Flow In A Worship Set
Featuring John Telman Posted on November 13, 2008
One Pastor expressed his desire to see "unbroken" worship. He explained that worship should have a flow that is not disrupted. As worship leaders, we understand this concern. We desire to see the church experience a genuine connection with God during the musical segment of the service. We will rehearse with the team, spend time in prayer, and try to avoid disruptions. So much so that we can become trapped in a mechanical, even sensual direction, forgetting Paul's exhortation to "sing with the spirit and with understanding" (I Corinthians 14:15). So, how do we break the cycle and create a strong flow that will move the congregation along like a boat in a strong river current?
A flow will be created by matching songs that have similar rhythm patterns. All too often I hear worship leaders concerning themeselves with the key signatures of songs. However, most musicians are not concerned about the key a song is in. Transitioning from one song to another will not break the flow if a key change is needed. In other words, songs do not need to be in the same key to create flow. Instead, link songs together that use the same meter. For example, "Jesus, Name Above all Names", which is in triple meter flows well with "Beautiful Saviour". It is also vital to make sure the songs linked together are close in tempo. "Hosanna" (Brenton Brown) and "Days of Elijah" flow well together musically.
It is equally important to lead into a song with an intensity that matches or that moves you to the next level. Distraction can happen if songs make you feel like you're on a roller coaster. This is all true when trying to medley songs, but we also have the option of allowing people to verbally worship between songs. The musicians should be comfortable with this kind of transition. One caution is that this should not be overdone as it can also become a distraction.
It is not uncommon for worship leaders to be more concerned about the flow musically and miss an opportunity to make a real impact through the lyrics. The music can flow nicely but the words must also flow. The songs that flow together lyrically are those that move in the same direction. For example, most worship leaders logically place a song that calls everyone together to worship at the beginning of the set. But, then what?
When using a combination of horizontal songs, (eg "Rock of Ages"- Baloche), and vertical songs (eg "You Are Good" - Houghton), the human psyche moves best from the horizontal to the vertical. Moving back and forth in direction can confuse people. This is best demonstrated by the fact that a lot of people in our congregations are closing their eyes and lifting their hands on horizontal songs, which is not appropriate.
Choosing the songs to create a flow will be challenging. Sometimes the church's repetoire of songs is inadequate to create a fresh and yet flowing combination week after week. Instead of looking for the "popular" songs, try considering rhythms and lyrical topics when expanding a master list.
Preparing the Team
Once a worship set is created, review the rhythmic and thought flow with your team so that they are "on the same page" mentally and emotionally. This will improve the presentation and leadership for the congregation.
By considering flow both musically and lyrically, we can place people in the currents of the Spirit to finally experience the ocean depths of God's life changing presence.