In a decade of leading Worship, there is no task quite as daunting as planning a Worship set you believe will help God’s people go on a journey with Him. I say daunting because at times it becomes so tempting to “engineer” good worship, and this is a dangerous place to be. People will notice when you are not authentic in your Worship, so it’s crucial that you remain connected to God and allow Him to lead you as you undertake whichever process works for you. Below I’ve detailed one possible way of doing it, but I know there are so many different ways to do this, so I invite comments and would love to hear from you guys as to what it is you do, or comments / suggestions for a new Worship leader? This might be basic for some, or a reminder for others, take from it what you can, and remember to comment below!
Here we go:
Prayer cannot be stressed enough when it comes to preparing a Worship Set. We have no idea as to what God is going to do on the evening, so the only way we can prepare a set which will be relevant and take His people somewhere is by doing it in His strength.
Contact the Service Leader / Minister and find out what the sermon’s theme will be as well as what “special” events are taking place within the service (communion, dedication of teachers etc.) Take these into account as you plan your service and fill them in on your OOS.
Think and Pray through the Theme and Direction
What is the theme for the evening (Mission etc.) or what is the Sermon theme (God’s Greatness over Circumstance). Spend a bit of time in scripture on this theme. Something else to consider is perhaps what God is revealing to you in your quiet time and prayer time with Him i.e. What is God wanting to say to the congregation? What direction is He wanting His people to go in?
We’re now ready to start selecting songs for Worship.
Look realistically at your time and determine how many songs you need for the set. This should be done taking into consideration all of the elements of the worship service respectfully. Remember, Communion, Notices, Collection, Welcome all form part of the Worship, not just songs! Enter all of these on your OOS first, and then try to imagine what would create seamless flow in the service. Too many breaks in the musical worship isn’t generally a good thing, but sometimes is necessary.
Keeping in mind the theme and direction, start selecting songs that fit in with this. If you feel led towards a specific song or lyric, take that song out and put it on the possible pile. Once you’ve selected all of these, pray again and ask God to lead you towards the songs that will best facilitate what He intends to do in Worship, ask the Spirit to guide you. Now go through again, looking at lyrics and also finding a good balance between Celebration and Praise and more Worshipful songs. REMEMBER: We’re taking people on a journey, try to keep that in mind!
Once you have sifted through the songs, try to ascertain which are Celebration and Praise and which are more Worshipful, this is not necessarily fast and slow songs. Look at the lyrics and the music and see where the song is taking God’s people and what it is saying about Him and about them.
Now try to fit them into your OOS, ascertaining what would work well for worship. Some simple tips are starting with a song which lyrically and musically calls people to worship, something which brings them to a place where they remember why they are here.
Keeping in mind that we’re taking people on a journey, one way is to start with Celebration and Praise, coming before God with all that we have and all that we are, our voices, our hands, and then slowly coming to a place where our hearts are fully surrendered to Him in Worship as we are drawn into that intimate place where we have surrendered to God enough to allow Him to work in our hearts and our minds through the word He wants to share with us.
TIP: A good thing to do is to prepare a song for before the sermon which can prepare people for God’s message and which can emphasise the theme, if we have a people totally surrendered to God as they sing Heart of Worship, and the sermon then speaks about the importance of worshipping in truth and not just singing songs to Him, something powerful happens. Similarly, the song after the sermon should be a response to the sermon, this can either be a victorious statement in answer to what God has done in their hearts. It can be a song of commitment whereby they can come before the Lord and say that they will go live out what they have just heard. Or perhaps it is simply a love song whereby they can come before the Lord and thank Him for the message which has just changed their lives. Using the Heart of Worship example, I might select Everyday after the sermon as a way for the people to respond to God and say that Everyday, they will live for Him, and for no one else.
TIP: Try to group songs of the same type, according to their key or their lyrics, this will make it more possible to create flow within your service.
And remember, if you know why you’ve selected the songs you have, then you can share that with the congregation if the Spirit leads you to.
Now that you’ve selected the songs and placed them in your OOS, try to work through your OOS and envision it as if it were happening. Sometimes you realise that there are too many breaks in the flow. Perhaps you realise you’ve left something out, but try to create a flow in your worship set that will give the congregation the opportunity to find intimacy with God.
Ensure that you have assigned every part of Worship to someone so that there is no confusion in the service and make sure that you have prepped them before hand if they are meant to do something on the OOS.
Make sure that you have thought about your prayers. Generally every “good” service should contain prayers of Welcoming, Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication and Prayers for the Offering. Think about who will pray these and what God is doing in the hearts of the congregation.
Now that you’ve worked through all of this, if some scripture has spoken to you during the course of selecting your set, keep it, and maybe share it at the start of the service as a Call To Worship, something which calls God’s people out of who they are and into His presence. This could also be a song.
Tips for the road:
Is the Set Fresh?
What is God saying to your congregation or Youth Group at the moment?
Have you made the focus in every part of the service God?
Will people leave the service having been given the opportunity to encounter Him to the fullest?
Be flexible – the Service Leader has the last say, be prepared to let go of some of what you have prepared, and be prepared to not necessarily do all of the songs that have been practised.
What songs to bring in (Keys and Difficulty – Where is your congregation at?). Writing songs?
Being aware of your congregation!
It’s not about YOUR Fame or what makes you happy, or even about which songs you like and don’t like, it’s all about what would best point people towards God.