Why We Sing What We Sing Part 1

Why We Sing What We Sing Part 1

(We don't just get it from the radio)

When I tell people I work in worship ministry, I often get asked “How do you decide which songs you sing?” Or, related, “Have you heard this song? Could we sing it sometime?” In my experience, it’s at this point in the conversation where I start to get really excited, and the person I now hold captive begins to realize they have made a horrible mistake. This is likely why they made blogs (whoever “they” are) - so people like me could talk about topics like this. 

In all seriousness, song selection for a church’s weekly worship service is both fun and weighty. It is fun because most people enjoy music! Music has the ability to do what almost nothing else can to focus the heart and mind together on an object of affection, to write a message onto your heart to be remembered, and to help us navigate the range of emotions that God has wired us with. That’s fun!

It’s also weighty when you consider the answers to questions such as: “What are we focusing our hearts and minds on with this music?” “What is this song helping us remember?” “What emotions are we feeling and even stoking?” That’s weighty. It matters what we sing and how we sing it. And yet, musical preference isn’t shaped nearly as much by geography and time as it is by the radio stations we choose to listen to and the connections we have made in person, online, and through the church.

Across churches in America we have music that comes to us through various traditions, songs of such quality that they make it from one generation to another. We have music that comes to us through the life of our own church or churches that have shared their journey through the making of records. And, yes, we even have music that comes to us from various artists and the Contemporary Christian Music industry. I don’t use “industry” in a pejorative sense; it’s merely helpful to remember that, while producing some great music for the Church to use in worship services, an industry also cares about marketability, brands, and other criteria that are distinct from our considerations in choosing songs to sing as a local church. But, nonetheless, the radio can be a very helpful tool in discovering what songs are being sung across the region and the country by other churches.

This can leave us with an overwhelming number of options to choose from when planning a church service. The hymnal that Faith uses has over 800 entries in it, and CCLI, a resource for churches to easily license worship music, boasts tens of thousands of songs in its library. There is good and bad news with this proliferation of songs to sing. The bad news is that we definitely cannot sing each and every person’s favorite song in worship, not even over the course of a year. The good news is that there has never been more to choose from, so we have access to some truly great music.

Our worship leaders do great work in helping plan and execute services at Faith, and that is where most songs first come to our attention. Most of the songs we sing on a Sunday morning came as a suggestion from volunteers in the ministry or people just like you! So by all means, please keep sending us your song suggestions!

Once the new worship song makes it past our worship leaders (they are the ones leading and teaching the songs after all!), it goes through a higher level review to answer the question, “Is this a song we want shaping the spiritual life at Faith Church?” We’ll take a look at how we evaluate that in Part Two next week!

Stay tuned for Part Two of Why We Sing What We Sing!



Dan Pahlau has been on staff at Faith for nine years as the Worship Ministries Director.At Faith, he coordinates and leads our worship services and one of his favorite parts of his job is building teams and relationships with people. 

Dan is a Fort Collins native who enjoys roasting and brewing coffee, staying active and quoting The Office.


3920 S Shields St Fort Collins, CO 80526


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