One of the best thing developing worship leaders can do is take every opportunity to lead in different environments. Every situation presents unique considerations, challenges, and opportunities for growth. Very recently, I was asked to lead worship for a small gathering of believers from a mix of churches.
Constructing a list of songs that would bring this group of people together to worship God presented some challenges. Here’s what I was after:
1. Participation. I wanted it make it as easy as possible for people to sing confidently from the start. Well-known and easy-to-sing songs were key, as participation mattered more to me than musical style.
2. Unity. With different churches represented, there were no doubt a variety of doctrinal views present. I had to be wise in choosing songs that would avoid more specific doctrines, opting instead for songs that were Christ- and gospel-focused.
3. Inspiration. I wanted to use what God had been stirring in my heart to affect others and point them to Christ.
4. Playability. I used a minimum of drum loops, but the songs had to sound good with just me singing and playing piano.
Here’s the list!
#1 – “Your Grace Is Enough,” by Matt Marr. Well-known, #15 on CCLI.com list of popular worship songs. The lyrics encourage participation and invite the presence of God.
The original key was Ab or A, but I dropped it down to F for a more comfortable range. In a small group, people don’t want to have to belt out high notes.
#2 – “Trading My Sorrows,” by Darrell Evans. Even if people feel this song is outdated or was overused, they still enjoy singing it. I think it does a good job of communicating what Christ has done, that we can lay down our “stuff” in exchange for His best. The original key is A major; I lowered the key again to G, so the vocal range for the first two songs topped out at C.
In between songs 2 and 3, I inserted a really simple chorus, “God is So Good.” It’s something that most people will know, and it’s very simple. Even if a chorus like this is planned, it still feels free and spontaneous. I think we’d do well to have a couple of these types of choruses ready to go at any time.
#3 – “Your Unfailing Love,” by Reuben Morgan (Hillsong, ca. 1998) This was the song that has really captured what God is stirring in my heart recently. Because it’s less familiar, It’s not the type of song I would typically choose for this type of service. However, I just couldn’t get away from the feeling that this is what needed to be sung at this meeting, and it turned out to be a very effective selection.
#4 – “Amazed,” by Jared Anderson. This song has a very simple, but vivid lyric that continued upon the unfailing love theme. It’s a well-known song that’s very singable.
The night went well, and I felt good about how the plan came together. However, it’s worth noting there is no such thing as a perfect songlist, and we should never put our faith in a cleverly-assembled songlist or worship service. Ultimately, it’s the presence of God that makes the difference.
In the video, I go into more depth and give some audio examples for the songs and loops I used. Grace and peace!