Natural Progression in Worship Sets; Leading Worship, 011

Hey worship leader chums & co,

I feel continually blessed that I am able to share so much of my heart with you. The discipline of writing week after week actually makes me keenly alert to what is going on around me, and for that I am thankful. Of course I always feel honored, so greatly honored, to have been entrusted by the Lord with the role of leading worship. There are so many more talented, so many more skilled – and then there’s me, a shining example of how God absolutely delights in employing the weak for His glory. The expression is true, then, that leading worship is merely one poor man bringing another poor man to the place he received bread.

Well. Today, I want to share a bit of what I have learned about creating a natural “progression” in our worship sets.

When you bump into a friend at a coffee shop, I can outline roughly how your conversation will go. Let’s see.. First, you’ll each exchange a happy hello, followed by a “how are you” or “what’s going on” or the like. Then you may ask how he is enjoying work, or how his girlfriend is doing, or what his plans are for the weekend. From there, depending on the length of time, conversation will gradually move away from the general and onto the personal.

Rarely do you begin a conversation with a friend by saying, “Tell me about your parents’ divorce” without first at least saying, “Hey! What’s up?”

Something I have found is that organizing a worship set is similar in several regards.

The people in our churches are coming in through the doors with all sorts of things on their minds. There will be a single mom who feels guilty about the relief that comes with dropping her kids off at the church nursery. There will be a young professional excited about her raise at work. There will be an elderly man who feels too old for God to use him. There will be a couple struggling to conceive and ashamed to admit it. There will be tension between a set of parents and their moody teenager.

The best way in our worship sets to get each of these very different people on the same page with God is to give them the opportunity to say “hello” to Him, like in a conversation. Allow people the chance to begin in the “outer courts” (where they currently are) and slowly move inward.

Choose a song that most everyone knows, addresses some general truths, and unites people to focus on Christ. After the first song, picture the rest of the set like a funnel. Move from general to personal at a pace that you feel appropriate.

To give you an idea, this is the worship set we did at Transit recently:

  1. God is Here – the perfect “hello” song; announces that God is with His people, and asks that we recognize this
  2. Open Up the Heavens – driving us to the personal part of the worship set
  3. Sinking Deep – getting pretty personal
  4. You Are For Me – super intimate!
Do you see the natural progression? To begin this worship set with “You Are For Me” may well be a mistake because it’s way too intimate and deep to start with!
Every song we choose, from the fast songs to the slow songs, from the ‘general’ to the ‘personal,’ is exceedingly important because it plays a role in the larger worship set. Surely “You Are For Me” is no more or less important than “God is Here;” they simply play different roles in a worship service.
Friends, I hope this makes sense to you! I know this has been a valuable thought process for me as I prayerfully and carefully construct worship sets. If this resonates with you, or if you have some additional thoughts, please jot them down below so we can all benefit!
Peace be with you!


5 thoughts on “Natural Progression in Worship Sets; Leading Worship, 011

  1. Honestly brother, I think this is sad. The problem is we've made worship about Sunday morning. We just gotta get to that place where we can connect with God. We should be connected with Him constantly. He is in us and we are in Him. Worship is not a formula and it's certainly not about how I feel or what He can do for me. I lead worship too. My only focus is to minister to Him. When His presence is honored and desired, that Presence will take care of what the people need.

  2. Hey Wes, thanks for your feedback. I admire that you are so passionate about what you do and who you do it for. Certainly what I have mentioned is not the only way to go about nailing down a song set for corporate worship. How do you & your team go about choosing songs and which order they will go in?

  3. I don't feel like there's enough time or space for me to say everything I have in my heart about worship. I'm 48 years old, so I've seen a lot of change in what we call worship. Firstly worship is not about Sunday mornings. It's a lifestyle. What the Jews called “Halak”. So my walk with Him is worship. What I do on Sunday morning or at a youth event or at a 24 hour worship event is just fruit that comes from that. It has to. I say that to say this. There is no difference in how I lead from setting to setting. I don't really think of leading as a set. That sounds too much like performance to me. Forgive me if it sounds like I'm criticizing you, I'm not. My band practices regularly, learning new songs, some original some not. As we approach an event we pray about what songs to do and leave it before the Lord. Most of the time I'm not completely certain how many or which ones we will do until we start. But when we start we just pour out our hearts to Him. Sorry if that was wordy. I'm old and long winded.

  4. Hey again, I appreciate your thoughts, and I hope to always grow from my interactions with fellow worship leaders. You may find an older post of mine, “What is Worship?” helpful in supplying some context:

    Blessings on you, your team, & your church, Wes! I look forward to hearing from you on future blog posts. And if you have a blog or some venue for sharing your thoughts, please leave it below – I'm sure other readers may find it informative!

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