As a worship leader, I am consistently baffled how many "top" worship songs are actually quite difficult to sing and play.
I'm not talking about the CCLI Top 25 List, as those songs tend to be more tried-and-true favorites (and most of them "old" by most listener standards). When I refer to "top" or "hit" songs in this post, I'm speaking for generally about the group of songs that seem to be current staples of the Sunday setlists all over the country.
Why do worship leaders choose songs that are hard for groups to sing? Better yet, why do congregations respond so well to a lot of these songs, even though they're difficult for a large group of people to sing? It would seem that a crowd of people gathered for corporate singing would prefer things that are simpler/easier to sing.
Of course, every church is different and has its own cultural context. This may account for a portion of the hard-to-sing hits out there, but I think the majority of these difficult ditties are kept alive by the Cover Band Conundrum.
Could it be that congregants like these songs in church because they enjoy these songs in their own personal listening? It makes sense - live music is a powerful thing and it's fun to hear some of the songs you enjoy in your car or during your workout. It makes me worry that we've turned our corporate time of singing into a weekly jukebox where hearing songs we like has become the main priority of our planning.
I want people to enjoy the music we do at my church. But I also want it to help them - to train them up in the Gospel, to give them the freedom to express their thankfulness to God. And that often doesn't happen if a song is too hard for people to sing.
If we're basing the success or failure of worship on how many hands are in the air or how loud people applaud, we using a wrong measurement. Ever been to see U2? Lots of hands in the air, lots of people singing along, very few people worshipping God during...
By all means, try songs that are connecting with folks all over, but don't be so quick to keep them in the rotation. You're not fronting a cover band. You're pastoring people to worship God.