Choosing Songs For Your #SundaySetlists

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How do you go about choosing songs for your Sunday Setlists?

Some people throw darts at their master song list. Some people agonize over musical transitions. And still others string together themes based on the pastor’s sermon topics for the week.

Ryan over at I Am An Offering offers some great tips on choosing songs each week. One of my favorite tips that he shares is asking yourself “Will the Songs be Sung by all Generations?”

I know that’s an oft neglected thought in our rock it out, melt faces, power set worship music culture, but it’s a good thought. Regardless of the stylistic preferences of our worship teams and/or congregations, we should really put a lot of thought into creating an environment of worship where people of all ages connect.

Different folks achieve this in different ways, so we’re not suggesting one way that works every time, but encouraging you to ponder your own circumstances and consider whether you’re adequately “respecting” those that might not make up the majority of your congregation.

Ben, over at AllAboutWorship.com shares this insight: “Does the song cause the singer to sing about God or to God? (In other words, is it Horizontal (about) or Vertical (to) worship?)

Categorizing songs in these two categories can help you pick out the right songs for specific moments in your Sunday Setlists. A song like Amazing Grace is probably best classified as horizontal, singing about God. Where as a song like How Great Thou Art is probably best classified as singing to God.

This isn’t a set rule, but I find great worship sets typically end with moments that are more vertical. Now this is definitely not set in stone, and there’s always a time to switch things up. But it seems as we enter deeper into the encounter of worshiping God, that our focus shifts from us to Him, and what better way to craft a setlist than to have songs that also move along that journey as well.

Junjie over at InvisibleWorshipMusician.com says that “Knowing the Songs that People are Familiar With” is a great step in planning out setlists. I definitely agree.

Rocking out the latest radio hits or popular worship album songs every week might get you cool points, but there’s definitely something to be said for bringing familiar to the table each week. Learn the new stuff, have fun with it! But at the same time, if you’re looking to create an encounter where people actually join in consistently, sing stuff they know!

These are just a few tips from around the world about selecting worship music.

Do you have any invaluable tips that have helped you craft great setlists each week? Please share them!



is the Associate Director of Worship & Media at St. Simons Community Church, where he mentors, oversees and helps lead Family and Student worship environments. He is also the content curator and editor here at The Worship Community and at HighestPraise.com.

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