The Series

Too often, we, as worship leaders, can get into a rut in our worship planning. In this series of posts, I want us to evaluate our methods and thought processes as we design our times of worship. Our church’s corporate worship times are the primary means by which the church can disciple the majority of our people, and we must be intentional in our planning and leading in a way that truly transforms lives.

Check out the first post to better understand the term, Playlist Worship.

The second installment discusses how to help your congregation connect their hearts to the messages of the songs through times of ministry, testimony, scripture and prayer.

Part three explores ways to make worship songs more impactful by creating textual, thematic, and response links that connect the heart and mind of the worshipper.

Part four examines musical transitions that create a more logical, seamless flow in worship and engage the worshippers more fully.

In part five, we look at utilizing planned spontaneity in providing some great worship moments.

Part six discusses incorporating more non-musical worship elements into the service, such as prayers of confession, creeds, and scripture readings. 

This post will continue to look at ways we can design our times of worship with much more intentionality to connect the hearts and minds of the worshippers in ways that bring transformation. Today’s installment in this series looks at creating textual, thematic, and response links to achieve this goal.

Connecting songs by text, theme and response helps the worshippers feel as though their expression of worship (the songs) connect in a logical way, continuing their expression of worship in a powerful manner.

The song connections will have far greater impact if you can connect these songs musically as well as textually, thematically and responsively. Next week we will look at how to do that.

Text Link

Look at the lyrics and see if any key words or phrases suggest another song. Consider all verses of a song as well as the possibilities of starting with a chorus, bridge, or phrase of a song. Switching verses of a song can be done to assist with linking texts as long as it still makes sense in that order. Always keep in mind that you do not need to start the song with the first verse! Perhaps the beginning phrase of the second verse, the chorus, or the bridge connects to the closing text of the previous song.

For instance, if you were singing Agnus Dei, which ends, “Worthy is the Lamb, amen,” and go into the song Worthy Is the Lamb, many would finish the song, Agnus Dei, then play the introduction to Worthy Is the Lamb and go directly into the first verse, “Thank you for the cross, Lord…” The songs certainly connect, and people will get the connection when you reach the chorus, but think of how much more impact it would be if you finish Agnus Dei and go directly into the chorus, “Worthy is the Lamb, seated on the throne….” Once you sing the chorus, you can go back to the verse and move through the song in a more normal sequence.

So remember, look at the beginning of each verse, chorus and bridge and see where the connection is most powerful and choose that starting place.

Thematic Link

Songs can link together based solely on their themes. Topical indexes are great places to find songs of similar themes. Selecting two or more songs on the topic of grace, for instance, would provide this type of link. 

This is relatively easy to illustrate. If you are singing a song about the blood of Christ, such as Thank You, Jesus, for the Blood, you could segue into Nothing But the Blood. So, look at the theme of the song, then choose another song with the same theme and connect them.

Response Link

As you finish singing a song, think: “Where do I naturally want to go next? How do I want to respond?” Example: You have just finished singing Goodness of God. The instrumentalists sustain the final A chord. The worship leader begins to sing the chorus of God, You’re So Good (remaining in the key of A) as a quiet, heartfelt response to the previous song. You could also consider this a text link since the texts happen to align as well.

Next week, we will consider how to connect songs by key relationship to provide a smooth flow in worship.