I'm sure you'll get a lot of answers for this (past threads on this subject have), but in reality there are no right or wrong answers no matter what some will say. Since you asked for 'your' guidelines I'll stick to what we do. We probably introduce more new material than many here due to a changeover in leader last year, different musicians bringing new material to try out, and the fact that we do more songs than a lot of churches. It's much easier adding something new when it's one of 7 or 8 compared to one of 3 or 4. There are times when we add new material for a specific reason, like Easter, pastor request, or something special coming up. We added a lot of Christmas material in December and did nothing new for Jan or Feb. The wl's spring break was in March so he had time to listen to more stuff and we added some at that time and at Easter. We have a special 'benefit' for the local food bank coming up so we're adding more message songs instead of straight worship the Lord songs for it.
If you're looking at numbers, only once do I recall adding 2 new ones in a week and one of those was familiar to a good chunk of the congregation due to radio play. It's good to reinforce new ones a few times to begin with to get folks familiar with it. It's also probably not a good idea to add new ones too many weeks in a row. Hope that is some help.
There is no right or wrong way to do this, just what works for your church. Here are my guidelines...
1. Play the song before/after the services (CD) a few weeks before introducing it, allow the congregation to become subconsciously 'aware' of the song
2. When I'm ready to introduce it in a service I'll announce about 10mins before service starts, "We're going to be introducing a new song this morning - as you begin to find your seats let us just play through the song for you"
3. When I lead that song during the service i'll repeat the chorus a couple of times first so the church can catch something they can recognise as we move through the song.
4. I'll often try and play the song the next week also, then not the third week... don't want the church to get sick of it too soon. (Sometimes our worship leaders want to have the new song on their next set, and with 3 or 4 leaders we could do a song 3 or 4 weeks in a row - this guideline helps avoid this.)
5. Find out how the congregation are receiving the song. Do they like it, can they sing it, are they worshipping. Don't be afraid to try out new songs and find out they don't work.
I like your points, we have thought of doing some of these but haven't gotten around to it. I especially like 1. above.
Also, I do the same thing as 4. - I always do it twice and then wait a few weeks.
As for 5. , this has been tough. I had a song in our rotation that we really thought would go over, but It has taken about a year and a half (essentially about 6 times for it to really catch on). I don't know what to do with that. I almost took it out of the rotation and now it's a favorite.
Yea, that is the tough one. I guess that as the church changes, different songs become appropriate. If the church has gone through a hard time financially, some members passing away (as in our church at the minute), songs that talk about comfort and peace and God being in control are what the congregation will respond to rather than 'everything is awesome' songs. Who knows, 1 year later when some members have had new babies, a few people have got married and the churches spirits are high then the 'everything is awesome' songs might be more appropriate.
Following on from point 1, there are some guys in our church and I know they love listening to worship music through the week, when they go for a run, drive to work etc etc... Sometimes i'll recommend albums to these guys (Facebook etc), knowing that i'll be introducing some of the songs over the coming months.
As always, there are no right or wrong answers, and these are just my thoughts and opinions.
Our team introduces about 1-2 new songs a month. Some are introduced during our offering time (just the worship team sings the first time), and then we'll do it as a congregation the following week. Some songs are introduced one week, we sing it at the beginning of the service and the end. We'll do it the following week and then take a week off from it. Then we'll do it again the next week. We are a bilingual church, so introducing songs is different here too. We might introduce it in one language and then a month later introduce it in the other language. Every church is different. We've just found what works for us. :)
I like to try to introduce 1-2 per month. We do it during the offering the first week and then I will put it into the set for the next week. Then maybe skip a week and then do it again. Depending on the feedback I get or how I see the congregation reacting to it determines when and how often I will use it in the future. If the band really likes it I will keep in in the mix.
#1: You serve a congregation, not an audience. A large part of your ministry is to teach them the songs. Use the same principles as in teaching anything: too much info (= too many new songs, or too many difficult songs) will lead the people to boredom; they will give up. Too much same thing leads to boredom and a feel of condescension.
#2: With four groups (and flow of musicians between the groups), somehow or other all the groups ought to have access to at least a list of effective, familiar songs they have in common. This could be as simple as saving bulletins from each service and 3-hole punching them into a binder, or as complex as entering titles on a spreadsheet which you can sort by title, theme, weeks of usage, etc. It wouldn't be bad to have pizza together once in a while (I know, the shifts make it impossible for everyone to attend!), at least with representatives from each team, to discuss song selection -- and if the pastor is willing, ask him to be part of this.
#3: Regarding the birth and development of a new song:
Ideally, get each team to sing it for its first three weeks of life with your congregation. Sing it plenty of times the first time around, just like you deep-water a new transplant. If it doesn't fare well the first Sunday, try it again anyway the next; the people may have just been holding back from its call.
I wouldn't require each group to play it exactly the same way (I love artistic freedom); but it would be wise to agree at least on basic feel of the song, and where you put your bridges, repeats, and codas so you don't confuse the people (non-musicians are prone to hear a different rendition as a different song if is too different from the first version).
#4: An older guideline was "no more than a new song a month." With CD and Radio "teaching" songs today, we can do better than that, I think. But watch out for getting so much into newness that there is no room for Old Favorites. In fact, if you sense that Work Spirits are invading from too much teaching new music, sending out some real well-known songs that they could do even if the projector broke, is just good manners.
#5: Play well, sing well to inspire learning (and because you ought to play well). Congregations have an amazing ability to learn, even memorize music that captures their imagination, their heart, their soul.
Overall, then, I'd say "avoid inconsistency and overload", and keep a high level of communication between groups.