The Characteristics of a Great “Go-To” Song

by | Sep 25, 2020

A couple days ago, I mentioned to you that we have a “go to” song at church.

We use this song in various cases…

Obviously, after a service where that song is appropriate… But also, just as a general anthem that we sing to the Lord as a church dependent upon him.

So I thought we might take some time to discuss what the characteristics of such a song may be.

Now, this will not be an exhaustive list…

… But these three simple things will give you an idea, to get started, about choosing a “go to” song for your church.


First, of course, this song has to be true.

You will not get very far along in this process if the song you are singing is not true.

So, what could it mean for the song to be untrue?

Well the most obvious example is if this song is not biblical…

There are many songs that are sung in church that are not biblical… Now, that’s not to say that they just talk about things that are just not IN the Bible…

No, I mean they actually contradict the things that are in the Bible!

We won’t go into what those might be… At least not now.

But you should watch out for that, because it happens more often than I’d like to think.

Another obvious one is if it’s just not true to the way the world really is.

If the song does not describe reality or use a parable of some sort that teaches a principle that is true to reality, then the song is not true and should be avoided – especially in the context of church, where truth is taught.


It also helps for the song to be tremendously simple.

This avoids worrying about complex vocal parts, etc., and instead allows the congregation to focus on the adoration of God.

Additionally the musicians should not have to work hard to reproduce this song.

Again, it should be something that flows very easily, is simple to play, is simple to sing, and allows everyone involved to focus on God alone.

Spiritually compelling

Finally, the song should be spiritually compelling. By this I mean that this song should compel the hearts of the people to take action.

Our “go to” song is not always, but most often, used in the context of an invitation after the service.

Again, this is not done in some sort of a “pressure tactic” type of way…

No, not at all.

Rather the idea is to worship God in spirit and in truth, and move to take action if compelled to do so.

Maybe you have sin you need to confess to God.

Maybe you have a need that you need to ask God for.

Maybe there’s a loved one in your life who needs him and you just want to pray for them.

Whatever the need is, the “go to” song should be the kind of spiritually compelling song that allows people to take action and get help for their needs.

One of the things that we teach in Worship By Numbers is the other importance of “getting out of the way” as a musician.

That may sound confusing… But it’s a sound point: the best musicians are the ones who know when not to play, and when to keep it in the background.

Check out the link here to get started for free:

Steve Schramm

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