Ask this Question Before You Finalize Your Worship Set for Sunday

Developing a Music Plan is one of your most important roles each week.  I’m not just talking about selecting the set list. That’s only part of it.

I’m talking about creating a plan for how the music that you have selected is going to fit into the overall flow of the worship order, help create moments of life transformation, empower members of your team to step up to new levels of leading, and engage your congregation in passionate worship. You know… the easy stuff – ha!

The songs are important, but it’s your Music Plan that will pull all the pieces together and make for a powerful worship set each week.

At The Journey, we ask Five Questions each week to help us develop our plan, and over the next few weeks we’ll dive into each of these (and the system and purpose behind them).

Here’s #1: What’s the Big Idea?

Try to tell only ONE STORY in your worship service each week. If you’re singing five songs about five different topics, and then your pastor introduces a sixth topic,  your congregation will be confused at best.

So, be kind to the congregation (always a good rule) and try to tell just one story.

One of our core values for worship planning is, “The Message Drives the Day”. That means that whatever the theme / topic / idea of the message is, that’s what we’re going to build our music set and music plan around.

Now – that doesn’t mean that the opening song won’t be more like a general “call to worship”, and it doesn’t mean that every song will have the word “Grace” in the title (if the Big Idea is grace). What it does mean is that as you develop the flow of your set, regardless where you start, the theme of the music is building up to the theme of the message.

I know what you’re thinking . . . “Jason – my pastor isn’t able to give me the theme of the message until it’s too late.”

Ideally – the message topic is decided far in advance (using the worship planning system that we teach in Engage and Planning Worship Services for Life Transformation). But if that’s not where you are, then start by just telling one story in the music set.

Here’s what asking this question will help you do in your planning:

– Simplify the planning process — With so much music available today, being able to identify one major theme for your music will simplify your planning.

– Focus your planning team — Ever been in that music planning meeting where everyone has a different idea of where the set should go? By allowing the message to drive the day, your music planning team can focus on selecting songs and sets that fit the overall topic of the day.

– Build Momentum in your worship set — A sure-fire momentum killer in leading worship is switching gears too quickly or for no reason. When we jump from topic to topic we tend to a) talk to much to transition between songs, and b) disengage the congregation. Ever try to carry on a conversation with someone who keeps changing the topic?

But by building on common themes and selecting strategic transitions (we’ll talk about planning transitions in this series too), you’re able to establish momentum in your set, keep your congregation engaged and tie together all of the elements of the worship service — more on that next week.

So — how are you doing at telling one story? This week ask, “What’s the big idea of the service, and how can we select songs that support it?”

Your partner in ministry,

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