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Who Gives Input Into Your Worship/Song Selection

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  • Who Gives Input Into Your Worship/Song Selection

    Hey Gang,

    Question for ya. I'd like to know who has a "voice" or "input" in the music that you choose for your corporate worship services. That doesn't mean that they have input every single week - but overall, how many voices contribute to your musical selections and strategy.

    Do you just choose the songs on your own?
    Does your pastor choose songs, or lead you in that?
    Do you have a team, committee, or evaluation process?

    We've tried a few different ways here - I'm primarily responsible, but we have some voices that contribute, and are looking to perhaps include more voices. (which has pros and cons, that I struggle with!)

    I look forward to the discussion.

    For the Kingdom,
    Fred McKinnon, Pianist/Composer/Worship Leader
    blog: www.fredmckinnon.com

    Please check out my piano/instrumental music at:

  • #2
    Hey Fred,

    I do all of the planning - even when I will be gone. My pastor does give some input, but pretty much lets me go with it. I do get themes or passages sometime, but not all the time. That said, I am amazed at how the Holy Spirit lead me in song selection - there are times when my pastor and I have not talked about sermon subject or passage and you'd think we planned the whole service out strategically. GOD IS SOVREIGN!

    I've thought about partnering or collabotating, but time is really the challenge, as I am not on staff at church and we generally don't plan too far in advance.


    • #3
      I assume you're talking about "the list" itself, and not the weekly setlist.

      For us, it's a team effort. We keep a "current" list of 50 songs. It gets revised every six months. Some come off, some go on. We do that by team vote. Everyone submits five songs they want taken off, and five they want added, and we cull the list based on that.

      Anyone on the team is free to suggest a song to be added. We ask they come with lyrics, charts and a recording to play for the team. We will work on a new song for several weeks, and if we like it, it goes "on deck" for the list.

      We also last year surveyed the entire congregation for songs/artists they would like us to do, styles they prefer, etc. That went into some of last years list. (For example, now there needs to be 5 hymns on the list)


      • #4
        Actually, the master list, yes ... but also the weekly setlists. (the week-to-week selections is primarily what I was getting at).

        Who makes up your "team" that votes? Is it the core praise team? Anyone outside of the team?

        I assume that the "survey" you do in the congregation is how you get their feedback. Care to share a sample of what that survey would look like, and how often you take it, and how you practically do it? (ie. pass it out, collect it in the offering, etc)

        Fred McKinnon, Pianist/Composer/Worship Leader
        blog: www.fredmckinnon.com

        Please check out my piano/instrumental music at:


        • #5
          In the past:

          I have always opened up the "door" for suggestions. Always letting the team know that they are welcomed to make suggestions (requests) any time.

          Also, letting them know that if they hear ANYONE in the congregation request a specific song to direct them to the leader and/or make a note of that song and let the leader know.

          Week to week, depending on who is in the rotation would also be a key factor. For instance, if I have really soulful songs and have 2 people that can lead them very well, but both of them are going to be out of town, I won't select those songs.

          As far as "voices" go, I've experienced several approaches. All CAN work, but like you said have pros/cons.

          1) Pastor gives input: to me this is okay occasionally. If there is a specific tie in to the topic that week, or a song that they just really feel needs to be done that week. I've worked in situations where the pastor had NO input and then others where the pastor wanted to micromanage. There is a healthy balance.

          2) Committee: This CAN work as well, but basically creates an almost unnecessary meeting that needs to either happen weekly, or at the very least monthly to plan out song sets in advance.

          Planning out a month in advance (especially if you have the topics for sermons ahead of time) can really be beneficial, but could also create small headaches if and when you need to make changes each week (if you've already given the team the lineups).

          But, on the upside, it's great to do ANYTHING as a team. And this provides one more opportunity for you to bond with and develop deeper relationship with your "committee." If I went this route, I'd select members of the team who had interest, who showed leadership qualities, and who could commit.

          3) The WL takes full responsibility: I think this is where most of us land. The "voices" we hear are "inside our head" haha! Just kidding. But this is probably the least demanding of all the approaches I've been a part of. But it also sets you up kind of isolated from the team and the pastoral team.

          I think there's a few ways to look at this approach.

          a) the team appreciates the WL having everything planned out and prepared for them ahead of time. They respect and understand the work that goes into creating charts, transposing music, working out vocal harmonies, etc.
          b) certain members of the team wants to be more involved in "leadership" aspects and this approach could keep this simple opportunity from happening.
          c) When things fall "flat" (we all have those days, right?) we seem to take the full burden of that because we're the ones who planned and prepared everything! Not that that's a terrible thing, but I think sometimes the more "ears and hearts" we have turned towards God the better.

          This is definitely a GREAT question. It opens up the discussion for a lot of neat thoughts.

          Can we include others in the process to give them a taste of leadership?

          Can we include the pastor without them being "too involved?"

          Can we include members of the congregation without it becoming a preference-fest?
          Last edited by russhutto; 02-01-2010, 11:43 AM.
          Associate Director of Worship & Media at St. Simons Community Church .He is also the content curator and editor here at The Worship Community.


          • #6
            Our team is the whole worship team. We don't have a "core" team. There are only 8 of us.

            We rotate the song selection among the team members. Each person gets two back-to-back weeks, and not everyone wants to do it. So it works out that each person picks out songs for two weeks every three or four months. It takes the pressure off, and lets everyone express themselves and share what God is saying to them. It works out really well.

            If there is a special event or we play somewhere other than our church, usually either myself or our team leader will pick the songs.

            As to the survey, you can read my blog about it.

            Part 1

            Part 2

            If you want more detail, I can bring the surveys when you come up for the retreat.


            • #7
              I've been in churches that have done this a number of different ways over the years, but I really like the way we do it at CenterPoint now. Ultimately, I get to make the call on what we play. If somebody else is leading on a given Sunday, then they'll put together their set and send it to me and we might make a couple of tweaks from there. Our pastor will occasionally make suggestions as well (doesn't happen very often, so I take it pretty seriously when he feels strongly about a tune one way or the other). Our Creative Worship Team will sometimes come up with some good ideas at our meetings for each series. And of course, if another team member or congregation member makes a suggestion, I definitely look into it.
              Eric Frisch


              • #8
                My hubby and I pick the songs then send the list out usually the Thursday or Friday before that Sunday. The songs we pick are the songs that we feel lead to do that Sunday but the team is more than welcome to make suggestions.


                • #9
                  I encourage input from our congregation and worship team members. Of course, I also pay attention to what songs help the congregation members to worship more. That is also kind-of their input! I thought about developing a worship committee but with our small size I didn't see it happening on a consistent basis and the attendees would be the same core group of people that attend everything else. I didn't want to add that to their list of things to do!

                  Everyone has input, but the sole responsibility resides with the worship leader.
                  Great question!


                  • #10
                    We have 2 leaders at our church, the pastor's wife and me. We each pick our own songs when we lead.

                    My wife gives input as well. Sometimes she can see the way songs match up lyricly better then I can. Then it is up to me to figure out how to musically match up the songs.

                    My pastor gives us freedom to listen to the holy spirit when selecting.


                    • #11
                      I have a huge percentage of the responsibility for finding new songs. A few of our pastors will give their input every now and then, as will members of our band. I'm also primarily responsible for our weekly setlists...we're hoping to put together a creative team to help organize our worship gatherings.

                      Practical Worship

                      Please Pray For My Wife


                      • #12
                        Our leader chooses the setlist for Sundays each week. There are a few specific people she has asked for suggestions, but she's never requested them publicly (although I know she wouldn't mind them). Very rarely the pastor will ask for a specific song.

                        Wednesdays she and I usually do the setlist together. We email back and forth until we come up with something workable for both of us (she's not familiar with a lot of the older stuff we do then and if I'm singing lead I need input on the keys)


                        • #13
                          I just started a new position just over 3 months ago that is very different from where I was at the previous 7 years.

                          Where I was before, I pretty much picked out the music week to week, and a lot of time was flying solo or playing with a small group. The pastor and others would occasionally offer suggestions, but there wasn't much of a structure for it. There were different points of my time there when there was one or two others leading/coordinating as well, but still the same; the person leading was typically picking out music weekly without much structure or planning ahead of time.

                          Where I'm at now, I coordinate four teams, one of which I actually lead (the others I work with to plan/coordinate music/transitions/readings/etc. as well as fill in where/when needed). I work with each leader of the group 2-3 weeks ahead of time to get the ball rolling with song selection, and typically have the flow of worship put together a week out (not always, and we're definitely open to changing things last minute if the Spirit is leading!). I meet with the senior pastor weekly and we discuss the music for the upcoming Sundays. He doesn't typically have any suggestions, but it's good to have other people in on the process.

                          I'm not sure if this is helpful, but it's how we do things. I used to be a lot looser in song selection and preparation, using the excuse that planning ahead and having a set list/structure puts God in a box and we don't allow the Spirit to move. Now I think I've moved toward the middle more. I think if I don't take the time to plan ahead, I'm limiting what the Spirit is wanting to do. Like most things, it can be dangerous either extreme, so I find a healthy balance of prayerful planning and being flexible (or "Gumby" as we call it) to be good.


                          • #14
                            One thing I haven't seen mentioned is to only pick the first one or two songs of a set and then let the worship leader take it wherever they feel is right. So long as you have a computer that searches for songs quickly for the projector (and operator who can recognize the songs) it can work brilliantly. Of course you also need a band that can play by ear. I've only ever once been in a band that could do this however we had some pretty amazing experiences with this level of spontaneity.


                            • #15
                              There's nothing wrong with listening to your bandmates and taking their suggestions and input to heart. In fact, it's an incredible thing for a leader to do. But when it all comes down to it, I think for a worship team to be effective there needs to be that definite authoritative figure in the group. Some sort of leader that has the final say. Structure keeps us all grounded.

                              So what I see to be the optimal situation is when the leader picks the entire setlist before any sort of practice even starts. That way, during the practice/rehearsal/whatever-you-want-to-call-it, the group can use their time working with the basic framework that the leader has already chosen and changing this for that as needed (as opposed to everybody just showing up and then deciding what will be done)

                              However, a lot of times this mentality can lead to micromanagement of everything. It's really easy for the leader to just do everything and not consult anyone about his/her decisions. I've had that problem before. Sometimes, it really just is easier to do everything myself. But I have to ask myself, "is this the right way? is this God's way?" I really have to watch myself about that. To me, nothing kills a ministry more quickly than someone who completely micromanages everything.
                              Last edited by Locke; 05-28-2010, 06:05 PM. Reason: Thought of better stuff to say.