One role for the worship leader is to select the songs for worship.
We took a quick poll in the Worship Leader Toolbox Facebook Group to see how worship leaders go about selecting songs. Some do it alone, others choose songs with their pastor, others choose it with a small team of band members.
Some choose week by week, others plan ahead a few weeks.
Probably most people do a combination of these styles – getting input, choosing songs, conferring with the pastor, and then being flexible as the worship service approaches to make a change if needed.
In any case, here are five basic aspects of song selection for your church.
The Message / Scripture / Theme
If you have the privilege of hearing what the message is about in advance, seek to choose at least a couple of songs that may help support it. If you’re unclear of the direction or find it difficult to choose songs to fit, then go with the common themes of worship, praise, Jesus, hope, grace and others. When in doubt, choose songs that help people sing to God and give praise and glory to him.
Ability Of Team Members
When selecting songs, good leaders take into account the ability of their team members. Stretching your team is good, but you want the songs you choose to sound good with the gifts, skills, instrumental and vocal combinations for that day. It’s better to have great-sounding simple songs than terrible-sounding complicated songs.
Heart Of The Congregation
Where is the heart of your church? Worship leaders want to help move their people to new songs, new ways of outward expression of worship and deeper commitment in worship, but don’t advance past their heart for worship. There have been times when what seems like an old, overdone and outdated song has been just the answer for the moment. People fall into a familiar place where they can worship without restraint – they know it and it’s their speed and style as they worship. New songs are good too, but think about your congregation as you choose them. Don’t base it solely on the popular worship charts.
Where God Is Inspiring You
What God is doing in your life may be the catalyst for a new song or a particular song in worship. Is there some song that has been coming to mind, rolling through your head or inspiring you lately? That’s probably a good one to choose for a Sunday coming up. Studying scripture and listening to worship music is a good start to allowing God to inspire you. You may also be led and inspired to write a song for your church. Whatever the case, a song being led by a team of people who is enthusiastic about the song and really inspired to lead it will be contagious.
Goal: The Church Singing
Grant Norsworthy shares a powerful vision for the worship team who should have one goal: help the congregation sing. When the goal of the worship team is for the congregation to sing, song selection takes on a deeper purpose. You want to choose songs that are singable, in good keys, and inspiring. You want to choose songs that are a mix of familiar, newer and various styles. You take time to painstakingly choose so you can accomplish one of the primary goals of the worship leader: to help the church sing. Incidentally, this goal also helps in other areas of your ministry, such as issues of volume (either with the band or the audio system), style of team members’ singing and paying attention to the details like the order of lyrics on the presentation screens. When the whole band is on the same page with this goal, things become more clear.