Thoughts on Building a Worship Set List
By Zach Lowrie
Worship Pastor, Christian Center Brussels
There is no doubt in my mind that songs are powerful, music is powerful. Everyone has a preference, or a favorite type or style of music. Whether it be country, gospel, metal, indie, rock n roll, or just adult contemporary, we all have an attraction to certain music. (Even now, as I write this, I am listening to some of my favorite style of music from a band called Loscil. This particular genre sparks creativity and thinking in my brain.)
Choosing songs for your worship set can be one of the trickiest parts of the job for worship leaders. These days EVERYONE has access to good music and EVERYONE is vocal about what good music is.
Regardless of our choice of style, or what we listen to during the week, when we meet together in a corporate setting, our goal is to choose songs that enable our congregations to worship in one accord.
Below, I’d like to share some things I think through as I build a worship set list.
Tip #1: Make This A Top Priority
Serving as a pastor in a fairly large international church, building a set list is a task that requires focus and effort. It’s important and should never be a wham-bam-thrown-together-at-the-last-minute task.
Tip #2: Give God Time To Speak
One of the major things I had to shift in my thinking was the role of worship in church. I personally do not believe worship is a warm-up to the preaching. I believe God speaks to people personally, one-on-one during the singing portion of any church service or gathering.
You really must treat it this way. Which means, you see God wanting to say something, or go somewhere spiritually with the individual. Our song sets need to allow for this.
Think about the kind of conversations you have with people. Would you speak and move on to another topic before giving that person time to respond? Try this with a good friend: begin the conversation and either change the subject or move on without letting them get a word in. What happens? Isn’t this what we’re doing to God when we don’t give Him time to speak?
Tip #3: Focus on the Message of the Song
Another tip would be to look for a message in the songs you choose to sing. One of my practices, in preparation for a song list, is to spend 30-45 minutes going over songs from a general list of approved songs for Sunday morning worship.
I will play and sing these songs and then keep the ones that resonate with my heart. After I finish this, I take these songs and look for a theme or a message to what God might be saying to me. God uses leaders to speak to His people; God will speak to worship leaders as they choose the songs in order for those songs to speak to the congregation.
Be flexible, be teachable, be open to suggestion and you will find God doing things in worship that He has never done before.