"We speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts." - 1 Thessalonians 2:4
Whether you were at church, at home or while driving to somewhere, can you remember a time when you listened to a song and said to yourself, wow, this is a powerful song and it is really speaking to me in a powerful and meaningful way? The song was probably so impactful that it continued replaying in your mind and in your heart throughout that day or maybe throughout the entire week. You could hear yourself singing or humming that memorable hook line throughout the day. Has that ever happened to you? It happens to me a lot. Why was this song so powerful and moving for me? What kind of effect did the words of this song have on my life? And how did it impact the way I saw and approached my life situation? Was I ever the same after hearing that song? My friends, songs are powerful and filled with purpose for our everyday lives. Just reading (Isaiah 61:1) is a wonderful reminder of this truth, that each song you select is not only anointed, but has power and purpose behind it. Power to bind up the broken hearted and proclaim freedom to the captives.
As worship leaders, why are the songs we select so important? Let me first begin by saying, we do not select songs just because they sound cool. We do not select songs just because they are popular on iTunes. We do not select songs just because that one popular church wrote it. The selection of our songs serve a much deeper and greater purpose and here is why it matters. Songs are powerful. Songs are inspirational. Songs are filled with powerful truth that moves us emotionally and spiritually. Songs have the power to shape hearts, minds, culture, and our congregations vision and theology of God. Songs help usher people into an awareness of God’s presence. And songs give us a clearer revelation of who Jesus is and who He is in us as believers. I remember hearing once, that “our song selection isn’t so much about hearing them, as it is experiencing them”. I so agree with this statement, but imagine with me for a moment, what if we turn it around here, what if our song selection wasn’t so much about experiencing them, but were more about just hearing them. What if we just picked random songs with no intention or heart behind it. Songs would just be meaningless and empty noise with no expectation for these songs to speak to our hearts, our minds, and over our life situations. What kind of experience would that be for us and our congregation? I think it would be a very empty, boring, pretty silly, and meaningless experience? Read the following scripture to see how God has reacted in the past to this type of meaningless noise Amos 5:21-23. God’s Word reminds us, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what is says” (James 1:22). When we come together to give God praise and worship, we come believing that we will meet with our creator, our God, our Father, our Savior, and our King and never again be the same after such an encounter.
A.W. Tozer said, “What comes into our minds when we talk about God
is the most important thing about us.”
Every week, people from all walks of life come through our church doors with real situations, real needs, real brokenness, and real tragedies. Real people waiting to hear from God. Real people longing for God to move in supernatural ways. Real people seeking and desiring real change. Real people longing to experience the God’s unconditional love, mercy and grace. Real people hoping to experience something real and powerful during our time together in worship. I know this to be true, because when I come to church, whether when I’m serving on the platform or sitting among the congregation, I too come with a longing to meet and hear from my Father, hoping that he too would speak into the areas of my life as a believer and follower of Christ (read Psalms 33:20-22 & Luke 4:18-19). This is why our role as worship leaders is so crucial and important. It is God putting all that is precious to Him into our hands and saying to you and I, I am entrusting you with this. It is a time when we as the body of Christ can come together to declare who God is. To remember what God has accomplished. To see and hear what God is saying and doing among us. And to put our faith once again in a God who is faithful, who is for us, and who is still very much with us. Yes, it’s exciting to prepare another setlist and maybe even introduce a new song to our team and to our congregation, but more importantly, you and I have been entrusted by God with His gospel message and with His people. So whether leading worship at a Wednesday small group setting or leading worship at a Sunday corporate church setting, you and I have the honor of re-telling the story of God to His people. You and I have the honor of preparing a place where our congregation can engage a real God who so desires to meet with us in the real places of our lives.
“If we were to build a theology only based on the songs you sing at church, what kind of God would that be? What kind of God would be described by the lyrics of your setlist this weekend? Think about those things.” - Glenn Packiam.
Our songs may have great melodic hooks and memorable lyrical lines, yes, those things are important as well, but let us not forget that our songs also have a message that has the power to cause real change in the hearts of real people. A message so powerful, that it is “living and active and sharper than any two-edge sword. Penetrating even dividing the soul and spirit; joints and marrow; and judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrew 4:12).
Whether they are the songs we sing at our church; Whether they are the songs we sing in our quite time in prayer; Whether they are the songs we sing on the battlefield; And whether they are the songs we sing during tragedy or during dark seasons in our lives...Songs are not only a gift from God, but songs can be a powerful way for us to invite Him into the real stories of our lives. And it is in those moments, we can be reminded once again, that he is still our God, he is still our Savior, and he still our King who has never left us nor forsaken us. A God who loves us unconditionally. A Savior who is fully present in it all. And a King who leads us into victory on the battlefields. This is the song I will sing and this is the song that will live in me. These are the songs that sing over us and these are the songs that will transform us from glory to glory, Amen, Amen, and Amen! (read 2 Corinthians 3:18)
Biblical examples of the power and purpose of a song: 2 Chronicles 20:17-22; Joshua 6:20; 1 Samuel 16:23; Acts 16:25-34
Some thoughts to take into consideration when selecting songs for your next setlist.
May the Lord bless you and keep you Worship Leader.