Posted by Beth Croft on 7 January 2016

Setlists, setlists, setlists

No one really tells you how to put a setlist together. If your first experience of leading worship was anything like mine, you'll have been handed a guitar - because you're "quite musical" - and been expected to know what to do! Knowing no better, I scribbled down my 5 favorite worship songs in order of preference and started strumming...

Now, don't get me wrong... songs are simply a vehicle for worship. The presence of God doesn't depend on them. There's no combination code on the gates of heaven that only unlocks if you play the right songs in the right order. But at the same time, I think there should be more to writing a setlist than just stringing together a handful of songs without any thought or care.

1. Embrace the responsibility
By definition, worship leaders put words into people's mouths; we are leading people in songs that will inevitably affect their view of who God is. That's not a responsibility we want to take lightly. Worship shouldn't leave people feeling misled or confused, so let's make sure the songs we lead are grounded in truth and that the lyrics aren't so edgy that people can't understand what they're singing.

2. Get out of the way
Believe it or not, worship isn't our time to shine; Jesus gets the spotlight, even when we're the ones standing on a stage. So before launching into a 10-minute version of our latest new song while everyone is staring at a blank screen, let's choose accessible songs that enable everyone to join in, rather than letting our own "stuff" get in the way of people meeting Jesus.

3. Hold everything lightly
“In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord determines their steps" (Prov 16.9). If our setlist is the "course" and the presence of God is our goal, then the Lord will determine how we get there. Rather than seeing our setlists as a straight jacket, let's always be watching and listening for His Spirit while we lead, asking "where are people at?", "where are You leading us?". The more prepared we are, the easier it is to go off script.

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