One of the biggest challenges that worship leaders face is the ability to put together set lists for a worship service that provides a non-distracting experience for congregants. It’s easy to get into a rut or routine that seems to “get the job done,” but doesn’t inspire passion, creativity or a real sense of encounter.
The first step to creating a flow in worship is prayer. Now, I just heard everyone reading this column experience an “I could have had a V-8” moment. But seriously, one of the fundamental keys for worship leaders who are successful in facilitating “God moments” through their leadership is a basic understanding that worship and prayer are interconnected. I would suggest that worship is our prayers set to music, and worship songs are sung prayers. I think of the songs as prayer requests.
Some questions you need to ask
1. What life circumstances are dominating the conversations of people in your congregation? If you have a number of families losing their homes due to the recession, it may not be appropriate to sing a happy song.
Most worship leaders do not know how to effectively connect the musical part of the service with the lives of the people they are leading. The focus is on providing an “experience” instead of facilitating an “encounter.”
That is the difference between entertainment and ministry. Entertainment wants everyone to have a particular “experience” that is programmed for effect. Ministry is focused on people having a transformational “encounter” with God.
2. What message is consistent with the season of life for your congregation? New churches are filled with excitement, but older churches may be concerned about commitment. Young believers are trying to sort out if their faith is real. Seasoned saints are dealing with trying to recapture the excitement of the past. What is the overall message or “prayer” that captures the heartbeat of the congregation you are connected to?
The message in your song selection needs to fit the season of life your congregation is in. One of the biggest sources of frustration occurs when someone wants to change “the style” to appeal to a younger audience, and in doing so ignores the message. People don’t relate and they begin complaining.
3. What scriptures are being taught? There are some that believe that the pastor must stay in his or her lane and the worship leader must stay in his or her lane and never shall the two meet. In fact it’s almost a bragging point to say, “Wow, the worship and the message really flowed together this morning. I know the pastor and worship leader never talk, so that was really the Lord!” No, it was an accident.
Worship is an art form that gives voice to the Word of God. Our song selection should reflect the scriptures that the people are being taught through sermons or Bible studies.
4. What is happening inside of you? We forget that we are worshippers before we are worship leaders. If something doesn’t impact our lives personally, then how can we expect others to be impacted by it? I don’t use songs that I personally don’t connect with. It’s important that I not only believe in what I’m singing or “praying” to God, but that I’m also believable to others.
In our next issue we will discuss the relationship between keys and tempo in creating set lists that flow in worship.