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.