Chatting to someone recently, they asked where I go for influences for new songs. This got me thinking (dangerous, I know...)
At my previous church, there was what appeared to be a real resistance to new songs and seeing what others were doing and writing. The worry was that we would become 'copyists' and not follow the leading of the Holy Spirit ourselves. This may be an issue in some churches occasionally but certainly wasn't the case for us.
There is a complicated process that goes on when thinking about new songs. First of all, what might be an old song to some will be a new song to others!
That aside, new songs are a way for me of seeing what God is doing. God is always speaking to us and we should always be aware of his presence, what he is saying and what he's doing. God's always true to his Word but is always doing new things. So I want to be someone who catches hold of what God is doing and goes with it. Some songs come and go - but at times, certain songs will take off across the globe or maybe just in your church. The more we are open to influence from what God is doing generally, the more we can walk in step with him. And new songs plain inspire me!
Like anything, use the good 'meat' and 'spit out the bones'! I want to be open to what God is doing and what God is saying - even if I 'don't like' the band or the 'style'. We need to grow up and get beyond this (every song can be re-done in a way that works for you, or re-keyed etc). And I would hate to miss out on something God is doing just because of my agenda or personal preferences! God's Kingdom is too important and more important, although God gives us a personality and choices as well :)
So new songs and where I tend to look...
1. One thing I do is have a free account with Bethel TV. I like to hear what they're doing and the new songs that are coming out. Which songs are they singing from other artists outside of Bethel? Is there any kind of theme emerging that God may be speaking to his church generally?
2. I listen to iHop KC and the live web stream. These guys have a huge range of younger worship leaders who bring all kinds of songs because the worship and prayer is 24/7. I listen to what songs they're doing, listen to which ones seem to 'take off' and speak. I also just like to have it one, soak in it or play along / learn new songs.
3. There are a number of 'artists' and 'bands' who it's good to keep a general eye on because the songs they have done have had many anointed songs in them. Examples (end of 2015) that I would suggest... (in no particular order...)
- Bethel Church, Redding, CA
- Hillsong (and Hillsong London)
- Matt Redman
- Tim Hughes and Worship Central UK, Worship Central Aus/NZ
- Rend Collective
- Chris Tomlin
- Passion (Passion Conference)
- United Pursuit Band
- Phil Wickham
- IHOP KC and OneThing conference each Christmas in KC
- Chris McClarney
- Jesus Culture
- Martin Smith
- All Sons and Daughters
- New Wine and Soul Survivor
- Matt Gilman
- Cory Asbury
4. I also listen out for new bands and artists. I just like to hear what people are singing and doing. This also includes local artists and people I know where appropriate!
5. I also whip my iPad out when I'm worshipping if a new song comes along. I have several songs that have just sprung out of the Holy Spirit in me. I also look for this to happen when leading. I'm very open to God bringing a new song although I'm cautious not to over-egg things as you can start to lose people - and you're a worship leader not a worship dictator !!
Ultimately, it's about God, building his kingdom and going with anointed God-songs!
What about you? What influences you, how and why?