Face it, planning songs for worship can be hard. But if you’re stuck, there are a few things you can do. Before you start thinking about keys, tempos, or just playing through random chords, use the best tool you have: your pastor.
Your pastor has spent a lot of time thinking through this sermon. There is a clear message he is going for. Ask him to summarize that message in one sentence. Plan your songs around that theme.
Also, since the sermon will have three or four main points, ask your pastor what they are. Choose songs that drive these points home. This will help the congregation rejoice in the glorious truths of the gospel.
Best yet, your pastor writes his sermons out. If you can, get your hands on the manuscript and read it with pen in hand. Write down whatever songs come to mind.
For example, when I read this highlighted section of a recent sermon, the song O Great God by my friend Bob Kauflin came to mind. The song is based on a prayer from The Valley of Vision, and has a line “Then your Spirit gave me life / Opened up your Word to me”. I thought it served well to amplify this point.
In another part of the sermon manuscript my pastor used the phrase “living from the inside out”. I wrote down “From the Inside Out” – a song by Hillsong United whose chorus includes these lyrics:
In my heart and my soul
Lord I give you control
Consume me from the inside out,
Lord, let justice and praise
Become my embrace
To love you from the inside out
A third song came to mind from this sermon. As I read the conclusion, I highlighted the question of looking to the world to satisfy what only God can satisfy. It made me think of an old Sovereign Grace song, “I Will Glory in My Redeemer”.
Here’s the beginning of the second verse:
I will glory in my Redeemer
My life He bought, my love He owns
I have no longings for another
I’m satisfied in Him alone
I hope this helps. I know it keeps me honest as a worship leader. If you want a more exciting way to plan worship, try this…