10 Steps to Picking Songs for Your Worship Service
It’s time to sit down and work out a plan for the worship portion of this Sunday’s church service. As a worship leader your job is to guide a congregation into the presence of God in order to express His worthiness. So where do you begin in selecting just the right music to accomplish this principle task?
We have included ten important steps in picking out an appropriate mix of songs for your worship service:
1. Pray and seek God’s guidance
Spend time waiting on the Lord in the days and hours leading up to corporate worship, so that God can prepare hearts for what He wants to communicate. He will help with the song choice when the time is made to listen.
2. Rehearse the true meaning of worship
“The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it” (Psalm 24:1). We worship God to acknowledge His worth and give Him the glory due His name. God initiates worship by revelation of Himself and promises to commune with those who respond. Having the right mind about worship is essential in constructing a meaningful worship experience.
3. Choose songs that are biblically accurate
Scripture says to “worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23). Ignorance and true worship are incompatible. It is important to know the God you worship, therefore immerse yourself in the scripture that reveals Him. This doesn’t mean that every song has to quote the written word of God, but the content should square with what the Bible says about Him. Be sure that the music you select rightly represents the truth of who He is, not the mere image of who He is thought to be.
4. Choose songs that prepare
Just like a farmer who plows the hard earth to sow seed, a key responsibility of a worship leader is to spend time breaking up the fallow ground of the worshiper’s heart. In the perfect world (or the perfect church, for that matter) your congregation would arrive prayed up, joyful, expectant, and with ready hearts to receive from God’s word. Certainly some people will do that kind of heart work, but chances are most people are still recovering from a hectic work week. Many others find the morning exercise of rushing around and getting the family to church on time is preparation enough for an hour of peace from the chaos. Lead them from the cares of the day, to the greatness of God.
5. Select songs which are relevant.
Don’t be afraid to teach a new song that really expresses what God is doing in the greater body of Christ –one with a fresh perspective, but don’t overwhelm them by teaching too many songs at one time. One at a time is a good rule of thumb. Or dust off an old favorite as a reminder of a well-known truth; try it in a new style or musical arrangement in order to breathe new life into it.
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6. Choose God-centered songs over “Me” songs
There’s certainly a place for songs that say we’re going to do this or that, but we are primarily there to worship God in the person of Jesus Christ. Let’s celebrate who He is, what He has done and what He is still doing through His Holy Spirit. God will not share His glory with another and we should sing songs that call attention to His glory (not ours).
7. Support a theme
What has God been speaking to you and to your church? Is it a time of joy and celebration or mourning or somewhere in between? It’s always a good idea to run things by your lead pastor and work as a team. Ask what this week’s message will be. Also, the pastors will most likely be in tune with what the church is going through. Does the church need: hope, joy, healing, reconciliation, or understanding? Support the theme you have chosen, but don’t be bound by it.
8. Choose songs that Invite participation
You can have the most polished, amazing band and hot vocals, but if your style or song choice doesn’t invite everyone to get involved what good is it? It is not a concert. Enjoy the Lord in front of them and they will want to get involved. Make it easy to do so by choosing songs that are sing-able. Leave room by not filling every space with instrumentation and vocals, then people will naturally feel more comfortable and willing to sing along. Worship is not a spectator sport.
9. Evaluate the setting
The environment will have an impact on the songs you select. Will the music you are considering perform well in a small group, or is it best to be delivered to a larger audience? Can it be lead by one person or will it be best delivered by a team?
10. Look for songs with a clear message
The message of the song must be clear and appropriate without creating monotony. For a younger group, make sure the songs use words that are understood and appropriate to their age.