6 Steps to crafting engaging worship sets

“How do I put together a compelling and engaging worship set?” Whether you’re a veteran worship leader or brand new to the game, putting together a song set is something you have to do on a regular basis. But how do we go about it? Is there a formula? Are there filters that can help us decide which songs to do and in what order? Song selection and song order is a key element to congregational engagement. In this episode I give six steps to crafting highly engaging worship sets. Consider this worship leading 101. I hope it’s a help to you!

Songs well picked and well placed engage the whole person: emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.

E-Book “Crafting Incredible Worship Sets” (Free w/ Email)
“Crafting Incredible Worship Sets” on Amazon (.99¢)

Direct Download

LISTEN ON YOUR SMARTPHONE
Listen while you drive, workout, or do chores! Subscribe on:
Apple Podcasts
,  Google PodcastsSpotify, StitcherTune IniHeartRadio
Not sure how? CLICK HERE


Our Sponsor This Month –  Worship Leader Training Courses

Worship Leader Course Bundle Desktop

Our listeners get an exclusive discount!
Enter WMTPODCAST at checkout for 25% off 



Enjoy the podcast? Say thanks by leaving us a review on iTunes!

Transcript

Alex Enfiedjian 00:11 Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the worship leader training podcast. This is a monthly topical training podcast for worship leaders and worship teams. And the reason it’s monthly as opposed to weekly is because I would rather give you one super solid, in depth, high quality, practical helpful episode a month instead of four kind of decent ones. And I need time to do that. And I also want to respect your time, I’d rather give you one great episode a month that you can chew on and think about, instead of fill up your podcast queue. And you have to feel like you have to rush through all this content. I want to give you some free space and some mental space to focus on your own projects, and your own ministries and your own families. So that’s why it’s monthly. And it’s topical, because I really have a desire to create an archive of relevant, easily searchable themes. That’ll be helpful, particularly for new worship leaders. But even for veteran worship leaders who are kind of wrestling with a specific topic, I’d love for you to be able to look at the list of episodes and know exactly what you’re going to get when you click that episode to listen. So I do enjoy listening to other podcasts that do artist interviews, but I only bring on an artist or a celebrity if I feel like they can address a specific topic in a helpful way. So now you know a little bit about what we’re trying to do here. So welcome, especially if you’re new Welcome. Today is Episode 25 of the podcast. And we’re gonna be talking about six steps to help build an engaging worship set. And I think all of us who listen to this podcast want to see our churches engage more during musical worship. And I have found that song selection is very critical to seeing the kind of engagement that we want to see. So that’s, that’s what we’re going to talk about. And I’m excited to share this episode with you. But first, I’m super excited to share our first ever podcast sponsor. Now here’s my promise to you about sponsors, I promise to you that when I have a sponsor on the podcast, I will only ever bring you products that I personally use that I personally love. And that I think will actually help you in your ministry. So I’m not gonna just bring you stuff so that I can make money, I’m bringing you stuff that I really believe in. And that I think will actually help you if you decide to use it. And that’s that’s exactly the case with our first sponsor, core sound pads. Core sound pads is a new set of worship pads, you know, that ethereal sound that you hear in modern worship music, and they are incredible, I have used almost all of the available worship pads out there. And this set of worship pads that core sound has created is just fantastic. I’ve been using it for several weeks now. And they really fill out the sound of your worship team and they kind of fill in the gaps and fill in the spaces. And the coolest thing I think about these these pads is that core sound has created multiple styles of pads. So you get obviously you get all the keys for each pad set. But each pad set has different textures, and different feelings to them. So you really can bring out the uniqueness of each song. The best way I can explain this to you is just to have you click the link in the show notes that says video demo, check it out. Watch it, you’ll see exactly why these are fantastic. It’s totally free to try. And if you decide to buy the deluxe bundle, which has all the different various sounds, our listeners get an exclusive $20 off coupon. And so what you do is you when you’re checking out you just type in w el tee podcast worship leader training podcasts w lt podcast at checkout. And then I’ll give you 20 bucks off the deluxe bundle. So check it out. And I’ll probably do an episode on how to use pads in worship in the next few months. Because really, that’s been a game changer for me and for my teams and for my church is when I started using these ethereal backing pads in our worship sets. So that’s it for today’s sponsor, check them out. Let’s jump into our topic for today six steps to crafting engaging worship sets. So from October 2015 to June 2016. I took a break from full time paid ministry I was still volunteering and serving at a church playing different instruments and leading from time to time but I had a lot more freedom and it allowed me to travel and see different churches and attend different churches with my wife and just participate in worship. And at some of them I was super encouraged by the intentionality and the leadership in the song sets but I’m telling you in a lot of churches, I was disheartened by the seeming randomness and lack of planning during the times of musical worship. I mean, in a lot of the churches, it seemed like the worship leader worship pastor just reached his hand into a hat and pulled out five songs at random. Or maybe he just picked his five favorite songs and threw them at his worship team without much thought. Now, the interesting thing was engagement from the congregation at churches like this was very low. Even at big churches, with great sound and epic production, the congregation just wasn’t engaged. And if you’re like me, you want to do your best to craft beautiful, engaging, worshipful God honoring sets. I mean, that’s what we strive for. And so after visiting a couple churches like this, I decided to write an E book to hopefully help worship leaders see more engagement in their churches through thoughtful set planning, because the songs that we choose, and the order that they are in is probably one of the most important factors in constructing a powerful engaging worship service. Songs well picked and songs well placed, engage the whole person, the emotional side, the intellectual side, and the spiritual side. And so I have kind of put these six steps together as an attempt at that. And for some of you who are worship leaders who have been doing this for a long time, you might do these things intuitively, you may never have put words to it or kind of thought of it in a formula, you just kind of do these things naturally. And that’s great. And I’m just going to be putting words to what you do each week. But for some of those of you who are newer at this thing called worship leading, this might be a new grid for you by which to think about song selection. So one last thing, before we get into the six steps, there is a lot of content here. And I will try not to be boring. But if you are someone who would rather look at this with your eyes and kind of see the thought and the progression. This is from the ebook that I wrote called crafting incredible worship sets. And you can get it for free on my website. If you go to Alexon music comm slash books, it’s free, you just got to enter your email. Or if you’re like, I don’t want you to have my email Alex because you’re a creeper, then you can get it for 99 cents on Amazon. And I’ll link both of those in the show notes. So, alright, let’s get into six steps. steps one through four will be about song selection, and steps five and six will be about song order. Step number one, pray before you start, stop. Okay, so it’s so important and it seems so dumb to say it but let’s pray you know, stop and ask God to guide

Alex Enfiedjian 07:43 you. Because he knows what your people need to be singing that week. He knows what they’ve been going through. He knows the truth that they need to sink into their hearts. And so let him guide you. And this is true, whether you’re picking your songs for weeks in advance, or the day before rehearsal, although I don’t recommend the ladder. So pray. And don’t underestimate the power of seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance to lead you to the right songs through this process. Alright, step number one, pray. Step number two, determine the theme determine the theme. The most powerful and cohesive worship services have some sort of theme or a thread running through the entirety of the service. You know, don’t just pick songs at random and don’t even just pick songs that you like. And you’re like, I’m gonna pick these five because I like these notes. Ask God to lead you to a theme for that week.

Alex Enfiedjian 08:38 You know, a common practice for worship leaders is to pick songs that correlate with the theme of the pastor sermon. So team up with your pastor, you know, get with him once a week. Ask him for his sermons ahead of time if possible. And if possible, ask him weeks in advance. What are you preaching on at the very least, asked him for scripture passages that he’ll be working out of ahead of time. You know, at my current church, the pastor’s have a title and a passage for each week for the coming months, okay, so they don’t really know exactly where they’re going to go in their sermon, but they have the passage and the text of the passage is enough for me. So grab the passage, read through it, and kind of just start thinking about the major themes that you’re seeing in the passage, because that’ll probably come out in your pastor sermon, and see which songs or themes come to your mind as you read it, read it once, twice, three times, and then go look at your master song list and pick up every song that has to do with that theme. Pick every song that fits with that passage. And again, not every song in your setlist your final set, your five song set has to be 100% on point with the theme because that would be near impossible. But having a couple of songs that correspond with the sermon really helped things subconsciously click in your congregations mind. So this is a special True for songs before the sermon or after the sermon, you know, the closer you can get those songs in line with your pastor’s theme, the better it’s going to be for your church. And really, the main idea here is just to be intentional, that the songs you choose are thematically tying together and are leading people intellectually. The congregants should feel this sort of thematic progression. One thing I will say about this, and we talked about this in Episode 23, with Bob kauflin. That means that the songs that you choose need to have clear and comprehensible lyrics not vague Christian phrases that many modern worship songs have leaned towards. So go check out Episode 23, with Bob kauflin, if you’re interested in that, but you got to have songs that really say something clearly, if you’re going to try to have a thematic progression through your set. And you might be saying, Alex, Alex, my pastor refuses to give me his sermon beforehand. And to that I say, I’m very sorry, that’s like super hard. See if you can meet with him, see if you can compromise, at least ask him pastor, please, can I just have the passage for next Sunday, if you can just pick that ahead of time that would help me so much to lead better just, you know, tell him that your heart is to lead the church better and see if he’s willing to help if he will not cooperate. I know that many worship leaders adhere to kind of the Isaiah six method of song selection, where the songs move, basically read the Isaiah six passage and look at his response of worship. When he sees God it moves from praise to confession to salvation to Thanksgiving. So, if your pastor won’t give you sermon theme, you know, use the Isaiah six method of song selection that might be a help to you. But the main point of Step two is to be intentional, and having your songs thematically tied together. And that leads us to step three. Step Three of crafting an engaging song set for your congregation is, know your audience. Step three is know your audience. So by the end of step two, you’ve kind of looked at all these songs, you got maybe 50 songs that fit your theme. But by the time you get through step three, and four, that number is going to be way knocked down. Because as you look at all the songs from step two, now, picture your audience, ask yourself the question, Who am I leading? What is their age? Okay, like, are they 50 6070? Primarily? Or are they 15 2025? Primarily, you know, what is their age? What is their stylistic preference? What are they facing in their lives right now? Where is our church at in its journey? Why do we need to be singing as a church? What songs do they already know and love and connect with? Because your congregation should determine your song choice, okay, a small church of 50 to 60 year olds in the rural Midwest, farming town somewhere, probably isn’t going to connect very well with the Hillsong young and free song. Even though that very same same song worked awesome at youth camp last week, it’s not going to connect with the 5060 or 70 year olds, in your small rural

Alex Enfiedjian 13:22 church, you know, so, picture the congregation and ask the question, How can I best serve this group of people through the songs that I choose? That’s step three, know your audience. And step four is a corollary to step three, know your band, know your band, because not all bands can pull off all songs. You know, if your band consists of two acoustic guitar players and a cone, you’re probably not going to effectively pull off those huge stadium worship anthems that you hear Jesus culture play, I mean, you can turn those back. But if you try to do those songs in the same way, it’s gonna fall flat. So that’s gonna determine your song choice right there, Oh, I can’t do one thing remains very well with a guitar and a home. So as you pick your songs for this upcoming Sunday, or for three Sundays from now, it’s really important to consider who is playing with you that week. And there are two things, two factors to consider. When you’re thinking about your band, one is instrumentation. And the second is talent. So let’s talk about instrumentation. When you’re thinking about what songs to pick, and you’re looking at the team for that week, What instruments do you have at your disposal? You know, if you have a couple of guitars in a jam Bay, and that’s it, playing a song like great I am isn’t going to be so great. So instead, you need to look at the instrumentation and pick songs with a more acoustic vibe. But on the other hand, if you look at your team and you’re like wow, look at all these instruments I have at my disposal. I’ve got this huge team to electric guitars a synth a piano, you know, drummer and percussionist, well ask which songs can I do to take advantage of all the instrumentation I have at my disposal, and pick songs that will utilize all those textures that you have in your arsenal for that week. And just take advantage of that bigger sound. So ask yourself which songs will take advantage of the bigger sound, or which songs need to be toned down from my smaller more acoustic band. So, instrumentation. The other half of that is talent. Talent is very important too, because not everyone on your team is equally gifted or experienced. And you need to keep that in mind when you’re choosing your songs. So the drummer who struggles just to keep tempo should not be given songs that are overly technical, have tons of breaks, weird tricky beats, now you have to pick songs that work with that drummers talent ability. So that’s going to limit your song choice to you’ve got to take that into consideration. And I’m not saying you should never stretch your team’s musically, but definitely keep in mind their current abilities as you pick songs for the coming week. Okay, so let’s go through the steps one pray to determine the theme. Three, know your audience for know your band. And now you’ve got your big list of 50 songs when you started picking the themes, and you’ve now you’re like, Okay, well, what is my church like? And what can my band play? Now you’re down to probably five to 15 songs that are looking like they might work. Okay. So that’s, that’s where we move to step five. And we start taking those five to 15 songs and trying to figure out what’s the best order. And as you do that, you’re going to quickly find which ones make the final cut. So step five now is you take your list of 15 songs, or 10 songs or seven songs, and you start trying to put them in order. Step five, is choosing song order. And I would say that song order is just as important as song selection, because the order of songs have to flow together musically, emotionally. And thematically. And that’s, that’s a pretty difficult task, you know, and it doesn’t have to be perfect each week, right? I mean, we’re never going to get this 100% perfect 100% of the time, but it is something to aim for. How can I make my songs flow together musically, emotionally and thematically. And I think there are three filters that help us determine our song order. So you got your list of songs 15 songs, here are three filters, I call them to run those songs through to determine the order and which ones make the final cut those three filters that will help you are tempo, key, and focus. So tempo tempos, obviously, are the speed of the songs, okay.

Alex Enfiedjian 17:56 And

Alex Enfiedjian 17:57 the idea here is that you don’t want to set full of fast songs only. And you don’t want to set full of slow songs only I did a set full of slow songs four weeks ago, because I had like, really strong vocalists. And we just did a bunch of hymns. And I had a couple people say, well, that felt like a dirge. So you don’t want all fast or you don’t want all slow. So you have to have the right amount of each tempo. So many worship leaders, they’ll start with fast songs of praise, like upbeat, high energy. And this is a good tactic because it actually brings a lot of energy and passion and joy to the room. And it gets people moving and clapping and responding with their bodies. And usually when people engage with their bodies, their spirits are quick to follow. There’s just something about the way God made us that our bodies and our spirits work together. So if you can get people clapping, or lifting their hands, or you know, whatever, that usually helps their spirits start to engage as well. So upbeat songs are a good way to start. So many worship leaders will go from fast songs of praise to a couple of mid tempo songs of confession and worship, and then end with some big slow epic anthems of God’s amazing glory. And this tends to be a good pattern, it works well for me, and it’s kind of the pattern that I follow on a weekly basis, but it’s not a hard and fast rule. You really have to find what works best for your people. So that’s the first filter the tempo look at your song list, considered the tempo filter, now you’re looking at your 15 songs, how many of them are fast? Do you have too many fast ones? Do you have too many mid tempo ones too many slow ones. Alright, which ones are you going to cut because you can’t do them all. So the next filter of song order is keys. We want to run our songs through the keys filter, because certain keys don’t go well together. And you want to make sure that your your song keys flow nicely from one song to the next. And a really good trick for this is to use something called relative keys. And a relative key is simply this, the one chord, or the four chord, or the five chord of a key can easily be your next song. So if you don’t know music theory, that’s okay. In the in the back of my ebook, there’s a chart that shows you each key and the relative keys for that key, so you can grab that. But the idea is this. So if you’re in the key of G, your next song could flow easily from G if it were in G, which is the one chord, so you can go from G to G, or you can go from G to C, which is the four chord, or you can go from G to D, which is the five chord. So in each key, you have three options for your next song. It doesn’t have to be this way, you know, you could break it up with a drum beat in between keys. But if you want your keys to flow, check out the relative key theory where you go from one key to a song in a relative key. Here’s a practical example of how that might look. Let’s say you’re playing Your love never fails. And you and by playing a minor, C, D, and E and in the D, which is the five chord, and then you start 10,000 reasons in the key of D, there you go, you just transition keys very smoothly. So that’s a that’s a filter, you want to be looking at with your with your song choices, as you whittle down that final set into your five or six songs. And I have a couple other thoughts before we move on from the keys thing. I personally, you could do whatever you want. I try not to change keys too many times per worship set. So once or maximum twice in a four song set, I don’t want to change keys every single song. And I know some worship leaders do that, and it works for them. But I like to kind of do too in G go to D and then end an A or something like that. If you decide to play all four songs or five songs in the same key, it can become really monotonous. So I would caution you against doing all your songs in the same key unless you get really creative with your band arrangements to make each song sound unique. And then finally, the last thing I would say about your key choices is as you consider the key filter makes sure that your keys are easy for your congregation to sing. Because this whole podcast is about creating sets that help your people engage. But if your people can’t hit the notes, they’re not going to engage, they’re going to fold their arms and they’re going to watch you sing really high notes and sound awesome. But this is about them singing. So make sure as you pick keys and you think about which songs to do that you’re picking keys that are helpful for your congregation. Alright, the final filter, then

Alex Enfiedjian 22:54 in your song order, is the focus filter. And what I mean by this is I have found it good to end with strong God focus songs of adoration. And you have kind of been moving your people from the outer courts to the inner courts. And now it’s time to move to the Holy of Holies. You know, you want the most God focused God centered, powerful, intense songs at the end of your set. Examples of such songs would be revelation song, it’s such a good song to end the set with are great I Am, you know, holy, holy God Almighty. Great I Am. That’s so God focused or Jesus paid it all. You sing all about what he did for you. And then you think, oh, praise someone who pay my debt. I mean, that is such a god focused Jesus focus song, how great is our God. So you want to end your set with the focus being all about Jesus. He is the capstone of the set, his character, his work, his power, his holiness, his love. It captivates us. It’s like the last song or two, you want people to get this good, long look at Jesus, and it makes them in awe of him. And I found that ending your sets with God centered songs really helps bring a sense of completion to the worship experience. It’s like this, like, we just we just saw the king, we just worshipped him. So as you’re putting your songs in order, I would encourage you to end with God centered God focused songs. So those are the three filters to help you determine song order, tempo, key and focus. And I’ll say something real quick. Those aren’t necessarily filters that you’re doing in a specific order. They’re kind of all happening simultaneously. As you puzzle piece this thing together. It’s not like first I do tempo, then I do key then I do focus now. It’s really kind of happening all at once. And I’ll also Let’s say as you put your final set together, don’t forget all of the other elements you have at your disposal, for example, tags from other songs on a stick a tag in between to songs, or scripture readings, or ancient Creed’s, or corporate readings, or times of reflection or communion, prayer, or even videos. So, you know, don’t just stick to songs if if you want use these other things that can really enhance your worship time. Okay, so now you’ve got your set in order and we move to the very last step in this process. The final step to crafting and engaging worship set is to plan your transitions. And I would say that this is so important because if things don’t flow, well, it’ll rip your people out of the moment. You know what I mean? We want to eliminate as many distractions as humanly possible. So we can help people focus on Jesus. Like, we don’t want to be fumbling from one song or one service element to the next because we didn’t practice it enough, or we didn’t put enough thought into it. We don’t want to do that. You know, you don’t want to be having your church wait around while you adjust your cable or you tune or you move your sheet music. You know, if you use sheet music, then get a music stand, extend or they’re 20 bucks, you can lay all your meet all your songs out, and you can see them in order. And you don’t have to fumble with paper in between songs. Or if you need to put on a cable or tune, then have the piano player start or have the drummer and the bass player start. Just think about how am I going to get from one song to the next smoothly without distracting my congregation. And this is where Honestly, this is where those worship pads that I talked about at the beginning. That is a great way to eliminate awkward silence between songs because it keeps the atmosphere in between songs or while you’re praying. The main point here again is is just think about your transitions, and then practice them. And we have a whole episode on transitions, why they matter and how to master them. That’s Episode 10. So if you’re interested, go check that out. But don’t. Don’t neglect thinking through your transitions and practice them. So at rehearsal with your band run through the transitions until things flow seamlessly and your band is comfortable. That’s step six of crafting and engaging worship set. That’s it for today. Let me know if this episode was helpful to you. You can actually leave me a voicemail on my website by clicking the link in the show notes. And please help us out by forwarding this on to someone you think it might help by leaving us a review on iTunes and by subscribing.

Alex Enfiedjian 27:47 And again, please check out worship pads by core sound I’m serious. They sound fantastic. And you get 20 bucks off the deluxe bundle by entering w el tee podcast at checkout. God bless you guys as you lead your church this weekend and lead them well pick your songs well and help them engage this Sunday. And I will see you back next month for another great episode.

Unknown Speaker 28:10 Bye Alex Enfiedjian 00:11 Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the worship leader training podcast. This is a monthly topical training podcast for worship leaders and worship teams. And the reason it’s monthly as opposed to weekly is because I would rather give you one super solid, in depth, high quality, practical helpful episode a month instead of four kind of decent ones. And I need time to do that. And I also want to respect your time, I’d rather give you one great episode a month that you can chew on and think about, instead of fill up your podcast queue. And you have to feel like you have to rush through all this content. I want to give you some free space and some mental space to focus on your own projects, and your own ministries and your own families. So that’s why it’s monthly. And it’s topical, because I really have a desire to create an archive of relevant, easily searchable themes. That’ll be helpful, particularly for new worship leaders. But even for veteran worship leaders who are kind of wrestling with a specific topic, I’d love for you to be able to look at the list of episodes and know exactly what you’re going to get when you click that episode to listen. So I do enjoy listening to other podcasts that do artist interviews, but I only bring on an artist or a celebrity if I feel like they can address a specific topic in a helpful way. So now you know a little bit about what we’re trying to do here. So welcome, especially if you’re new Welcome. Today is Episode 25 of the podcast. And we’re gonna be talking about six steps to help build an engaging worship set. And I think all of us who listen to this podcast want to see our churches engage more during musical worship. And I have found that song selection is very critical to seeing the kind of engagement that we want to see. So that’s, that’s what we’re going to talk about. And I’m excited to share this episode with you. But first, I’m super excited to share our first ever podcast sponsor. Now here’s my promise to you about sponsors, I promise to you that when I have a sponsor on the podcast, I will only ever bring you products that I personally use that I personally love. And that I think will actually help you in your ministry. So I’m not gonna just bring you stuff so that I can make money, I’m bringing you stuff that I really believe in. And that I think will actually help you if you decide to use it. And that’s that’s exactly the case with our first sponsor, core sound pads. Core sound pads is a new set of worship pads, you know, that ethereal sound that you hear in modern worship music, and they are incredible, I have used almost all of the available worship pads out there. And this set of worship pads that core sound has created is just fantastic. I’ve been using it for several weeks now. And they really fill out the sound of your worship team and they kind of fill in the gaps and fill in the spaces. And the coolest thing I think about these these pads is that core sound has created multiple styles of pads. So you get obviously you get all the keys for each pad set. But each pad set has different textures, and different feelings to them. So you really can bring out the uniqueness of each song. The best way I can explain this to you is just to have you click the link in the show notes that says video demo, check it out. Watch it, you’ll see exactly why these are fantastic. It’s totally free to try. And if you decide to buy the deluxe bundle, which has all the different various sounds, our listeners get an exclusive $20 off coupon. And so what you do is you when you’re checking out you just type in w el tee podcast worship leader training podcasts w lt podcast at checkout. And then I’ll give you 20 bucks off the deluxe bundle. So check it out. And I’ll probably do an episode on how to use pads in worship in the next few months. Because really, that’s been a game changer for me and for my teams and for my church is when I started using these ethereal backing pads in our worship sets. So that’s it for today’s sponsor, check them out. Let’s jump into our topic for today six steps to crafting engaging worship sets. So from October 2015 to June 2016. I took a break from full time paid ministry I was still volunteering and serving at a church playing different instruments and leading from time to time but I had a lot more freedom and it allowed me to travel and see different churches and attend different churches with my wife and just participate in worship. And at some of them I was super encouraged by the intentionality and the leadership in the song sets but I’m telling you in a lot of churches, I was disheartened by the seeming randomness and lack of planning during the times of musical worship. I mean, in a lot of the churches, it seemed like the worship leader worship pastor just reached his hand into a hat and pulled out five songs at random. Or maybe he just picked his five favorite songs and threw them at his worship team without much thought. Now, the interesting thing was engagement from the congregation at churches like this was very low. Even at big churches, with great sound and epic production, the congregation just wasn’t engaged. And if you’re like me, you want to do your best to craft beautiful, engaging, worshipful God honoring sets. I mean, that’s what we strive for. And so after visiting a couple churches like this, I decided to write an E book to hopefully help worship leaders see more engagement in their churches through thoughtful set planning, because the songs that we choose, and the order that they are in is probably one of the most important factors in constructing a powerful engaging worship service. Songs well picked and songs well placed, engage the whole person, the emotional side, the intellectual side, and the spiritual side. And so I have kind of put these six steps together as an attempt at that. And for some of you who are worship leaders who have been doing this for a long time, you might do these things intuitively, you may never have put words to it or kind of thought of it in a formula, you just kind of do these things naturally. And that’s great. And I’m just going to be putting words to what you do each week. But for some of those of you who are newer at this thing called worship leading, this might be a new grid for you by which to think about song selection. So one last thing, before we get into the six steps, there is a lot of content here. And I will try not to be boring. But if you are someone who would rather look at this with your eyes and kind of see the thought and the progression. This is from the ebook that I wrote called crafting incredible worship sets. And you can get it for free on my website. If you go to Alexon music comm slash books, it’s free, you just got to enter your email. Or if you’re like, I don’t want you to have my email Alex because you’re a creeper, then you can get it for 99 cents on Amazon. And I’ll link both of those in the show notes. So, alright, let’s get into six steps. steps one through four will be about song selection, and steps five and six will be about song order. Step number one, pray before you start, stop. Okay, so it’s so important and it seems so dumb to say it but let’s pray you know, stop and ask God to guide

Alex Enfiedjian 07:43 you. Because he knows what your people need to be singing that week. He knows what they’ve been going through. He knows the truth that they need to sink into their hearts. And so let him guide you. And this is true, whether you’re picking your songs for weeks in advance, or the day before rehearsal, although I don’t recommend the ladder. So pray. And don’t underestimate the power of seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance to lead you to the right songs through this process. Alright, step number one, pray. Step number two, determine the theme determine the theme. The most powerful and cohesive worship services have some sort of theme or a thread running through the entirety of the service. You know, don’t just pick songs at random and don’t even just pick songs that you like. And you’re like, I’m gonna pick these five because I like these notes. Ask God to lead you to a theme for that week.

Alex Enfiedjian 08:38 You know, a common practice for worship leaders is to pick songs that correlate with the theme of the pastor sermon. So team up with your pastor, you know, get with him once a week. Ask him for his sermons ahead of time if possible. And if possible, ask him weeks in advance. What are you preaching on at the very least, asked him for scripture passages that he’ll be working out of ahead of time. You know, at my current church, the pastor’s have a title and a passage for each week for the coming months, okay, so they don’t really know exactly where they’re going to go in their sermon, but they have the passage and the text of the passage is enough for me. So grab the passage, read through it, and kind of just start thinking about the major themes that you’re seeing in the passage, because that’ll probably come out in your pastor sermon, and see which songs or themes come to your mind as you read it, read it once, twice, three times, and then go look at your master song list and pick up every song that has to do with that theme. Pick every song that fits with that passage. And again, not every song in your setlist your final set, your five song set has to be 100% on point with the theme because that would be near impossible. But having a couple of songs that correspond with the sermon really helped things subconsciously click in your congregations mind. So this is a special True for songs before the sermon or after the sermon, you know, the closer you can get those songs in line with your pastor’s theme, the better it’s going to be for your church. And really, the main idea here is just to be intentional, that the songs you choose are thematically tying together and are leading people intellectually. The congregants should feel this sort of thematic progression. One thing I will say about this, and we talked about this in Episode 23, with Bob kauflin. That means that the songs that you choose need to have clear and comprehensible lyrics not vague Christian phrases that many modern worship songs have leaned towards. So go check out Episode 23, with Bob kauflin, if you’re interested in that, but you got to have songs that really say something clearly, if you’re going to try to have a thematic progression through your set. And you might be saying, Alex, Alex, my pastor refuses to give me his sermon beforehand. And to that I say, I’m very sorry, that’s like super hard. See if you can meet with him, see if you can compromise, at least ask him pastor, please, can I just have the passage for next Sunday, if you can just pick that ahead of time that would help me so much to lead better just, you know, tell him that your heart is to lead the church better and see if he’s willing to help if he will not cooperate. I know that many worship leaders adhere to kind of the Isaiah six method of song selection, where the songs move, basically read the Isaiah six passage and look at his response of worship. When he sees God it moves from praise to confession to salvation to Thanksgiving. So, if your pastor won’t give you sermon theme, you know, use the Isaiah six method of song selection that might be a help to you. But the main point of Step two is to be intentional, and having your songs thematically tied together. And that leads us to step three. Step Three of crafting an engaging song set for your congregation is, know your audience. Step three is know your audience. So by the end of step two, you’ve kind of looked at all these songs, you got maybe 50 songs that fit your theme. But by the time you get through step three, and four, that number is going to be way knocked down. Because as you look at all the songs from step two, now, picture your audience, ask yourself the question, Who am I leading? What is their age? Okay, like, are they 50 6070? Primarily? Or are they 15 2025? Primarily, you know, what is their age? What is their stylistic preference? What are they facing in their lives right now? Where is our church at in its journey? Why do we need to be singing as a church? What songs do they already know and love and connect with? Because your congregation should determine your song choice, okay, a small church of 50 to 60 year olds in the rural Midwest, farming town somewhere, probably isn’t going to connect very well with the Hillsong young and free song. Even though that very same same song worked awesome at youth camp last week, it’s not going to connect with the 5060 or 70 year olds, in your small rural

Alex Enfiedjian 13:22 church, you know, so, picture the congregation and ask the question, How can I best serve this group of people through the songs that I choose? That’s step three, know your audience. And step four is a corollary to step three, know your band, know your band, because not all bands can pull off all songs. You know, if your band consists of two acoustic guitar players and a cone, you’re probably not going to effectively pull off those huge stadium worship anthems that you hear Jesus culture play, I mean, you can turn those back. But if you try to do those songs in the same way, it’s gonna fall flat. So that’s gonna determine your song choice right there, Oh, I can’t do one thing remains very well with a guitar and a home. So as you pick your songs for this upcoming Sunday, or for three Sundays from now, it’s really important to consider who is playing with you that week. And there are two things, two factors to consider. When you’re thinking about your band, one is instrumentation. And the second is talent. So let’s talk about instrumentation. When you’re thinking about what songs to pick, and you’re looking at the team for that week, What instruments do you have at your disposal? You know, if you have a couple of guitars in a jam Bay, and that’s it, playing a song like great I am isn’t going to be so great. So instead, you need to look at the instrumentation and pick songs with a more acoustic vibe. But on the other hand, if you look at your team and you’re like wow, look at all these instruments I have at my disposal. I’ve got this huge team to electric guitars a synth a piano, you know, drummer and percussionist, well ask which songs can I do to take advantage of all the instrumentation I have at my disposal, and pick songs that will utilize all those textures that you have in your arsenal for that week. And just take advantage of that bigger sound. So ask yourself which songs will take advantage of the bigger sound, or which songs need to be toned down from my smaller more acoustic band. So, instrumentation. The other half of that is talent. Talent is very important too, because not everyone on your team is equally gifted or experienced. And you need to keep that in mind when you’re choosing your songs. So the drummer who struggles just to keep tempo should not be given songs that are overly technical, have tons of breaks, weird tricky beats, now you have to pick songs that work with that drummers talent ability. So that’s going to limit your song choice to you’ve got to take that into consideration. And I’m not saying you should never stretch your team’s musically, but definitely keep in mind their current abilities as you pick songs for the coming week. Okay, so let’s go through the steps one pray to determine the theme. Three, know your audience for know your band. And now you’ve got your big list of 50 songs when you started picking the themes, and you’ve now you’re like, Okay, well, what is my church like? And what can my band play? Now you’re down to probably five to 15 songs that are looking like they might work. Okay. So that’s, that’s where we move to step five. And we start taking those five to 15 songs and trying to figure out what’s the best order. And as you do that, you’re going to quickly find which ones make the final cut. So step five now is you take your list of 15 songs, or 10 songs or seven songs, and you start trying to put them in order. Step five, is choosing song order. And I would say that song order is just as important as song selection, because the order of songs have to flow together musically, emotionally. And thematically. And that’s, that’s a pretty difficult task, you know, and it doesn’t have to be perfect each week, right? I mean, we’re never going to get this 100% perfect 100% of the time, but it is something to aim for. How can I make my songs flow together musically, emotionally and thematically. And I think there are three filters that help us determine our song order. So you got your list of songs 15 songs, here are three filters, I call them to run those songs through to determine the order and which ones make the final cut those three filters that will help you are tempo, key, and focus. So tempo tempos, obviously, are the speed of the songs, okay.

Alex Enfiedjian 17:56 And

Alex Enfiedjian 17:57 the idea here is that you don’t want to set full of fast songs only. And you don’t want to set full of slow songs only I did a set full of slow songs four weeks ago, because I had like, really strong vocalists. And we just did a bunch of hymns. And I had a couple people say, well, that felt like a dirge. So you don’t want all fast or you don’t want all slow. So you have to have the right amount of each tempo. So many worship leaders, they’ll start with fast songs of praise, like upbeat, high energy. And this is a good tactic because it actually brings a lot of energy and passion and joy to the room. And it gets people moving and clapping and responding with their bodies. And usually when people engage with their bodies, their spirits are quick to follow. There’s just something about the way God made us that our bodies and our spirits work together. So if you can get people clapping, or lifting their hands, or you know, whatever, that usually helps their spirits start to engage as well. So upbeat songs are a good way to start. So many worship leaders will go from fast songs of praise to a couple of mid tempo songs of confession and worship, and then end with some big slow epic anthems of God’s amazing glory. And this tends to be a good pattern, it works well for me, and it’s kind of the pattern that I follow on a weekly basis, but it’s not a hard and fast rule. You really have to find what works best for your people. So that’s the first filter the tempo look at your song list, considered the tempo filter, now you’re looking at your 15 songs, how many of them are fast? Do you have too many fast ones? Do you have too many mid tempo ones too many slow ones. Alright, which ones are you going to cut because you can’t do them all. So the next filter of song order is keys. We want to run our songs through the keys filter, because certain keys don’t go well together. And you want to make sure that your your song keys flow nicely from one song to the next. And a really good trick for this is to use something called relative keys. And a relative key is simply this, the one chord, or the four chord, or the five chord of a key can easily be your next song. So if you don’t know music theory, that’s okay. In the in the back of my ebook, there’s a chart that shows you each key and the relative keys for that key, so you can grab that. But the idea is this. So if you’re in the key of G, your next song could flow easily from G if it were in G, which is the one chord, so you can go from G to G, or you can go from G to C, which is the four chord, or you can go from G to D, which is the five chord. So in each key, you have three options for your next song. It doesn’t have to be this way, you know, you could break it up with a drum beat in between keys. But if you want your keys to flow, check out the relative key theory where you go from one key to a song in a relative key. Here’s a practical example of how that might look. Let’s say you’re playing Your love never fails. And you and by playing a minor, C, D, and E and in the D, which is the five chord, and then you start 10,000 reasons in the key of D, there you go, you just transition keys very smoothly. So that’s a that’s a filter, you want to be looking at with your with your song choices, as you whittle down that final set into your five or six songs. And I have a couple other thoughts before we move on from the keys thing. I personally, you could do whatever you want. I try not to change keys too many times per worship set. So once or maximum twice in a four song set, I don’t want to change keys every single song. And I know some worship leaders do that, and it works for them. But I like to kind of do too in G go to D and then end an A or something like that. If you decide to play all four songs or five songs in the same key, it can become really monotonous. So I would caution you against doing all your songs in the same key unless you get really creative with your band arrangements to make each song sound unique. And then finally, the last thing I would say about your key choices is as you consider the key filter makes sure that your keys are easy for your congregation to sing. Because this whole podcast is about creating sets that help your people engage. But if your people can’t hit the notes, they’re not going to engage, they’re going to fold their arms and they’re going to watch you sing really high notes and sound awesome. But this is about them singing. So make sure as you pick keys and you think about which songs to do that you’re picking keys that are helpful for your congregation. Alright, the final filter, then

Alex Enfiedjian 22:54 in your song order, is the focus filter. And what I mean by this is I have found it good to end with strong God focus songs of adoration. And you have kind of been moving your people from the outer courts to the inner courts. And now it’s time to move to the Holy of Holies. You know, you want the most God focused God centered, powerful, intense songs at the end of your set. Examples of such songs would be revelation song, it’s such a good song to end the set with are great I Am, you know, holy, holy God Almighty. Great I Am. That’s so God focused or Jesus paid it all. You sing all about what he did for you. And then you think, oh, praise someone who pay my debt. I mean, that is such a god focused Jesus focus song, how great is our God. So you want to end your set with the focus being all about Jesus. He is the capstone of the set, his character, his work, his power, his holiness, his love. It captivates us. It’s like the last song or two, you want people to get this good, long look at Jesus, and it makes them in awe of him. And I found that ending your sets with God centered songs really helps bring a sense of completion to the worship experience. It’s like this, like, we just we just saw the king, we just worshipped him. So as you’re putting your songs in order, I would encourage you to end with God centered God focused songs. So those are the three filters to help you determine song order, tempo, key and focus. And I’ll say something real quick. Those aren’t necessarily filters that you’re doing in a specific order. They’re kind of all happening simultaneously. As you puzzle piece this thing together. It’s not like first I do tempo, then I do key then I do focus now. It’s really kind of happening all at once. And I’ll also Let’s say as you put your final set together, don’t forget all of the other elements you have at your disposal, for example, tags from other songs on a stick a tag in between to songs, or scripture readings, or ancient Creed’s, or corporate readings, or times of reflection or communion, prayer, or even videos. So, you know, don’t just stick to songs if if you want use these other things that can really enhance your worship time. Okay, so now you’ve got your set in order and we move to the very last step in this process. The final step to crafting and engaging worship set is to plan your transitions. And I would say that this is so important because if things don’t flow, well, it’ll rip your people out of the moment. You know what I mean? We want to eliminate as many distractions as humanly possible. So we can help people focus on Jesus. Like, we don’t want to be fumbling from one song or one service element to the next because we didn’t practice it enough, or we didn’t put enough thought into it. We don’t want to do that. You know, you don’t want to be having your church wait around while you adjust your cable or you tune or you move your sheet music. You know, if you use sheet music, then get a music stand, extend or they’re 20 bucks, you can lay all your meet all your songs out, and you can see them in order. And you don’t have to fumble with paper in between songs. Or if you need to put on a cable or tune, then have the piano player start or have the drummer and the bass player start. Just think about how am I going to get from one song to the next smoothly without distracting my congregation. And this is where Honestly, this is where those worship pads that I talked about at the beginning. That is a great way to eliminate awkward silence between songs because it keeps the atmosphere in between songs or while you’re praying. The main point here again is is just think about your transitions, and then practice them. And we have a whole episode on transitions, why they matter and how to master them. That’s Episode 10. So if you’re interested, go check that out. But don’t. Don’t neglect thinking through your transitions and practice them. So at rehearsal with your band run through the transitions until things flow seamlessly and your band is comfortable. That’s step six of crafting and engaging worship set. That’s it for today. Let me know if this episode was helpful to you. You can actually leave me a voicemail on my website by clicking the link in the show notes. And please help us out by forwarding this on to someone you think it might help by leaving us a review on iTunes and by subscribing.

Alex Enfiedjian 27:47 And again, please check out worship pads by core sound I’m serious. They sound fantastic. And you get 20 bucks off the deluxe bundle by entering w el tee podcast at checkout. God bless you guys as you lead your church this weekend and lead them well pick your songs well and help them engage this Sunday. And I will see you back next month for another great episode.

Unknown Speaker 28:10 Bye