Planning Powerful Worship Sets

Thanks to Rob Still for sharing this post with TWC. Originally publisthed at: http://www.robstill.com/planning-powerful-worship-sets/

I was recently inspired by this David Santistevan post on crafting powerful worship sets.

His very fine article presented four key ideas:

1. Teach – sing songs that declare who God is.
2. Engage – make it as easy as possible for people to sing, clap, and participate with the music.
3. Inspire –  lift their vision higher, help move people’s eyes off their circumstances onto the greatness of God.
4. Convict – turn our hearts away from self and towards God, that is repentance which leads to change.

My experience is that planning worship is a mixture of practicing theology, musical artistry, and understanding human dynamics.

I’d like to add these morsels to the buffet of ideas. Bon appetite!

1) Express

Our worship must proclaim theological truth. We tell the  truth of who God is and what he has done for us. That’s the vertical dimension of expression; God to man, and man to God.

But let’s not just stay there in the head, in the realm of the intellect. Let’s encourage people to connect deeply with their hearts.

Let’s rejoice in how God feels about us! God’s love and delight for his children is passionate and ever faithful.

Specifically, yes, sing songs with wonderful theology like “In Christ Alone” and “How Great Is Our God”. But let’s also include some desert to go with the meat and vegetables, songs like “Your Love Never Fails” and “How He Loves”.

A good worship diet is not only theologically solid, it is personal. Worship expresses emotion.

2) Journey

Generally speaking, we lead people on a journey that begins farther away from God, and finishes closer to God.  We progress from the “outer courts to the inner courts”, then into the most holy place.

When worship begins,  our focus may be scattered and  less aware of God presence. We draw near to Him (James 4:8) through giving Him thanksgiving and praise (Psalm 100).

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.” Psalm 100

We travel from being distant with God to being intimate with God.

“The nearness of God is my good.”  Psalm 73:28

That’s why we begin with an in-gathering song or call to worship, to draw our attention from being scattered to seeking His face.

As we draw close to Him, revelation is released and the presence of God impacts us in life changing ways. We are convicted of sin, or encouraged, or healed.

God gets our attention profoundly and that transforms the human heart.

Lead people on a journey that takes them closer to God. Of course, only the Holy Spirit can truly do that, but cooperate with him.

3) Reverence

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Proverbs 9:10

Let’s lead in way that fosters respect for the holiness and worthiness of God.

In our quest to be modern, relevant, casual and contemporary,  do we under-emphasize the necessity of approaching God reverently?

It is true, “I Am A Friend of God”, yet he is also the “God of Wonders” who is “Holy Holy Holy”.

Bold celebration is appropriate when built on a foundation of humility and reverence.

Approach God reverently, not presumptuously.

4) Edification

Encourage one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.

… be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. Ephesians 5:19

Corporate worship is not only vertical between God and man,  it is also horizontal. There is a horizontal dimension of expression; people to people.

We edify, or encourage one another. That’s how we live out community in the spirit of  unity (see Ephesians 4:11-16). It’s also part two of the Great Commandment. Love God and love people.

Some of our worship songs are for the encouragement of the body of Christ, like “Hold Us Together.”

As I’ve thought through this topic, I realize there is so much more to be explored about the art of worship planning. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

There are many more ingredients to a healthy worship diet. What would you add?

Rob Still is a worship leader, artisan, instructor and blogger in Nashville TN. He teaches at conferences and extensively on the mission field in eastern Europe – and blogs at RobStill.com.

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  • Uneeknitter

    Love this article. This gave me some great ideas on how to assist in song choice and order. We don’t really have a worship leader at this time, but rather we are all pulling our resources together to get things done each week.

    • http://www.robstill.com Rob Still

      Thanks Uneeknitter, I’m glad these ideas have helped you.

  • L.T. Taylor

    First of all, I would like to say thank you for all of the articls they really help, to see the big picture on what we’re doing and who all we affect! The church I grew up in had a very good worship leader and then he left to Pastor a church else where. I was always a tenor just on the side, until one night before youth service we had our music director give signals and lead while in practice and when it was time for service I realized everyone was looking at me to lead. No experience or practice for it, they just wanted me to do it (I was probably 16 or 17 maybe). I was still very new to it and I wasn’t sure on a lot of things, I had to try and figure things out on my own. With time, trial and error I got better, but oh how I wish I would have known about this website then! I have found answers here that I have been looking for, for years!