I've enjoyed leading worship for all kinds of gatherings. I've led for kids at Vacation Bible School, adults at prayer meetings, and seniors at assisted living homes.
I've lead for woman's Bible studies and men's breakfasts. In "see you at the pole" circles and stadium spectacles.
A good leader will craft their set list to cater to the gathering they're leading. Thoughtful sensitivity and a generous spirit make all the difference in helping those gathered turn their eyes to the Lord.
Serve Your Family
Worship Leaders are servants. Servant-leaders. We minister to the Lord first and in turn, serve the people we're leading. One way we serve our family is by leading songs that have a good chance of resonating with them.
Sometimes this means laying aside our personal preferences or our most recent song obsession. Years ago I discovered Sondre Lerche, a singer-songwriter from Norway. His Jazz inspired chord progressions especially intrigued me. It wasn't long before I was working a Marjor7 or Minor6 or Flat5 chords into every song in sight.
There's nothing wrong with a jazzy style but it was SO different from what my church was familiar with that it became distracting. I was serving myself and my family suffered.
A set list that is Gathering Specific puts your family first.
Multiple Service Types
Once we get our head on straight and realize that the church platform isn't our personal music lab, we can look a little more closely at the songs we're leading.
Many of us lead worship for multiple types of services in a given week or month. You may lead Sunday morning for your church as well Wednesday night for your youth group. It's important to make a distinction between these different service types.
What songs do each group connect with? What styles to do they enjoy? What styles fall flat? Don't simply use the same group of songs for every service type.
It's pretty obvious that you'd choose different songs for a nursing home visit and a youth Summer camp, but your Sunday Morning and Wednesday night services may be more different than you think. Be attentive. Lean into each unique gathering.
At this point, keeping track of when and where you lead each song becomes really helpful.
I lead for both our Sunday morning and Sunday evening services. Often I'll do a slightly different set list. It's common for me to look at a song and think, "we've already done that song several times in the last few weeks, I should give it a break." But closer inspection reveals I've done it several times in the morning but only once in the evening.
If you're superhuman you may be able to keep all of this recorded in your memory but most of us need a system. Programs like planning center have excellent features for tracking where and when you lead each song but pen and paper get the job done too.
When you sit down to craft your next setlist:
- Start by committing yourself to serve your church family.
- Focus on the specific gathering you're leading. What will really help them connect?
- Finally, look up the last three times you lead each song before you lock it in.