WorshipIdeas.com is 17 years old! The first email newsletter went out to about 400 people on February 11, 2002 (in the heyday, right before the blog explosion, the newsletter amassed over 100,000 subscribers. These days it hovers around 30,000.) At the time I was the music director of a church plant of around 200 people who met in an elementary school cafeteria (we eventually purchased a building.)
We set up a complete sound system every week. I played a Yamaha S80 keyboard, we had an electric guitar, bass and Roland V-Club drums (a smaller version of the V-Drums.) Our praise team consisted of 3-6 singers. We’d project song lyrics on a solid color background using PowerPoint (I couldn’t get our projectionist to use images for a year or two, and motion backgrounds were still a novelty.) I’d often beef up our sound with drum loops and tracks using a laptop that was probably 1/10th as powerful as my Samsung Galaxy Note Smartphone, and ran Cakewalk Pro Audio (the precursor to Sonar.)
Here’s the very first WorshipIdeas article from 2002:
Jumpstart Your Worship Planning Creativity
Now that you’ve settled in to 2002, it’s back to the grindstone of weekly worship planning. For churches that don’t follow a liturgical calendar, creating a new worship experience each week can be a daunting and draining task for the worship leader.
Right now, take a moment and ask God to guide you this year. Ask Him to help you as you pick songs and create a flow of worship that will enable your congregation to draw closer to Him.
Before you start planning music, consult your pastor. Does he have an idea of what his sermon will be this week and upcoming weeks? Ask him to give you Scripture texts. He’ll appreciate your willingness to collaborate, and you’ll have themes on which to base your praise sets.
No input from your pastor? Then you’ll have to come up with a theme from scratch.
Determine if anything special is going on this month. Will you have Communion, a baby dedication or holiday? Plan appropriate songs to fit the theme.
Often when I sit down to plan our weekly service I think of something Joe Horness said at a Willow Creek Arts Conference I attended. Before he begins planning, he asks God “What would You like to hear Your people sing this week?” Let God impress your heart with a song. Maybe there’s a new tune you’ve been itching to do or a melody that’s been running through your mind. Or perhaps you remember an old hymn you haven’t sung in ages. This could be the foundation for your set, and you can build songs around this theme.
Still no ideas? Try making a song list. Keep a catalogue of every song your church sings. Organize it by fast songs, medium songs and slow songs. Refer to it when you have worship planning block — which songs haven’t you done in awhile that your congregation would like to sing again? Your church probably knows so many songs that some of them will slip your mind. Your own song list will jog your memory.
>Bottom Line: Protect yourself from worship planning block. Ask God to give you help, consult your pastor for sermon topics, identify any special events for the month, determine if there are any songs on your heart and develop a song list.