The Songs You Choose During Online Only Make A Difference


Here in the state of Illinois, the Covid restrictions are becoming tighter. Though the governor can’t dictate worship gathering limitations our United Methodist tribe asked all the churches in our conference to suspend all in-person worship for the month.

So here we go again.

Online only worship begins again this Sunday and will probably last until 2021.

Here are a few things I want to try and remember as we are choosing music:

Less Overall

Maybe this isn’t true for everyone, but in my limited experience of participating online, there seems to be a disconnect when the songs and music portion of worship go back to back for an extended period of time. As you are choosing music, there’s a chance we need to provide fewer songs overall to have an effective connection with those on the couch.

Performance Mindset

In the first wave of the pandemic, we reverted to very familiar songs so people could get a sense of normal. During this year, however, though we still throw in the standards, we’re also using this time to do a song in more of a performance mindset. These songs can either be ones that we eventually want the congregation to sing or they may just fit well with the message that day – a one-timer. In a sense, when people are watching online, there’s a good chance every song feels like a performance piece. Now might be a good time to consider pulling in unique arrangements, instrumentation, etc.

New Songs

Since people are mainly just listening to online worship, now is a good time to pull out new songs. You still need to balance this with the opportunity you and the worship team have to get songs rehearsed and prepared well. Anything new helps keep the congregation on their toes – and adds to the extra energy needed to make online worship in your home come alive.

How Songs Fit Into The Order

We’ve found that breaking up the order helps people stay engaged. We’ve experimented with lots of various worship flows, and one thing that seems to stick is when there is something between music selections. This can include intros of who is speaking or leading (which are very important during online worship) to Scripture, prayer, welcome, and more.

Without a congregation there, we’re relying on all the energy to come through the screen. It’s a unique thing and everyone is dealing with it. Song selection plays a role in the overall puzzle of being effective in this online-only world.

What are you doing? How has it been working in your church?