David Pickett gives us some advice …
Choosing which songs to play during worship can be a little daunting – especially as you are faced with choosing from a massive collection of songs in a variety of styles and types. I’ve found, at first, it can be a real challenge deciding what songs to play, but have learned a few tricks along the way that have made my choosing a lot easier.
Firstly, pick songs that you know you can play, or at least can learn, if you’re the one leading worship (the same applies to the band if you’re not playing). Although it’s always good to keep your “playable song list” updated and fresh, when it comes to picking songs for a worship set it’s always best to pick songs that you know you can play. This makes it easier for you to lead as you won’t be worrying so much about how to play the song. I find it much easier when I know the chords off by heart or at least have an idea of them; this stops you having to look down at the music all the time.
Also, I’ve found it can be hard to pick songs that are congregational in nature rather than just picking my favourite songs, but it’s really important that the congregation is able to sing along and that the songs are within reach of people’s ability. There’s nothing wrong with having a few songs that are more suited for the congregation to listen to, but people want to get involved and sing along, so let them by picking songs that they can get involved with.
Following on from this, picking songs that work together is an important theme whenever you’re picking music for worship. Whilst you don’t need to pick songs in the same key or in the same style, it’s good practice to make sure that the songs flow lyrically from one to another. I sometimes change theme from, say, Love to Grace or similar, however. Otherwise you might have one song about finding God’s love and how great it is followed by a song about searching deep for God’s love and not understanding it, which might not work next to each other. That’s not to say they definitely wouldn’t work, but as a general rule of thumb try to avoid this. I try to maintain a flowing set that doesn’t jolt around towards different ideas without purpose.
Overall, choosing music for worship can be challenging, but when you hear or see that the songs you chose have worked well, and you can see they are enabling people to worship God, it’s a great feeling.