Releasing a sermon title prior to the Sunday service is common practice, but a growing number of churches across Texas are doing something similar with their song selections, too—allowing members to know what will be sung long before they enter the doors on the Lord’s Day.
First Baptist Church of Prosper is one such congregation. Jared Whitworth, the church’s minister of worship, posts the upcoming songs on the church’s social media accounts, linking them to the same tunes on Spotify and Apple Music.
The result: members of FBC Prosper can listen to new and old songs alike days prior to the service, readying their hearts for worship. Gone are the days when attendees sit silently in the service trying to learn a tune they’ve never heard.
Whitworth says the idea is grounded in Scripture’s description of worship as a corporate action. He points to Colossians 3:16, which urges Christians to admonish “one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Ephesians 5:19 has a similar admonition, he said.
“There are all kinds of commands in Scripture that tell us worship and singing is a very corporate act,” Whitworth said. “And so that’s the heart behind it—really getting people to learn the songs and be able to better participate in corporate worship so that we can teach and admonish and encourage each other as we are worshiping God through song.”
The goal, he said, is to get “people to learn the song, then come ready to sing on Sunday and be comfortable doing it.”
One such example was found on FBC Prosper’s Facebook page on a Wednesday in mid-February. Whitworth listed the five songs that were scheduled to be sung the following Sunday, along with links to the tunes on Spotify and Apple Music.
In recent weeks, Northeast Houston Baptist Church and North Richland Hills Baptist Church used social media to alert members of new songs that would be sung in the service.
Joseph R. Crider, dean of the School of Church Music and Worship at Southwestern Seminary, is a champion of the idea.
“I wish more churches would do it,” he said.
Crider sees two major benefits to releasing the song selections ahead of the service.
“One, it helps them engage on Sunday mornings, because they already have those songs in their minds, in their hearts—and they’re able to participate,” Crider said. “They’re not sitting there not wondering, ‘I don’t know the rhythm. I don’t know the melody. I don’t know anything.’ They’ve been hearing it throughout the week, and they are able to engage. Secondly, when the songs are wonderfully rooted in Scripture, I think it’s a beautiful way for people to grow in their spiritual formation.”
The primary role of a worship or music minister, Crider said, is to “facilitate a dialogue between the triune God of the universe and His redeemed people.”
“And anything we can do to help facilitate that I think is really worth it,” he said.
Placing the songs on social media has other benefits, Whitworth said. Members and attendees can use the songs in their daily, personal worship time. They also can use the songs in family worship. Parents, he said, can read a passage of Scripture to their children related to the song and then sing “one of the songs that we’re going to be singing in church on Sunday.” By doing that, family worship and corporate worship are constantly related.
Whitworth says he got the idea from a book by Keith and Kristyn Getty, “Sing!” He chooses artists on Spotify and Apple Music that are biblically sound, he said.
“We’re able to then direct them towards more solid churches or groups that are covering the songs instead of the original groups that put them out that may have bad theology,” he said.
Members, he said, have embraced the idea.
“I’ve seen a steady increase … of people listening to the music and people singing more and more on Sundays,” he said. “I do think that this is helping.”