One of the many questions I receive as the Worship and Music Catalyst is how should one pick songs for congregational singing? It's a great question and almost always I give this quick and easy answer.
Pick songs that are familiar. People love to sing what they know. I often ask someone, how long does it take for the average person in your congregation to learn a song well enough to sing it "by heart". We all know when a song is so deep in our heart, that we almost don't have to think about it as we offer it in worship to the Lord.
I read a book one time that mentioned people have to hear a song "17" times before they actually know it well enough to communicate it. When I am planning worship, I often try to think of songs I know the congregation can sing to the Lord because it comes from the depth of their hearts. A song they know well.
It's exciting to attend a sporting event, and a popular song starts playing from over 30 years ago. People stand and instantly engage themselves because of familiarity. I think it should be the same in church. Make sure that the majority of your congregational songs are familiar to those who attend on a regular basis. Help new songs become familiar by repeating and teaching them over and over.
We love to sing what we know, so do all we can to help as a leader of worship.
I am the Worship & Music Catalyst for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.