We use 7 songs in our services..... an opener, a childrens song, a set of 4 in the middle, and the last one is for offering. I spend a great deal of time putting together sets of music, usually a couple weeks ahead of time, and then I think on it for awhile. I dont necessarily "theme" the songs, unless requested by the pastor. I look for flow, tempo, making sure they aren't all in the same key, and go in the direction that the Lord is leading me in that week.
Some people tell me they throw sets together in 5 minutes....I dont think I could ever do that.
BTW, I've been leading for one year now....a bit of a rookie compared to some of you!
Just curious about how much time other leaders spend.....

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I don't take very long. Maybe 5 mins of focused time. But that's because I have song combinations stewing in the back of my mind almost all the time. So when I have to lead worship I'll mentally flip through my set lists, look for something that'll fit the people, and go for it.

To clarify: I'm a musician, so I don't have to struggle very much with keys and all that. I know roughly what's a good key for each song I use and will plan my set so that I won't have any weird key jumps. :)
It varies with me. There are times that I will get a song in mind at the beginning of the week and have the rest of the week to plan out and build a set from there and then there are times that I am up late on Saturday nights, early Sunday morning, pulling songs together. Sometimes it may be a theme that comes to mind and then, like popcorn, the songs start popping and come together. I look for songs that flow together and compliment each other and help us draw close to the Lord and love on Him. I like to keep the worship songs at a pretty even tempo and not jump around from fast to slow to medium and back again. I have found it to be a bit frustrating when a leader would take us to the verge of entering into communion with the Lord and then switch up into a faster type song and take us back through the gates of praise again. Now there have been times when the Lord has directed us back into a more of a high praise type song and as we would be obedient His presence and glory became even more apparant.

I guess that it all comes down to be open to the Lord's leading, even when we are planning out the song list.
Hi Val,
I do 4 songs for the Pre-teens each Sunday. I actually spend a little more time with the songs, than when I did adult worship.
I am trying News Boys "He Reigns" for the first time and spent 5 hours learning it and charting it. I may spend around 10 hours in a week learning a new song, getting some idea of what I will talk to the kids about before we start playing...what Bible verse to read before a song, etc. We spend less time practicing because of having a few family members in the band...smile.
I just Chart it in my key...make measure lines, sketch timing of melody out, get the basic drum patterns written down, etc. and this is after God lays it on my heart to do the song...smile. Some weeks it was a lot shorter prep time if we did a set of songs we wanted to repeat for the kid's sake of "owning" the songs. I ask God to Guide me, but I don't struggle over putting the "approved and tested" songs in a 4 song set and doing them. The main thing I am trying to do is reach and speak to the kids through Worship.
My wife sings and doesn't understand why I spend so much time picking out songs, charting them, tweaking them, and practicing them. She thinks if a set of songs worked 2 months ago, we should just use a previous set and be done with it...smile. I have done that. I am trying to keep the kids fed with fresh words and music also, and that takes time and effort. I have a good example.
BTW, I do use Worship assistant and love this tool. It makes charting and keeping up with my songs so easy.
I couldn't live without it now. It even transposes the songs on demand...
Take care and keep worshiping and spending time doing what is important to God.
Sorry for the long reply.
Jeff L.
Thanks for your reply....I'm glad to know I am not the only one who will spend 5 hours learning and charting
songs! It's crazy but that is how it goes sometimes! It doesn't help that I am extremely picky and never use a pre-made chord chart....I always have to make my own, exactly the way I want it.

Our previous worship leader had a sampled loop for "He Reigns" and it sounded very close to the original. But he took it with him when he left. So I made my own on my keyboard sequencer and use that if I have a great drummer that week that can keep up with a loop/click track. If I have a shaky drummer, I just dont go there. I think that song is trickier to sing than to play! But such a great song.
I start the minute I walk out the doors Sunday afternoon and it could change the moment I walk on stage the next Sunday morning. We have two practices but that's just to get on the same page. Who knows till it happens.
Val, we do an average of 5 songs a Sunday, because we have two services back to back so we have to watch time. I'd love to go longer.

I will puzzle over my song set for a couple of days, making tweaks and adjustments. Then I post it to our church resource website for the team to see and practice with (we have mp3 files in a protected site that they can learn the songs from).

I would like to plan weeks in advance, but we have a 3-team rotation and I never know what the other leaders are going to pick. So I can't post my set list until I've seen theirs.

I also keep a song history list, which helps me look back to see what we've done, what has been done to death, and what hasn't been done enough. Hope this helps!
That sounds kind of similar to what we do. I do sometimes have to change my pre-planned list because the previous leader used one of the songs I was going to do.

I also started keeping a song history list....our church has 2 campuses and most of the leaders rotate between the 2....makes it VERY interesting trying to keep track of what songs are being done at what campus!

Another thing we started to use is Youtube or Godtube, to send links to the team so they can get familiar with new songs before practice. Seems to work pretty well, at least for the musicians that are motivated. There are always a couple who dont bother to learn the song no matter how much we provide for them ahead of time. But most have found these resources very helpful.
I'll have to check out Godtube...haven't been there yet.
Godtube has recently changed to tangle.com. I didn't know if everyone knew or not so I thought I would post it here. Blessings!
Good point: when you have to rotate with other worship leaders, do take their selection into account. They may introduce a new song that the congregation takes to, so you might want to jump in to help them reinforce that song the next week.

If you are the one introducing new songs, you'll really find your job easier if you know someone else will help you reinforce that song the following week. :) So do likewise.
If I am leading, it generally takes 2 to 3 evenings to prepare. Part of that is purely mechanical, developing the powerpoint file and getting all the words on slides, spell checking, getting scripture verses on slides, etc. But part is just praying and asking the Lord's guidance. I usually file the song sheets from the last worship service, and then go through my books of music, after praying. The Lord brings to mind various songs and what they mean as I turn the pages. As I get confirmation from the Lord, I pull out pages. After going through the book or books (or going through a master directory of songs on the computer, I generally have a large pile of songs. I may stop here for that day and then continue to seek the Lord, and to mentally go over those songs the next day. The next evening, I go through all of the pages I pulled out, and arrange them in an order that makes sense for a worship service (I have a model for a worship service). Then I look at keys, and rhythms to make sure they will flow. At this point, I usually have more songs than I have time, so I pare down to achieve the set. Having more songs than I can use is confirmation from the Lord that I have been on track. After this, I work up the powerpoint file and get scripture readings that apply to places in the worship set. This may seem awkward to you, but I have led worship for quite a few years, and the Lord has confirmed many times.
I have some songs that I feel are possibilities, but I always discuss choices with our team members because they may have some ideas as well. It may take about 10 minutes to finalize the set, but it's always subject to change during the course of rehersal as the spirit may make some suggestions or remove a song as well.


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