It happens every week, all around the world. As a church gathers to worship God, a worship pastor and a team are given the opportunity to lead in worshipping the God of the Ages, the Alpha and the Omega, the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.
How do we approach this task and be ready each week to point people to Christ? So many times it just seems that we start with a blank piece of paper and pray that God would miraculously show us the songs to sing and other elements to include in worship. That may be one way to do it, and believe me, I’ve done it that way, but perhaps it’s not the best way.
In this day of being able to pull music from the internet, line it out by ear, or even sing your own music or music from your friends, the role of the worship pastor is even more important when considering song selection. We are now the curators of the songbook that our church uses, and with that task comes a great responsibility. Consider this checklist for the music you select:
Is it Biblical? Do the words and ideas of the song line up with Scripture? If it doesn’t, don’t use it—period.
What does the song really say? Does it say what you would want to say in a way that you would want to say it? This is also a “cross check” for any confusing or misleading language that might be misunderstood by the singer or listener.
Is the song God honoring? In the context of a worship service every song must serve the purpose of honoring and bringing glory to God and the message of Scripture. We must “make the message clear and plain” in selecting texts that glorify God.
Is the song well written so that it communicates in an engaging way? If a song is popular or well known, there will be many arrangements of the song. Take time to find an arrangement that works for people in your context.
Is the song in a “singable” range for your church (and for you)? Picture me standing on a soap box right now. Most songs that the artist sings in are too high for the average church member to sing. Trust me, people may love the song, but they will not sing if it’s out of their range. Also, remember, a song for the church should be in their range, not the range of the worship leader or worship team/choir.
Finding music for worship is a primary task, and it’s important that your team has the resources it needs to play and sing the songs well. Most songs will have multiple arrangements, and there are great options literally at your fingertips. Here are a few resources for congregational worship that are easy to use and easy to find:
- Lifeway Worship–lifewayworship.com (note, this is different from Lifeway.com) Lifeway Worship provides both a huge selection of modern and traditional songs.
- Praisecharts—praisecharts.com. Like Lifeway Worship, Praisecharts offers a lot of great resources and they especially have arrangements that are very similar to the artists’ version of a song.
- The hymnal—depending on what hymnal you have, there are modern songs along with songs that have connected with Christians for many years.
- Celebrating Grace—celebrating-grace.com. This a resource for more traditional worship expression, but great arrangements for piano and organ and church orchestra.
The opportunity to plan worship is both a blessing and a great responsibility. Planning worship comes from the heart of the worship pastor that is tuned to God and is sensitive to how God is working in and through the church or group you are leading.
As you plan worship, let our prayer first be that God would “tune my heart to sing Thy grace.” A heart that is “tuned” will resonate a song of the praise that glorifies God and advances the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
JOIN US FOR THE WORSHIP LEADERSHIP SUMMIT for “Scripture Guided Worship,” May 9 at Oklahoma City, Village or Tulsa, First. Visit oklahomabaptists.org/worship-music to register and for more details.