How to Set up a Worship Set

Did you want to have a successful worship song set? This article will explain how to worship in a way that is both easy to play, and allows others to worship uninterrupted as well.


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    Listen to God. If God wants you to play a specific song, and you are close enough in your relationship with him, he will tell you specific songs to play. However, don't mix the voice of God with your voice saying "Ooh I really like this song." You'll know it's from God if you don't know why you should be playing it. This is extremely important as you don't want to miss what God is trying to tell his people.
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    Find out if the pastor/leader wants you to play any specific songs. Maybe you can incorporate one or two of those.
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    Find out who you are leading worship for. Depending on the crowd, you are going to want to use different types of music. In some situations you'll want to use hymns like "Be thou my vision", in others you'll want to use older songs like "Every move I make", in others you'll want brand new songs like "10,000 reasons" or "Our God is Greater", and in some other situations you will want to combine all three. Generally this has to do with the people within the church and not the type of church it is, so go up to the pastor, worship leader, or some type of leader, and ask them to list off a few songs they normally play and base your song choice off of that.
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    Find out any important "topic" information. If you are playing for someone else who is speaking, which you probably will be, you will want to try to match your songs with the topic of the speaking. For instance, if the speaker is talking about how we should do everything as if we were doing it for Christ, you might want to play "Every move I make" or "Jesus Paid it all", or anything that is related to the words to be spoken.
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    Make a list of possible songs with their original key. Once you have all the information about the types of songs you want to use, you are going to want to put all options into a list with their keys next to them. If you don't know the keys, look them up online and you should be able to find the key information, and if not, just guess what you think it might be in. Of course, if God told you any specific songs you will want to have those in their as well, even if they don't match the style of the church or the message.
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    Find out how many songs you are expected to play. If you end up having too many songs for the time allotted, you will have to stop early and the set will sound unfinished. If you have too few songs, the set will sound awkward; you may have to fill time by playing again, one of the songs you already played! This is to be avoided at all costs. Find out how many songs you have time for, when you will be playing them, and whether or not they are split up. For example, the venue could tell you that you will be playing eight songs, so you set up those eight songs, but when you get there you find out you are playing four songs before the message and four songs after, which screws up the transitions you made for the 4th and 5th song.
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    Find any combinations of songs that go together. This is where the keys come in. Find songs that have the same, or close to the same, key. Example a song in B flat and a song in C are close enough together to be considered similar as you can change the key of one or even both of the songs without making any drastic changes. These songs will go together quite well, especially if they are in the same time signature. One thing that really makes worship awkward is when the worship team finishes a song, it becomes completely quiet, and the crowd starts hearing the movement of capos on guitars. you are going to want to make easy transitions, and this means either having the songs in the same key, or similar keys. Once you have the songs that go together, you are ready for the next step.
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    Arrange the songs. While setting up the arrangement, you want to make sure you keep similar songs together, to make smooth transitions. If it's not possible, don't fret, it's not that big of a deal. Once you are completely done with the arrangement of songs, move on to the next step. There are multiple ways to set up a set depending on how many songs you are playing and when you are playing them. You will want to play upbeat songs early, normal songs in the middle, and intimate songs towards the end. If you are playing a lot of songs, six or more, before the message, you will want to start off with upbeat songs that get people on their feet, like "Sing Sing Sing" by Chris Tomlin or "Your Love Never Fails" by Jesus Culture. Around halfway, get into a normal tempo like "Better is One Day", then towards the end drop down to intimate like "This is The Air I Breathe", or "Prepare the Way". If you are playing fewer songs before the message (four or five) you will want to keep the same structure, but keep it more on the upbeat side throughout. Don't go all the way intimate. If you are playing just a couple songs before the message, (one to three) you will want to keep the same style throughout, preferably upbeat or normal. If you are playing many songs after the message, you will want to start off with an intimate feeling, then halfway through get all the way up to upbeat, then back down to normal or even intimate. If you are playing a few songs after the message, you will want to do the same structure as a lot of songs, but on the intimate side, meaning don't have the upbeat songs. If you are playing just a couple of songs after the message, keep them the same tempo, preferably normal or intimate.
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    Arrange a split set. Now, this whole thing changes a lot when your set is split up like the example above. If you are playing a lot of songs both before and after, play upbeat songs up front, then slow down to more normal songs towards the middle, then speed up right before the message to upbeat. After the message, start off with some really slow intimate songs, speed up to normal, and end with intimate. This is at variance with the prior step. The reason you want to do this is because, if you are playing more than six songs before and after the message, you risk tiring out your crowd's attention span. So you need to mix it up. If you go to see a band play live, notice that they throw in some random really upbeat or really intimate songs so you keep listening, and you want this same thing in worship, because, otherwise, they will stop worshipping. If you are playing a few songs before, start with upbeat and end with normal. The rest of the information is the same as above.
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    Figure out transitions. You want to keep the music flowing from one song to the next, and not have any sudden stops. When the next song is in the same key, keep playing the chord progression on an acoustic guitar very lightly and then change the progression according to the next song and continue. If two adjoining songs aren't in the same key, you can possibly make it sound like they are in the same key, for instance if you are playing a song in C and are changing to a song in G, you can keep playing C and G over and over again as they are in both C key and G key, then change to the G progression and it won't be at all noticeable unless your a musician. Even if there is just one note that's the same within the two keys, you might be able to have your guitarist keep playing that note and then continue in the next key once someone starts playing the new chord progression. Another way is to have the drummer keep playing and then have the rest of the band join in after changing keys. This can sound great if done right. If none of those are possibilities, have someone on your team pray or give a brief message while someone else starts playing the new chords. The audience will pay attention to the voice and not the music.
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    Submit the list for approval, to whomever is in charge. This is crucial. This both tells them that you care about their feedback, and makes certain you don't offend anyone. Some churches may have spiritual or policy disagreements with certain songs.
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    Practice, Practice, Practice. Most part time worship teams less frequently than is optimal. Practice at least once a week, if not more. This will both ensure that you remember what you are doing, and will help you focus more on God, rather than on the music, while leading worship.
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    Play and have fun. Don't get stressed out about this. God has it all under control. Don't feel nervous when you are playing. You are just playing for your brothers and sisters in Christ.

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Categories: Philosophy and Religion