Do you personally like the music you find most effective for leading worship?
To what degree is your attraction to the music a criterion for selecting it for the congregation?
Do you lead in styles you don't particularly care for, and to what degree do you find yourself growing to love the music you once didn't like? Is growing to like a song a regular process in your life?
Did the conflict of personal taste with community taste ever produce a crisis in your life, and how was it resolved, or was it resolved, and how did you grow from that?
I got it right away, but then again being normal is not normally my normal way of being.
Hey, you're finding out some good stuff, Greg!
Sterile is great for band-aids and cats, but not much more. Kudos to your folks for going with something alive. Duke Ellikngton did this thing called "It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got that Swing." When I saw the title it seemed to say, "My music is best, phooey on yours"; but when I sang it, and considered that Ellington was a master of many styles, I realized that what he was looking for in the music was life, in this case a swing that really swung, not just sorta swinging but ba-dop be-bop dop da-WOW!!! swinging.
You mention the "curse" part of enjoying a variety of music. Yes, I've sung more esoteric things that seemed to reach maybe one or two people. But then again, maybe those needed to be reached that day and it was all right if everyone else was mystified or bored for a minute. Sometimes I think we are too terrified of being bored or non-entertained in church, and that deprives us of as richer experience.
I seem to be getting an interesting vibe here, that we might be amenable (good church word) to leading a song we don't care for if we can tweak the words or the style to improve theology or musical taste. The classic example is of redoing the background of an old hymn (and maybe twitching the ends of the melody a bit) and turn all the 3/4 into 4/4 so the drummer can participate. In my experience, older people generally don't mind this -- they've been used to hearing these songs on organ, on piano, a cappella, all sorts of ways -- in fact, they welcome a fresh version.
Anybody going to bite on the question about crisis, or do I just live a more exciting life than you? (or are such crises too close to home in a public discussion?)
Crises - Once or twice I've found I could play certain songs (as a guitarist) because of their awfulness, and tried to minimise what I had to do musically so I could drop out. As the one heading up worship now I can just say "that won't fit for us" if there isn't a clear and distinct reason one can pin it on. I'd try to avoid doing so as much as possible because I want participation from everyone. But sometimes it's a little like someone wanting to put salt in coffee in place of sugar - even though the individual elements are OK in themselves, you just really need to make sure it doesn't happen for everyone's good.
There are quite a few songs for which it is widely known in our church that, "Daniel doesn't like that one". There is one we'll be playing tomorrow, which I never choose but which is occasionally pressed upon me (it's our curate's last day... how could I refuse?). If I said it's a lively song, including the names of several different Old Testament characters and with a generally apocolyptic theme in the chorus of trumpet calls and clouds, but (as far as I'm concerned) totally bereft of any actual meaning, you might guess the song. But, the congregation love it. It has got a good tune, it's lively, it's fun to sing, and it's got many of the right words in it (though not necessarily in the right order).
Conclusion: for the most part, our church folk don't really think too hard about what they're singing, and they certainly don't spend any time worrying about whether it makes much sense or not.
But, since they remember the songs, I sort of feel it's important to feed them good stuff, not necessarily just the popular stuff....
So, in practice, I make a bit of a joke of it. I let them know which songs I don't like, and I tell them why. I over-act the grump, so they can make fun of me.... it seems like a fair arrangement.
Crisis.... hmmmm the closest thing we got to a crisis was where our vicar suggested a song once, and I thought, "I just can't play this, it's AWFUL". Trouble is, it turned out it was one of his real favourites, one that was sung a lot during his formative years as a Christian. So, I played the song to others in the group. They agreed it was awful. In the end, I had to insist on not playing it...
Anyhow, reading the other responses, it's nice to know I'm not alone.
There is an interesting article I found once, written by the author of a song involving dry bones and cloud-borne appearances, that might help make a particular song acceptable. However hell hath no fury like a chap with a good argument where the reason has been removed, so maybe it's much more fun to carry on.
I have a good friend who claimed he would rather stick pins in his eyes than sing about trees clapping their hands etc. Taste is a curious thing. I've also struggled with songs that have trivialised (or seemed to) pain and suffering, although some of that is down to the emotions conveyed by recycling WWII era "we'll be all right in the end" musical cliches.
That is funny, since God inspired a songwriter with that metaphor about the trees clapping their hands (which any child can observe on a windy day), and that song has survived 3,000 (thousand) years. Perhaps your friend doesn't want to become a child again (there are a lot of good reasons for such a wish, but Jesus approved of it heartily).
There I go on a rant again... but I just don't get this thing of contemporary worship being so sophisticated and serrrrioooooouss today. Are we afraid to let our guard down?
I have a good friend who claimed he would rather stick pins in his eyes than sing about trees clapping their hands etc
Ah, the Stewart Daurmann classic from Isa 55.
He has written some interesting and unique tunes over the years. That one goes back about 40. We are currently doing his "Blessed be the Lord" which is rhythmically and melodically unlike any other song I know.
CCLI has not released anything but a "sample" of the lyrics -- not even a 30-second preview, and no YouTubes that I have googled yield this song. Wish I could hear it.
I really like both of these. "Trees of the Field" is an old favorite with me (I know it as "You Shall Go Out with Joy", Isaiah 60 or so, a Scripture I've attempted many times with nothing near the joy or simplicity of this tune. I'm in a Methodist church now, and since they are culturally "sensitive" you can actually sing Messianic-style songs on occasion, not always true in a world that seems to relegate them to the 20th century. I am very fond of clarinet obbligatos and the vigorous style of singing found in "Blessed Be the Lord". Stylistically, I feel I am in the world of "Fiddler on the Roof", and it is a music full of very basic human joy.
Here are some Psalms I've written in a similar vein. Enjoy!