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.

COMING SOON!

  • Part four will look at planning musical transitions that create a more logical, seamless flow in worship to engage the worshippers more fully.
  • In part five, we will look at utilizing planned spontaneity in providing some great worship moments.
  • Part six will incorporate more non-musical worship elements into the service, such as prayers of confession, creeds, and scripture readings.

In Playlist Worship, as I mentioned in the first post, we often will string together perhaps 2-4 unrelated songs and essentially hit “play” on the worship set. We play the introduction to the first song, follow the predetermined song map (ex. intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, bridge, bridge, bridge, chorus, chorus, tag, outro), then expect applause at the end of the song while we get song # 2 cued up and started, following the predetermined song structure, and so on until the song set is complete. It is not unlike a DJ running the song tracks one after another at a wedding reception.

This falls short in so many ways as described in the first post.

Why not design our times of worship with much more intentionality to connect the hearts and minds of the worshippers in a way that brings transformation? By the end of this series, you will have many tools and ideas to help you design and lead worship services that are more impacting and transformational than just a stringing together of great songs.

Some of the areas we will be diving into are:

  • Helping your congregation connect their hearts to the messages of the songs through times of ministry, testimony, scripture and prayer.
  • Creating textual, thematic and response links to help connect the heart and mind to make the songs more powerfully impacting to the worshipper.
  • Planning musical transitions that create a more logical, seamless flow in worship to engage the worshippers more fully.
  • Incorporating more non-musical worship elements into the service, such as prayers of confession, creeds, and scripture readings.

Helping your congregation connect their hearts to the messages of the songs through times of ministry, testimony, scripture and prayer

It is vitally important that we select only the best songs for our congregations to consume. I have written extensively about song selection in another series.

Before we look at how to handle several songs in a row in worship, let us zoom in on thinking through one song. Think of how you can help the people profoundly encounter the message of the song by adding related scripture, prayer, testimony, or a time of ministry. For instance, if you are opening with the song, Goodness of God, here are some ways you could lead into the song to make it more impacting on the worshippers:

  • Begin with related scripture.

    • You could have the congregation read the passage in unison (it is always great to find additional ways for the congregation to actively participate in worship).
    • Another option is to read the passage responsively with the congregation, with a child or youth leading the way.
    • Alternatively, a skilled reader could memorize and deliver the scripture passages in a powerful manner.
    • Here is an example of passages you could use for this song (you can use all of them in the reading):
      • Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. (1 Chronicles 16:34)
      • The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth. (Exodus 34:6)
      • Good and upright is the Lord. (Psalm 25:8)
      • And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord: “For He is good, for His mercy endures forever toward Israel.” (Ezra 3:11)
      • Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him! (Psalm 34:8)
      • Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting. (Psalm 100:4-5)
      • Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness. (Psalm 107:8-9)
    • Begin with prayer.

      • The prayer could be spoken by one of the singers, someone from the congregation, read in unison by the congregation, etc.
      •  It’s important to prepare ahead for prayers to ensure that they have substance. Sometimes, extemporaneous prayers can be shallow, predictable, and trite.
      • The prayer before singing “Goodness of God” should end with thanking God for His great faithfulness and goodness. Look at the song’s lyrics and pull some phrases that will help connect them to the prayer. Our singing is a continuation of the prayer.
      • Since the song is a prayer, we should spontaneously begin singing it after the prayer. I will unpack this idea later in the series.
    • Begin with a testimony.

      • Consider asking one of the members of your church who can speak powerfully about God’s goodness and faithfulness to share a brief testimony before starting the song.
      • If you want to make it more impactful, you can also play an edited video of their testimony, carefully crafting the message and incorporating some B-roll footage to visually enhance the testimony.
      • This will help people connect the testimony to the song and realize that they, too, have a story of God’s goodness to share.
    • Begin with a ministry time.

      • Consider ways in which you can assist individuals in encountering and personalizing song lyrics. Here is an example process to follow:
        • Start with a verse from scripture that speaks about God’s goodness or express a statement about His faithfulness and goodness.
        • Ask people to reflect on how God has shown them kindness in the past few months. Encourage everyone to offer prayers of gratitude for God’s goodness in their lives.
        • Next, request that everyone shares a testimony about God’s goodness with someone else.
        • After allowing some time for prayer and reflection, lead the group in singing the song spontaneously (I will explain this further in the series).

      While introducing the song, you can play quiet music (such as pads) in the key of the song that you will lead into.

      Next week, we will explore ways to make worship songs more impactful by creating textual, thematic, and responsive links that connect the heart and mind of the worshipper.