UK worship leader Andy John Smith talks about selecting songs for your praise set:
1. Choose songs that suit the context.
It may seem obvious, but you should choose worship songs people will enjoy singing in the context in which you are leading. Are you leading worship at a youth event or in an old folks complex? Are you visiting a prison or playing for a wedding where there will be many visitors in attendance? I have lead worship in all these contexts and a few more, including: prayer gatherings, conferences and city-wide ecumenical events. It may be your regular Sunday service, but in each case think about the sort of songs that the people will be familiar with and will connect to. If there are lots of visitors who are not used to church, a hymn like Amazing Grace may be accessible to them for example.
2. Is there a theme?
Knowing the theme to the service, or the bible passage the preacher will be using, can be a great help in focusing on worship song choice. But remember that you are not leading people to a theme about God, but to God Himself, so getting the balance right is important. If you don’t get this information given to you, there is an opportunity for you to spend time talking with your pastor or vicar. Ask them how God is leading them in this season of church life and look to include songs that serve their vision.
3. Listen to the Holy Spirit.
I always pray and ask for the Holy Spirit’s help. I usually get a sense of one song that will be important in the service, then I fit other songs around that song. For some this may sound a bit mystical and mysterious, however everyone can hear from God in this way. We just need to be still and persevere in listening. It’s wonderful, when you choose a song that fits perfectly with the message of the sermon, especially when you didn’t even know what the theme would be. It also is a great encouragement for the preacher too!