say that it's the same song as the original because it is the same tune :(   They also somehow consider this to be contemporary worship.

Here are some of the songs they included in it:

O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing  (#3001) (apparently they considered some of Charles Wesley's original verses to now be un-Wesleyan, and deleted the verses that talked about Jesus' blood.   Compare it with the 1989 hymnal, the 1939 hymnal, and the 1965 hymnal and you will see what they did.)

Blessed Be Your Name (#3002) -- Yes, this is Matt Redman's song -- I am glad they included it, as I would like the people that attend my church to learn it

How Great Is Our God (#3003) - Yes, this is Chris Tomlin's Song -- this was included in this book before the committee who rated the CCLI songs decided it was racist.  I would also like the people who attend my church to learn this song.

Step by Step (#3004) -  an older praise and worship song, but not a bad song

Open the Eyes of My Heart (#3008) - another older praise and worship song

What a Mighty God We Serve (#3016) - older praise and worship song

Everlasting God (#3021) - Brenton Brown's song, and I really would like the people who attend the contemporary service to learn this

Forever (#2023) - Chris Tomlin's song, and I would like people who attend the contemporary service to learn it

Hallelujah (#3027) - Brenton Brown's song -- it would be nice for them to learn, but I like some other songs better.  Still, not a bad song.

Holy Is the Lord (#3028) - Chris Tomlin's song -- I would like the people who attend the contemporary service to learn it

God of Wonders (#3034) - it's an older praise and worship song, but I would like them to learn it

Mighty to Save (#3038) - I definitely would like the people in the contemporary service to learn this song

You Are My All In All (#3040) - this is actually a song that they already know, and I would like to keep doing it

Shout to the North (#3042)- another song that they already know, and I would like them to keep doing it

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (#3052) - must have been removed from the 1989 hymnal because they couldn't "fix" it to make it gender inclusive.   People must have requested it, so they included it in this supplement.

Day of Arising (#3086) - a song that our former keyboardist picked.  

Falling on My Knees (#3099) - Never heard it called this before, so I almost missed that it was in this book.  I have always heard it called "Hungry."  Anyway, it is an older song, but I think it would be good for the people to learn.

Jesus Paid it All (#3100) - looks like it was not included in the 1989 hymnal for some reason.  People must have requested it, so they put it in this supplement.

You Are My King (#3102) - I would like the people in the contemporary service to learn it.  It is older, but a good song.

Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) (#3104) - I tried having the congregation do Chris Tomlin's recording of this song last week.  It seemed that some people really liked it, while others had a hard time singing it, or did not like it because they prefer the original "Amazing Grace."  

In Christ Alone (#3105) - I would like to have the people in the contemporary service learn this song.

Your Grace Is Enough (#3106) - I would like to have the people in the contemporary service learn this song.

Just a Little Talk With Jesus (#3107) -- this is a song that the keyboardist had chosen.  It is not one of my favorites, but people tend to like it.  I don't consider it contemporary at all.

Trading My Sorrows (#3108) - this is a song they already know, and I would like to continue doing

Breathe (#3112) - not my very favorite song, but it might be nice for them to learn, as it is an older contemporary song

Touch the Earth Lightly (#3129) - the keyboardist had them learn this song.   I don't really like it at all, and I would not like to continue with it in the service, but it is some of the people's favorite song.   The tune is pretty, but the lyrics are not really appropriate for worship, in my opinion.  The summary of the song is "Humans are evil, they pollute and destroy the earth."   The lyrics don't actually say that, but that is the sentiment expressed in the song.   It really has nothing to do with worshiping God.  People have used this song as part of a pagan creation worship earth day celebration in other contexts.  

Come to the Table of Grace (#3168) - the keyboardist picked this song.  

Come, Now Is the Time to Worship (#3176) - an older worship song that they already know.  We can continue doing that.

Here I Am to Worship (#3177) - I definitely would like the people at the contemporary service to learn this song

I will write more later

"I will write more later"


I looked through the reviews of songs on the yellow list from Charles' link, and their comments on many of the songs are extremely perceptive in summing up the theological problems they present. I wish more church streams were as thorough in trying to ensure their people sang truth instead of emotionally driven songs often based on wishful thinking.

That said, I do take issue with the viewpoint they have over the attributing maleness to the Godhead and a general woolliness about gender and skin colour, and probably feel similarly to you regarding that. My esteemed friend also posting in this thread may, of course, feel differently. :-)

A major problem with much contemporary worship is that it seems to be fuelled on emotion and feeling empowered and motivated, often coupled to weak theology, rather than on solid biblical truths. Not that we should not become emotionally involved in worship (quite the opposite) but that what drives our worship to produce emotion should be our relationship with God, rather than a carefully crafted tune and a set of lyrics that tug the heartstrings. There is the problem of poetry too, where people use images and allegory in their songs, which is nice for the writer but often makes a mess of theology if the song is understood in a literal sense ('sloppy wet kiss' is a good example) and the problem with singing stuff that isn't clear truth is that it still gets embedded in peoples thinking and comes back out as falsehood later.

There are a number of contemporary and quite popular songs that I won't sing or use because the theology is so far off, and from your list above, I can see you also filter songs based on theology, so you can appreciate the need to not just accept everything at face value.

You were asking what songs would get people thrown out of churches - anything that mentioned the Holy Spirit. The general acceptance of God the Spirit being at work in His church overtly was almost unthinkable for many 2 generations ago, and 3 generations back in the evangelical traditions was unwelcome and a source of fear. A reason many started meeting in house churches was because they had no place in traditional churches, and even if they weren't asked to leave, were made to feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. It's quite hard to imagine that now, the landscape has changed so much in 40 years, at least in the UK.

Regarding youtube downloading, I use a Firefox plugin 'Video download helper' but there are others available, and I would strip out the audio (can't remember what I used for that, since I last did it probably 3-4 years ago) although you could just play back the video without graphics output to the projector.

I suspect that this article:


is what that UMC scoring system is talking about... and I suppose I fall into the "it's really not that important, at least in terms of the songs we sing" bucket.  More specifically, it doesn't bother me if a song kinda mixes up references to FS&S with each other, nearly as much as it bothers me when a song is talking ABOUT God in one place and TO God in another place (where "God" could refer to F/S/S in the same song).

Not sure if I qualify around here as anybody's "esteemed friend," and as a soon to be elderly white anglo saxon american protestant male (who likes girls), I try not to be too pushy about who might be offended by what language is used here or there, but i will say that if I sense that a song is going so far out of its way to be "gender inclusive" that it seems to me to be taking focus away from what the song says about God, I won't use it with our band, but most of those songs in TFWS and elsewhere tend to be musically stuck in 1960s summer camp anyway.  In our contemporary service, we (they) have used, I think, three of the five "theologically problematic" songs you mentioned, but the pastor picks the songs for that service...

I did ask our current (female) pastor whether she expected us to cut any songs out of our contemporary repertoire that referred to God as "he" and was told I don't have to worry about that.  But there are people who consider "Lord" and "King" and "Father" and "He" to all be inappropriate for referring to God.

I haven't seen W&S, but, yeah, a lot of the ones you list are ones we have done (and in some cases are still doing), The people who do the "Upper Room" devotional books put together a songbook a few years back, and I almost had a song in that, except that somehow everything from Ra - Ro got left out, and my song had the misfortune to be called "Rise Up Lord."  Oh, well.

Yes, that is my suspicion -- that the people setting up the critiquing tool came from a more Unitarian perspective.  However, they did seem to commend artists for talking about the Trinity when they did, which is why I was confused by the Unitarian category.

Whomever wrote the Unitarian website misunderstood what Trinitarian beliefs are in regard to Jesus.   They seemed to think that Trinitarians only believed that Jesus was 100% God, and not also 100% human.  

My perspective is that the Trinity in worship is very important in terms of this:  One God in three Persons, which would rule out any song that suggests there are three different gods.  It would also rule out any song that denied the deity of the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit.   It would rule out any song that said that Jesus is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  It would rule out any song that explicitly denied the Trinity.

Now, with that said, I am not bothered about songs that supposedly mix up human pre-determined roles that the Persons in the Trinity have.  Why?  Because if God is truly triune, which I believe He is, and which the UMC officially teaches, then all three Persons would be involved in whatever God does.  There are passages in the Bible that talk about all three Persons participating in creating, raising Jesus from the dead, salvation, etc.  There's a list I have in a book somewhere that lists some of these verses and actions by God.

Are there distinctions between things the Persons have done and do?  Yes.   Jesus obviously died on the cross, not the Father or the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts and sanctifies.  I would be bothered if a song attributed those actions to other Persons of the Trinity.  

As to what you wrote about songs talking about God in one place and to God in another place (where "God" could refer to any member of the Trinity in the same song), this actually does not bother me at all.  I see this sort of switching going on in Scripture itself.  Look at Zechariah 12:10 as an example (well, this verse will only work as an example in some Bible translations.  Some translations have tried to make the translation easier by changing one of the pronouns to make them match).  

In my thinking, if we are worshiping God, then we can refer to any member of the Trinity as God, and we can also refer to the whole Triune God as God.  In worship, I think it is possible to make a transition between singing about God to singing to God in the same song.  I understand, though, how that might be awkward for some people, and how it might get in the way of being able to worship God because a person is distracted by the change in pronoun or address.  That is more of a personal preference, and I think it is important to keep in mind.

I agree that if a song seems to be really pushing gender inclusiveness that it definitely detracts from worship for me.  Yes, it would seem to be trying to be politically correct over actually worshiping God.  

LOL. I know that not everyone is going to agree with me about what a theologically problematic song is.   It is interesting to hear that some of those songs that I mentioned are actually used in worship.  I've never heard any of them used in an actual worship service.  I just knew that they were in TFWS.  Yes, many of the songs in that book are older.

Yes, I know that there are people who take the gender inclusiveness for God to the level of being offended by "Lord," "King," "Father," "Son," "He," and "Him."  They would consider those words or titles to be inappropriate as references to God.  If all songs that used any of those words as references to God were eliminated, then there would not be many contemporary worship songs left.  

Aww...too bad your song missed out in being included in the "Upper Room" songbook.  I hadn't heard that they had a songbook.   Congratulations for having a song that would have made it in there :)   That's pretty neat to have your song published.

Time to start a fresh section.

It may be helpful to share a little of my background, because you might find some overlap (or you might not).

I grew up in a traditional Baptist church, distinctly not aware of the Holy Spirit, and after some very difficult times was saved and baptised in the Spirit. At that time (mid-late 70's) the UK church was just becoming aware of the Holy Spirit and gifts etc, but the response was cool, church practice was all about the formula and there was no obvious life. As a result of my experiences I rejected traditional worship and hymns as belonging to a dead past, wanting nothing to do with them. Many of the new songs were basically scriptures to music, and there was life in them.

Cue forward to 2009 and we became involved in a church plant that sang a lot of shallow contemporary stuff, where I had no input into the worship, and suddenly I found myself wanting some meat in what we sang. It caused me to turn back to the hymns that I'd rejected in my youth, finding solid, careful theology in the words (and a tune one could sing). I'm not really a natural fan of hymns, but they have become a place where I can go when I need something solid, that won't try to tell me about how I'm living for Jesus and giving Him everything when I know it isn't true, but help me see Jesus instead.

I also came to recognise the power of emotions in worship at that time, when I found myself getting many of the same feelings listing to Gary Moore as would happen in a worship meeting. It made me step back and think good & hard about what I did and what I wanted to do in the future, and it's also made me sensitive to guys that whip up emotion from the front.


About worship sources, there are a HUGE number of people out there, all producing vast amounts of music - far more than any church could possibly use. I'd generally reckon it's worth finding half a dozen artists that you can rely on to provide songs that aren't heretical or just froth, then use them as a source of new material, but also keep an ear open for other good stuff. My experience is that most 'worship albums' have 1 or 2 songs out of a dozen or so that could actually be used, or if they're exceptional then maybe 3 or 4, so if they can manage 1 new album per year that will generally give enough new material on an ongoing basis.

Thanks for telling me a little bit about your past.   

I have a list of songs and artists that I really, really like.  I plan on mostly pulling from those.   And, yes, when those artists come out with new songs, I will consider adding them to the list.  It is also going to depend on what I find works in the church that I am a part of.  I won't really know if a song works until we can get back to live music -- which will mean we can eliminate the "embellishments" that the singers up front take issue with.  

I needed to know the key, which the C to C sounds like it will make a good gauge.  

If our church is able to hire a song leader, then I won't have to worry about picking the actual songs.  I can meet with the song leader about song choices, etc.   


© 2018       Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service