A worship Leader who understands what it means to truly worship God and to effectively usher God’s people into His presence, is the kind of leader who can bring others into a place where they can encounter God for themselves.

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Arranging songs in the set list requires a lot of focus since there are a lot of things to consider when you plan and prepare for a worship set. There are times that worship leaders force the congregation to sing or worship even though their hearts are not in tune or ready. Because of this, worshipers are also forced to endure the time for worship.

Worship set list must have a continuity, a flow, a connection from one song to another as it creates a bigger picture that draws us to Jesus Christ. By this, worship leaders can create an environment where people can follow easily.

Theme

Worship is like a journey and it’s the worship leaders’ job to lead us into that journey. As worship leaders, grouping songs by theme is the craft that we need to understand and learn. We are helping them build the connection of worship to God, doing this, help them understand what they are singing or for whom they are singing.  Hence, it is us – worship leaders who should understand first the key message of the preacher and prepare the table for the congregation to feast the Word. Songs must be weaved together into a story that tells the theme of the message so that the congregation may have the first grasp of what the message is all about.

Style

One of the goals of worship leading is to engage the congregation into a Spirit-filled worship, hence, music must flow smoothly. This means that the songs in your set-list must have the same style but if one will put 2 styles in one set-list, he must be able to weaved the songs in a musical transition that will still engage the congregation into worship. If momentum is already built thematically then it must also be built musically. 

Genres

It is always important to identify your congregation to cater everyone using different genres that will make them sing and will still focus their attention to God. Let’s face the fact that not all in the congregation were born in one generation, there are people who love country music because they were born in the time when country music was the anthem; There are also people who love hymns because of their conservative background; There are also people who love short choruses and early contemporary music because they were exposed to it in early and late 90’s; And here goes the millenials who love electronically digitalized music because of technology. 

It is not that we will compromise biblical truths just to adjust our position in preparing set-list and leading worship, what I mean to say is that this must also be a factor to cater everyone in the congregation during worship service. Choose songs that adheres biblically as well as caters the congregation that will help them connect to God.

Space

I have attended a number of church services where the worship team has technically followed the original sequence of songs including the instrumental adlibs, riffs, waaa guitar sound, drum rolls and even vocals. I am not saying it is wrong but worship must be spontaneously led by the Holy Spirit and not limited to how-many-times-are-we-going-to-sing-the-chorus or after-chorus-we-should-play-the-instrumental. Worship leaders and Instrumentalists must be flexible enough to do changes real time (while worshiping) that is why it is also important to know the keys, the transitions, the dynamics and many more. Let’s give space for the Holy Spirit to move in the room because it is not all about the technicalities and whoever is standing in the platform, it is about our whole being getting connected to God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

There are also people in the congregation who do not only want to sing, but also want to sing in their own words giving praise to God, others want to pray and raise their hands in worship and others want to declare scriptures while you lead them. Give them space to  do all these and be actively engage in the presence of God.

Medleys

I love medleys, they give me an opportunity to lead people in continuity. When preparing set-list with medleys, you need to ask, “How can this song flow into another?” or “Does the main idea of the previous song segue to another?”

This is a skill that needs to be developed not only for worship leaders but also for instrumentalists, because momentum must be maintained during worship service. If it is not maintained then people will easily disengage and will be distracted and out of focus.

Understanding medleys means knowing the different chord keys and its families. Keys can be easily identified if you memorize the family chords, moving from one key to another must be done while keeping the momentum for the worshipers not to be distracted.

Tip: learn to identify the fifth chord to open a song from another.

Transitions

When weaving songs together you need to consider the musical elements of each song. Say for example after careful scrutiny you really cannot make 2 songs be sung in one key, but you still want to make it appear like it is in a medley; If you ended up from key of D and the next song is in the key of E open it up using the fifth chord in the same tempo to prepare the vocals and the worship leader. Each member of the worship team should pay attention to what is going on during worship and prepare for real time changes, hence, one should be flexible. As I mentioned earlier, do not box yourself to sound like the original recording of the song.

Transitions must engage the congregation, encourage participation, and invoke love that move to intimacy with God.

Lastly, do practices and complete your preparations but do not focus to it, to the point that you would be missing the foundation of worship… The Heart.

2 thoughts on “The Art of Worship Leading

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