TOP NEW CHRISTIAN WORSHIP SONGS EACH MONTH
Worship Leaders, look here to find the Best New Worship Songs each month for Small Churches. Contemporary worship songs that work for Smaller Worship Teams.
This list takes an ocean of worship songs and slims it down to 3.
One fast, one medium, one slow. Each and every month! Making it easier for Worship Leaders in Small Churches to find songs that work.
Challenges of Worship Teams in Small Churches
Small churches are incredibly unique – even from each other.
One church of 60 people may enjoy upbeat contemporary worship and a full band. Another church of 60 may struggle to find musicians.
From mixed ages to older congregations, traditional to modern, there is no one-size-fits-all for a small church.
My 3 Top Songs give contemporary options that be done well with less instruments, with lyrics relating to a broad range of ages, and songs set in a sing-able range.
For tips on Worship Leading, from developing your worship team to song choice and more, click here: WORSHIP LEADING IN SMALL CHURCHES.
OCTOBER 2019 EDITION: TOP NEW WORSHIP SONGS FOR SMALL CHURCHES
#1 FREEDOM by Jesus Culture
- TEMPO: FAST
- CCLI Song # 7078151
- Kristian Stanfill | Brett Younker | Mia Fieldes | Jordan Frye | Hank Bentley
- My Chosen Singable Key: Bb
Don’t Let the Electric Synthesizer Scare You Away
Before you listen to the YouTube below, I have to warn you … it’s heavy on electric keys. But don’t count this song out if you don’t have that sound on your Worship Team. FREEDOM can be done well with acoustic guitar – I know because I tried it!
With a decent guitarist, this upbeat song is do-able and fun. (Although I had to slow the tempo just a tinge to keep up with my strumming.)
Worship Leaders, Introduce this Worship Song with Scripture
I love a song based on scripture.
2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
That is the message of this song!
While that one verse is often quoted, let’s dig deeper into its context.
2 Corinthians 3:7-18 reads:
Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?
If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read.
It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
The Old Covenant and the New Covenant
The beginning of this passage talks about the “ministry that brought death.” The writer is contrasting the 10 Commandments we know from Moses (Old Covenant) with the New Covenant.
- the ministry that brought death – & – the ministry of the spirit
- the ministry that brought condemnation – & – the ministry that brings righteousness
- the glory that was transitory – & – the glory that now lasts
Introduce FREEDOM with this context so worshipers experience the message at a deeper level.
Two Tweaks to Make FREEDOM Work in Your Small Church
Many small worship teams attempt songs outside their vocal range. This leaves vocalists with contorted faces while trying to reach unreachable notes, or it throws the congregation into confusion because they themselves can’t sing the melody.
The truth is a lot of performance songs aren’t designed for congregational worship.
Especially in a smaller church with a smaller team.
This makes song selection especially important. But a little creativity, and sometimes transposing the song into a different key, can be a great fix.
For our congregation, the sweet spot for a singable range is middle C to high C, plus or minus a few notes. I aim to find songs that fit close to a 1-octave range.
Take Out the Octave Flip in FREEDOM
In FREEDOM, Jesus Culture leaps up an entire octave in verse 2 (I call this an octave flip) – we don’t do that. If I tried to do that in congregational worship, the song would flop. As most people don’t have that wide of a vocal range.
For this song, eliminate that flip and sing both verses in the same octave. While attempting this in some songs loses too much of the dynamics, it works here.
Transpose FREEDOM to the Key of Bb
Transpose this song into the Key of Bb and it’s more do-able and within a good range.
If your guitar player can’t play in Bb (‘cause I certainly can’t!), play in the key of G with a capo at 3 frets. Volila!
Utilizing capos is a great worship leading hack that saves many songs from the discard pile.
#2 KING OF KINGS by Hillsong Worship
- TEMPO: MEDIUM
- CCLI Song # 7127647
- Brooke Ligertwood | Scott Ligertwood | Jason Ingram
- My Chosen Singable Key: D
While KING OF KINGS certainly begins softly, the airy mood builds to driven energy. I debated listing this under the Slow Tempo category, but the eventual intensity takes it to my Medium Tempo list.
KING OF KINGS is a Beautiful Modern Hymn
I consider KING OF KINGS a modern hymn because of the following elements:
- The emphasis is the text (the lyrics contain a load of theology)
- The structured melody lends itself to chordal harmonies
- Its 4-verse pattern speaks to classic hymns that we know and love
It’s a Perfect Easter Hymn but So Much More
While this song has Easter written all over it, it also has Christmas, Evangelism, Salvation, and pretty much the whole message of Christianity.
KING OF KINGS is a Contemporary Nicene Creed Set to Music
While the denomination I serve in is creed-less, I grew up Catholic. And still today, the Nicene Creed rings in my memory.
If you are unfamiliar with creeds, a creed is simply a summation of beliefs.
The Nicene Creed came from the year 325, when the Christian church was struggling with heresy. The creed became a declaration that Christ truly was God. The Nicene Creed journeys through Christ’s birth, crucifixion, death, and resurrection – the Trinity, the prophets, our baptism, salvation and life eternal.
The lyrics of KING OF KINGS intertwine theological truth with imagery that stirs emotion, gratitude and awe.
In the darkness we were waiting
Without hope without light
Till from Heaven You came running
There was mercy in Your eyes
To fulfill the law and prophets
To a virgin came the Word
From a throne of endless glory
To a cradle in the dirt
Your Small Church Needs this Worship Song
Please do this song in your small church!
While the recording shows a stage larger than my church’s entire sanctuary, the simplicity of this song and the power of the text will carry KING OF KINGS with a single piano, a sole guitar, or even a cappella.
Caution on This One Tricky Phrase
The third vocal phrase of the chorus goes a bit high (and feels higher than it actually is). As I often suggest, I recommend an alternate melody sung along with the notes on the word “ma-je-sty” in the chorus.
Many congregation members may not sing along with that phrase without a lower alternative. Simply dropping syllables “je-sty” to a “B” does the trick and still sounds great!
#3 JUST BE by Kim Walker-Smith
- TEMPO: SLOW
- CCLI Song # 7128813
- Jonathan Smith | Kim Walker-Smith | Mia Fieldes
- My Chosen Singable Key: E (print in D for newer guitarists to capo 2)
JUST BE is Ideal for Prayer, Reflection, and Quiet
JUST BE might be the shortest, easiest song you ever lead.
Which makes it so perfect for the times in worship when you want your worshipers to be able to just sit at the feet of Jesus. And not worry about the lyrics on the slides. Or a complicated melody line.
Everything else can wait
I’ve come to seek Your face
So everything else can wait
I’m here for You
I want to
Follow JUST BE with a time of Utter Quiet
Have you ever encouraged your worshipers to sit in corporate quiet? For just a few minutes?
I urge you to.
In our very noisy world, the last thing we need is more noise. When I have led our church in moments of silence, I always receive thanks after the service.
Worship beckons us to mental space, to reflection, to connect with the deep that calls to deep.
When a worship order jumps from one item to another with no space, we miss the wholeness of worship.
The song JUST BE invites a truly silent moment.
And I don’t mean with instrumental music playing. I mean complete silence.
If you’ve never tried this, give it a shot. As the song comes to an end, simply say the following, pausing in between phrases:
“Let’s take a few minutes now just to be quiet before God. It may feel uncomfortable. But just take a deep slow breath. Close your eyes. Be in this space. With the Sovereign God who loves you.”
Depending what is next in your worship order, you may want to lightly sing the chorus in closing.
MAKE WORSHIP MORE MEANINGFUL THIS THANKSGIVING, ADVENT, & CHRISTMAS
Don’t let the holidays sneak up on you! You have such an opportunity to lead your team and your worshipers into new places this season. But if you are anything like me, sometimes the holidays come before I’m ready.
Take some time to reflect on where God may be calling you deeper this year.
There are simple, intentional elements that can help lead to heart-change in your congregation, perfect for Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas.
Subscribe to my email if you don’t want to miss my brand new series all about Advent & Christmas.