Mark Cole lists practical tips for creating great worship services:
1. Pick Great Songs
Picking great songs for your congregation and worship band is one of the most important tasks of a worship leader. Great songs have a sense of God’s Spirit on them. Great worship songs make you want to sing them again and again. Great songs cause your spirit to rise in worship to the Lord. (see my Top 50 List for 2015)
Check out my blog on “12 Keys To Picking Great Songs For Worship“. Here are the main points from that blog:
- Learn to pick great songs not just doable songs.
- One of the tests of a great song is that you catch yourself singing it by yourself.
- Great songs have the Spirit of God resting on them.
- Pick great songs from around the world… not just your favourite band.
- CCLI Top 200 SongSelect List is an invaluable list to choose from.
- Find out who the top writers are and listen and learn from them.
- Keep a balanced repertoire: You need fast, medium and slow tunes.
- Repeat the new songs: I always do new songs three times in the first month.
- Put songs in singable keys: Are you singing them too high or too low? The Rule of D.
- Should you do your original song? Is your song a good-to-great song?
- Does the song work with just a simple acoustic guitar or piano?
- Generally speaking, it’s not a good idea to start or end with a new song.
2. Put Great Songs in a Great Order
I have found that congregation’s often rush to church, just trying to get there on time and are often unfocused on God. One of my jobs is to pick great songs that help get them focused on God as soon as possible. That usually works best by finding an uptempo worship tune that is easy to sing and gets them engaged as soon as possible.
I usually have a half hour to do worship in a Sunday morning service, so for my team, that means five songs. My general rule of thumb is to do two uptempo songs.. often more praise orientated… and often the second song is slightly faster than the first one. Then I do a strong median tempo transition song and then end with two powerful worship songs that are sung directly to God.
This general guideline helps the congregation go from focusing and singing about God to worshipping God directly. It is not meant to be a formula but an overriding time proven way, to help achieve the goal of getting the congregation to focus their hearts and worship on God.
3. Have Great Rehearsals
I normally have two and half hours of band rehearsal for every thirty minutes of worship time. The goal is to get so proficient at doing the music that you do not have to think about the music during the live worship time. You need to get past just performing music to focusing on and worshipping God!
My normal practise is to have a strong, two hour midweek rehearsal (Thursday night is my favourite) and then a forty-five minute rehearsal on Sunday morning. These rehearsal times gives everyone time to learn the music properly and work out any problem areas. (Check out my blog: What I’ve Learned About Running A Worship Band Rehearsal)