Churches have more digital music available now than at any time in history


Worship leaders meet to discuss issues they're facing in ministry.

By Aaron Wilson

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- When Dean Belton began serving as a worship leader at a small South Mississippi church, he was excited for the role but nervous about the lack of resources that greeted him in the congregation of around 150 members. There weren’t many musicians at the church, and the few volunteers he did have said they weren’t comfortable playing songs they were unfamiliar with.

“I was lost and didn’t know where to begin,” recalled Belton. “One of my first thoughts was to give Lifeway Christian Resources a call. I simply told them, ‘This is where I am. This is what I have. What can I do?’”

Belton said one of the biggest game changers was discovering, a tool that allowed him to supplement the specific music and voices he needed for leading worship.

“It worked so well and helped the congregation adapt to new styles and songs,” said Belton. “It really changed the way our church did worship.”

Worship during and after a pandemic

Belton’s experience working with limited resources is a common dilemma for many worship pastors who are often asked to make much out of little. This has become a heightened issue during the pandemic when worship volunteers and resources are stretched thin due to quarantines and other precautions.

Add to this the challenge that leaders are also finding their musicians and singers out of practice due to an extended season of virtual services in which some churches chose to livestream only the sermon. This is a situation in which digital resources can serve worship leaders, says Kenny Lamm, senior consultant for the worship and music team at the North Carolina Baptist State Convention.

“I work with churches that have limited musician resources—from having no one to play any instruments to churches striving to have a worship band but are missing some key instruments,” said Lamm. “ has the solution for both situations from having backing tracks that can be used in worship—supplying all the needed instruments—to multi-tracks to fill in missing instruments in a live situation. Being able to purchase and download music a la carte allows worship leaders to buy only what they need, making it an affordable resource for churches.”

Solutions for moving forward

Because every church’s worship needs are different, Lifeway Worship aims for flexibility in its pick-and-choose digital options and is committed to bolstering its online library, which offers around 5,000 titles and is one of the largest downloadable Christian song catalogs available today.

“Lifeway Worship is developing more digital music content right now than at any time in our history to meet the unique needs of churches during this unusual season of ministry,” said Brian Brown, Lifeway Worship director. “We continue to release new song resources at specifically designed for praise teams and praise bands.”

Brown said Lifeway Worship is also releasing more digital music for choirs in 2022, including a new digital choral collection and several new digital anthems for choirs. Lifeway also has Easter 2022 musicals and anthems scheduled for release and a new Christmas musical from Phil Barfoot on the way. Additionally, also offers more than 200 Spanish-language songs, making it one of the most extensive digital music resources for Hispanic congregations.

“As churches chart what’s next in their music ministries, they are recognizing the flexibility that digital music resources provide,” said Brown. “Our goal is to come alongside these churches as they move into this new season with a wide variety of digital content for ministries of every size.

“Over the next year, we will be meeting with church music leaders across the country to learn more about the challenges they are facing,” said Brown, “so we can continue to design the types of trustworthy training and content they need to fuel their music ministries.”

Christian music, Dean Belton, Digital worship, LifeWay