Many worship leaders look to their car-stereo presets for new worship songs. If you’re listening to Christian radio in search of new congregational music, we think you should look elsewhere. Here are three reasons why:
1. Radio rewards new over good
24/7 programming has an insatiable appetite. It must be fed continually with new content or it quickly gets tired and worn. “10,000 Reasons” might be the most loved worship song of the last 10 years, but it’s been played out on Christian radio. Great music gets pushed aside by new music, and church worship needs what’s great.
2. Radio demands positivity
Since the vast majority of radio listeners tune in during their commute, DJs play all the most cheerful songs. Nobody wants to hear a dramatic ballad on the way to work in the morning, and certainly not as they return home at the end of the day. The tagline of one popular national radio station remains, “positive, encouraging.” There’s nothing wrong with positive music unless it creates a reality vacuum. Not all of life is rainbows and unicorns. Many people look to the church for validation of the pain they feel. Worship sets loaded exclusively with positive songs do not mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15). Our worship needs to acknowledge injustice and offer hope. It must never paint over reality.
3. Radio loves a big lift
A recent article in Worship Leader Magazine points out that a successful radio single follows a predictable formula—catchy, up-tempo hook swelling at the bridge often through a key change. It’s uplifting, even transcendent when executed well.
The result? Worship leaders with better-than-average singing voices select songs that everybody knows from the radio, but only they can sing well, making the rest of us spectators to someone else’s worship experience. Worship is not meant to be observed. It’s meant to be practiced.
Other than the radio, where do you discover new worship music? Tell us in comments.