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7 Ways to Create a Powerful Worship Set List

7 Tips to Create A Powerful Worship Set List

One of a worship leader’s most fundamental jobs is picking the right songs for Sunday. Not only that, but putting the songs in the right order. Sometimes you can just feel which songs you should do. But this usually comes with years of leading. So how do you pick a great worship set list whether you’re a seasoned worship leader or just starting out?

7 Tips For a Great Worship Set List:

TIP #1: START WITH ONE SONG

Often there will be one song that I really feel is right for the upcoming Sunday. Maybe it matches the sermon theme. Maybe God gave you an impression during a prayer or personal worship time.

When this happens, it’s a nice headstart on your list. You can build the rest of the set around this song.

For instance, you feel that Hillsong United’s “The Stand” is THE song for this Sunday. You could put it in the middle to end of the slower part of the set. You come off some fast songs into maybe one slower one, do “The Stand,” then end on a mid tempo song.

Sample worship set list based on a song

“Running” – Hillsong United
“This Is Amazing Grace” – Phil Wickham
“Word of God Speak” – Mercy Me
Featured song –>”The Stand” – Hillsong United
“Like a Lion” – David Crowder

TIP #2: BUILD THE WORSHIP SET AROUND A THEME

Our church plans sermon topics out at least a few weeks. This helps worship leaders because we can log into a service planner such as Planning Center and peek at what the sermon is going to be about this coming Sunday.

Sure, you could call the pastor, but a lot of volunteer worship leaders like you and me do our sets at 10 p.m.! So that doesn’t always work.

At any rate, get access to your pastor’s sermon plans for the coming weeks and months. It’s a big help.

For instance, if you know your pastor will speak on faith, you might plan on doing Hillsong United’s “Oceans.” If on Christ’s forgiveness, perhaps you would play “At the Cross (Love Ran Red)” by Chris Tomlin. You get the idea.

Your pastor will love that you are ready with songs that back up his or her message.

Just a note here, however. Don’t feel that every song has to be in lock-step with the theme of the sermon. You have to deal with so many other factors when creating a worship set list—from keys to familiarity to song difficulty—that one or two strong songs around the theme is usually sufficient.

Sample worship set list based on the Theme “Surrendering to God”

“Lay Me Down” – Chris Tomlin
“Forevermore” – Jesus Culture
“Come as You Are” – David Crowder
“I Surrender All” (hymn)
“Glory to God” – Steve Fee

TIP #3: CONSIDER TEMPO

The tough thing about a worship set list is that it’s really five or six songs that are really one song.

What I mean is you have to ease from one song to the next. One song can’t be too different in tempo from the one before or the one after. Sometimes you can get away with big differences if you are creative with your transitions. But going from Hillsong’s “Oceans” to “Shout” by Chris Tomlin usually doesn’t go over too well.

Sample worship set list with smooth tempo changes

“Go” – Hillsong United (Fast)
“Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)” – Paul Baloche (Medium-fast)
“Waiting Here for You” – Martin Smith (Slow)
“How Great Is Our God” – Chris Tomlin (Medium-slow)
“Glory to God” – Steve Fee (Medium-fast)

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My name is Tim Lucas and I lead worship at a smallish church called Redmond Assembly of God in Redmond, Washington. I’ve been leading worship for over 20 years around the Pacific Northwest, USA.