Worship Set List Building: 10 Important Tips
Building a worship set list takes more than choosing your favorite five (or so) songs and sending them out to the worship team. There are several factors that should be taken into consideration.
So with that said, here is part 1 of 10 important tips to consider when building your set list:
1. Pray. It sounds like it may be common sense, but you’d be surprised how many Worship Pastors/Leaders neglect this necessary step. We all get busy with life’s demands, and often our set list gets thrown in as just another thing on our “To-Do” list. But if even Jesus prayed, shouldn’t we?
“…Pray about everything.” —Philippians 4:6b
2. Consider the Sermon Topic. A recent tweet by The Worship Butthead said, “My Pastor is preaching on tithing this Sunday, so he asked the worship team not to sing, ‘Jesus Paid It All.’” Funny…but there’s some truth in this. A well-constructed set list should give doctrinal support (lyrically) to what is about to preached. It also wouldn’t hurt to ask the speaker if they have a particular song(s) they’d like to hear. Sometimes they may want a particular song to be played; not so much because it supports their message, but because it simply stirs their spirit.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a good worker who has no need to be ashamed, and who correctly explains the Word of Truth.” —2 Timothy 2:15
3. Have a Gathering Song. Not sure what a gathering song is? Chances are, your Pastor does. Most Pastors want an opening song that gathers and brings unity to the congregation. Think of it like the home crowd at a sporting event. Though people in the arena come from all walks of life, the camaraderie that they experience — merely because of their favorite team, unifies everyone. In the same way, a well-chosen gathering song is a great way to unite people in one common cause: celebrating God for what He has done!
“Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” —2 Corinthians 13:11
4. Song Placement. Praise songs are fast and worship songs are slow, right? Well, not exactly. Praise, in its simplest form, is celebrating God for what He has done. Worship is honoring God for Who He is. But with this said, placement of song styles (tempo, feel, etc.) is crucial. The songs in a well-organized worship set should flow easily from song to song. Before issuing the set list to your team, listen to the songs back-to-back. A good rule of thumb is to place two upbeat/celebratory songs in slots one and two of the worship set list. Song three is a somewhat slower, transitional song. Song four is slower yet, and more lyrically reflective (of God), and song five as they say, “Brings it home”, or in other words, is a heart-felt song that compels listeners to worship God for Who He is.
“Wise people think before they act...” —Proverbs 13:16
5. Be Careful with Minor Keys. Some of the greatest songs ever written were done so in minor keys. Minor keys can tug on the listener’s heart and touch people in a special way. But having too many minor keys in your set list can tend to bring a depressing effect to the room. Also be careful with your placement (within the set list) of your minor key song(s). If you want your first song to be a joyful gathering song, you’ll want to give careful consideration before you insert a minor key song for the first song your congregation hears.
“A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.” —Proverbs 22:3
Be sure to catch part two in our next post. To make sure you don’t miss any of our upcoming posts, subscribe on this page.
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