Worship Planning: Song Types

Hoss Hughes on selecting songs and organizing your set list.

There’s many creative ways to plan the music for any worship service: drawing songs out of a hat, throwing darts at your pile of sheet music, singing whatever feels good on Sunday morning and hoping the band can keep up. As worship leaders, I think we sometimes get exasperated by the week-in, week-out task of being purposeful in our worship planning and sometimes resort to the “throw it at the wall and see if it sticks” mentality. But there are some basics that we sometimes have to revisit to make sure we are giving our congregations every opportunity to connect with God.

Getting beyond the music

I sometimes fall into the trap of placing songs within a service because I know the music will sound good in that situation and everything will “flow”. But I need to slow down and think about what Joe Churchgoer (who might not be involved in church like I am…who might be going through a hard time in his walk with Jesus) will be hearing when he comes into service AND what I want God to do in the short time we have.

When it comes down to it, there are three different types of worship songs and how I organize those types of songs can increase (or decrease) the likelihood that true worship is achieved. I think these song types are so important that they should all have some representation in each service I plan.

Songs of Invitation

Since most ministry leaders are at their churches 24/7 (or so it seems), it’s easy to forget that people have had to deal with a week’s worth of berating bosses, looming deadlines, family struggles, etc. We expect them to show up and immediately be transported to this intimate place of worship with God with little to no preparation. But we are table setters. We show the bountiful feast that is in store and invite them to partake. In addition, we can invite God to reveal Himself to us. These songs are best used at the very beginning of worship or perhaps the beginning of a communion.

Some Favorites: Awakening (Hillsong United), Presence (Newsboys), Abide With Me (Indelible Grace)

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