Too Familiar with the Familiar?

iStock_000013250669_Medium By Kacee Pate (Worship Leader, City Life Church)

Learning and introducing new music is fun. Writing your own music and working with your team is exciting. And thankfully, there is no shortage of amazing worship music out there these days to keep us inspired—to which my 1996 self says, "Count your musical blessings, 2016 self!"

As awesome as this is, the reality is that we cannot (or rather, should not) introduce three new songs to our churches every week. That means we’ll be doing some of the same songs over and over, for a long period of time. Perhaps past the window of time that those songs held your interest musically or preferentially.

Repetition and familiarity have tremendous value and importance in a congregational worship setting (another post for another day). But you might find yourself just going through the motions because the impact of the message has become lost through familiarity. Let's face it—creative people get bored easily. So what can we do to fight this?

Here are two practical and spiritual "checks" (just a couple of many) to help you fight becoming too familiar with the familiar.

Check Your Approach     

Think about the song in a new way. Think about the emotion of the song and the tone of the song, and then think about how you can personify that through what you’re playing or singing.

Are you bringing your best to what you're doing? Maybe as a drummer you can build that bridge a little differently, letting the intensity and passion of the lyric burst through the end of your sticks, communicating the message with your dynamics. Maybe as the leader you take the bridge of another song or a tag line and intertwine it with a familiar song to give it new energy or reinforce the message. Maybe it's reworking a hymn to give it a fresh sound.

It’s possible to stretch creativity and bring a challenge within the framework of the familiar; you just have to look for it.  

Check Your Heart                                                                                               

When we find ourselves going through the motions in music about God, are we going through the motions in our relationship with God?

Have we lost the wonder and awe of the original and ultimate Creator in our quest to be creative? I'm pretty sure the angels in heaven are not tired of singing, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty who was and is and is to come!" over and over, because they are constantly beholding Him, captivated by His love and splendor, in awe of His power and majesty, and compelled to explode in worship as a result!

The power and truth of what we're saying every Sunday supersedes the style we deliver it in or how new or old the song we sing is. And that is what we need to remember and be inspired by every week. That power and truth will ignite exuberant praise and passionate worship. We need to remember the same God, yesterday, today, and forever; the power of the cross through Jesus; the condition of our hearts without Him; and the potential that anything can happen when this amazing God inserts Himself into a room full of people ready to be with Him.

Let's go beyond ourselves and into why we do what we do: not to put our skill on display or get the chance to scratch a creative itch, but to help people lift their eyes off of themselves and up in worship to their Creator. People probably won't leave repeating the entire sermon all week long, but they might be singing the song that communicated the Gospel through music.

Maybe it's the fiftieth time you've sang that song, exactly that way, with the same amount of passion every time. But He moves like you've never seen Him move before because He is anything but familiar or predictable.

And THAT is definitely not boring.