Here are the must-ask questions for framing a worship time.
Creating a worship set every week is hard.
Selecting the right songs can feel like a painstaking experience.
When I sit down with our weekend experience team and we begin planning out the upcoming services for the month, we always make sure that everything points to Jesus:
The stories we share
The church announcements
It’s all about Jesus.
We want our weekend experience to create an environment that helps people respond to what God has done in their lives and in the life of our church. Today, I want to share a few questions to think about every time you select songs to create a worship set.
I’ll only touch on things that can apply to any church. It doesn’t matter what your style of worship music is—whether it’s more Elevation Worship and Hillsong, gospel, or choir and orchestra. These questions will help you to focus your worship set and church on Jesus.
1. What Is God Saying?
Philippians 4:6 says to not worry about anything, instead, pray about everything. Before I even step into our service planning meeting, I make sure that throughout the week I’m in prayer and listening for what God is trying to tell me, because we cannot lead people where we have not gone ourselves.
2. What Is Your Pastor Saying?
I serve and listen to God first, but I also follow the vision of my lead pastor. It’s essential to be in step with your pastor and the leadership above you. I always make sure I know what our pastor is teaching about and what direction the service is going.
Here are some questions I like to ask:
How is he going to end his sermon?
Is there room to select a song for a response?
Are we talking about pain or sorrow this week? If so, what worship songs have that theme?
I want the whole service to connect and not feel fragmented. We are purposeful with making sure that every aspect flows and fits together—from the worship, announcements, preaching and the response.
3. Is It Catchy but Also, More Importantly, Deep?
We want people to keep singing the worship songs from our weekend experience throughout the week—when they are at work or dropping their kids off at soccer practice or waiting in line at Starbucks. This means that the songs we select do need to be somewhat catchy, but they first and foremost need to have theological depth, revealing who Jesus is and what he has done for us.
We strive to choose songs that have practical analogies, created to help people understand the love of God or the grace of the Father. We never sing worship songs that do not talk about who Jesus is or what he has done. There are a lot of “fluffy” worship songs with no real meaning, and even some that could be just another pop love song if you replaced the word “Jesus” with something else.
We have a mandate as pastors and worship leaders to choose songs that are theologically deep and point people toward Jesus. Worship should never just be glorified karaoke.
4. What Is God Doing in the Life of Your Church?
What is the sermon series about or what is the message about this week? What has been going on in the life of your church? These are questions that we ask every time we start to put a worship set together.
There is power in singing songs like “It is well with my soul” in a time of pain or loss, “Oceans” in a time of uncertainty, or “Good, Good Father” to remind us of the love of God.
5. Is It Singable?
Choosing singable songs is about more than the key that the song is in—it’s the range of notes in the song. I’ve traveled and led worship at different churches and conferences, and I always find that there are just certain songs that I can hear people singing louder and that’s because those songs are all more singable.
We have to choose songs that everyone can sing—young to old, men and women.
Some songs that I’ve found to be most singable for all demographics are:
“What a Beautiful Name” (Hillsong)
“Good, Good Father” (Tomlin)
“O Come to the Altar” (Elevation Worship)
“Lord I Need You” (Redman)
Most fast worship songs with lots of energy tend to not be as singable because they are typically at the top of your range, and that’s why a lot of your congregation doesn’t sing it loud.
I’m a millennial and have a rather high range, but when I choose songs, I always choose the keys and songs based on what people can sing, not what I sound best in. We don’t want to take away the joy of singing unto the Lord.
6. Does It Tell a Better Story?
When we choose songs, we look at the whole set as one sentence or story. To create a seamless theme, I like to ask these questions:
What’s the theme of each song?
Are we switching up our dynamics throughout the set?
What are the keys and tempos of each song and how can we create seamless transitions between songs—especially the slow songs?
I always try and connect the last two songs so there is no abrupt ending of one and a count off to another. I either make sure both songs are in the same key or a relative key. You want to eliminate as many distractions and transitions during the worship experience as possible.
First posted on Tithe.ly. Used by permission.