Prep: Part 1-The Leader

How do you prepare for a Worship Set? In this post I will focus on preparation for leading worship as it pertains to the Band leader.


Psalm 27:8 says “My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek.” I like how the New Living Translation puts it by saying “My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.””

How can you tell people about someone you don’t know. How can you sing a love song when you’ve never been in love? How can you hear from someone if you never listen? How can you lead people where you’ve never been yourself?

How can we lead people in prayer and worship if that is not a part of our lives as worship leaders? I find that many of the songs we do on Sunday morning are the songs I’ve sung to the Lord on my own during the week.

Have you ever heard someone pray and thought “is this is the first time they prayed since the last prayer meeting?” That’s a bad thing for someone to think about a worship leader and I’ve thought it about more than one person. Think I’m judgmental? Go to a prayer meeting and tell me I’m wrong.

Ever hear someone talk about how they felt lead to sing a certain song? How can they have heard the leading of the Spirit without being engaged in a conversation through prayer?


Let’s talk about the unimportant stuff first. Read blogs. Read articles. Read Magazines. Read books. Read. Read to learn more about how to effectively lead a team, administrate your ministry and have a better mastery of your art and instrument that you use to lead the people of God in the praise of God. That is important and useful.

It is not, however as important or as useful as reading your Bible. What worshipper can sing the praises of God if they know nothing about God. How can you say Jesus is worthy if you don’t know what Jesus is worthy of? How can you be lead by The Spirit if you don’t know what God the Spirit says about Himself and His work? Read your Bible!

The sad truth is that people get too much of their theology from the songs they here. More so than bible reading or bible teaching. This is a shameful reality that I believe is also a very true reality in many churches. As worship leaders, the more biblical we are in our knowledge and thinking, the more biblical our song choices will be, the more biblical our prayers (public and private) will be, and the more biblical our expression and liturgy will be.


There is far too little thinking in modern worship culture but we can be a part of the change. Think. Think. Then Think some more.

At my church, preparation for a worship set list starts weeks or months earlier. We establish a song list we call “The Hymnal” for each season (Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall). We are currently putting the Fall Hymnal together. The more Pentecostal among us have complained that this limits the Holy Spirit’s leading us in song selection. My response is that God is more than capable to lead us 3 months before a Sunday as He is to lead us 3 days before a Sunday. When we put this song list together we “love the Lord our God…with all our mind”.

I also think in the week or so before leading when I put a set list together. I think about the songs I’m picking. Do they flow together, what Keys am I playing in? Where are the capo changes? What is the overall flow of the list? Are there new songs?


I don’t want to do a new song unless I know that song inside and out. I want to know my set list, where it ebbs and flows, where all the changes are, what do i want the band to do? I have a system of notes and indicators that I make in the chord charts I send out to the band to indicate how I want the song arranged. There is nothing worse than a worship leader who makes a habit of “winging it”. I can’t lead the band, let alone the church if I don’t know the songs and the set.


Like I said, Winging It is bad. Can I get away with it once and a while? Sure. Have I been woken up by a 6am phone call saying the other worship leader has the flu and I need to shower, dress, put a set together and be at the church in 40 minutes? Yes I have. But that’s not the norm and neither should a lack of preparation. I make time each week to practice. My wife is very good about letting me have some time, it’s different each week, but we make it happen. I work 40-50 hours a week. I lead the music ministry and a home group. I want to spend as much time as possible with my wife and son. I know about being busy. I need to practice, you need to practice, and I believe that 9 times out of 10 we can find the time.


9 times out of 10. These are principles of preparation. You will have bad weeks. You will have times when life doesn’t go along with your plans. But if we can have a good week 8 or 9 times out of 10 we are doing really well in the service of Jesus and His church.

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