Worship Set List Building: 10 Important Tips
(This post is a follow up to Part 1.)
6. Consider your personnel. Is your drummer just getting back into town from a week-long summer camp trip with the youth group? Is your always-competent keyboard player on vacation? Is your experienced guitarist away at a family wedding? If so, this probably isn’t the week to ask their replacements to play an abundance of songs in your set list that are new to them. Knowing your team’s capacity must be a consideration when putting your set list together.
“Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life (experience) bring understanding?” —Job 12:12
7. Consider the length of the songs. If you’re like many worship leaders who prefer to play the same song format as the original recordings, you know that some songs can be 7…8…9 minutes long. So if you have two (or more) of these lengthy songs in your set list, you may be exceeding the amount of time your pastor has designated for worship. And if you’re a worship leader who is known to often “flow” (continue worship and extending the song), you may be putting your pastor in a tough position of having to cut certain announcements, or worse, his/her sermon, just to get everyone out on time. Having a good idea of how long your worship set will separate the experienced worship leader from the beginner.
“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?” —Luke 14:28
8. Know that the songs you’re singing are declarations. Is your church in a season of battle? Dryness? Weariness? Then the songs you choose to have them sing are what they are declaring and prophesying—over themselves—AND your church. Proverbs 18:21 says that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Job 22:28 tells us that we can make a declaration and God will establish it. And Jesus gives us “Authority over all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:19). What does your church need to declare, give life to, and speak death to?
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue...” —Proverbs 18:21
9. Retire Dead Songs. Selecting a set of songs that everyone in the room will like is impossible (but if you know something we don’t, do share). There always seem to be one or two people in the congregation who aren’t participating, or give off body language that they’d rather be fishing. But if you look out and see an over-abundance of those with agitated body language and a mass exodus of folks excusing themselves to the restrooms and lining up at the water fountain during a certain song, that may be an indication that the once powerful song that you’ve had in your set list since 2008 is finally ready to be let out to pasture.
“Sing a new song to the LORD…” —Psalm 91:1
10. Know what “The Song” is. During worship, have you noticed there always seems to be one song that seems to bring breakthrough? A song that seems to get your congregation’s eyes off of their problems and focus on God? A song that simply gets people set free? That’s, “The Song.” While there’s no formal name for this, “The Song” is the song in your worship set that your team needs to know well, play well, and be in tune with you and the Spirit with. And if you’re going to flow, “The Song” is The Song to flow from.
“But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth...” —John 4:23
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