worship leading

The 5 Pillars of Worship Leading

The 5 Pillars of Worship Leading

Being a well-rounded and effective worship leader requires a lot more than knowing how to play four chords on a guitar, having a decent voice, and wearing skinny jeans. A lot of aspiring worship leaders don’t have a firm grasp on the various facets of worship ministry. In this article, I’m going to share with you the five pillars of worship leading that are key for developing yourself as a worship leader and growing a healthy ministry.

How to play ambient worship pads on an iPhone or iPad

How to play ambient worship pads on an iPhone or iPad

In this article, I'll walk you through a step-by-step guide for playing ambient worship pads on your iPhone or iPad using the free Soundboard Studio Lite app.

How to play ambient worship pads on an Android device

How to play ambient worship pads on an Android device

In this article, you'll learn everything you need to know to play ambient worship pads on an Android device with the ability to loop and crossfade tracks.

The best place to find community and support online

Listen to the Podcast

Watch the Video

In this session of the Churchfront Podcast, I interview Tandy Adams, one of the admins of the Worship Leaders + Facebook Group.

Worship leading can sometimes feel like an isolating role at the local church, especially if you are unable to connect with other worship leaders in your local area. Facebook Groups are the best way to connect with other worship leaders online.

In this interview, Tandy shares the benefits of being a member of Worship Leaders +, one of the largest worship leader communities on the web with over 10,o00 members. She gives great advice on how to make the most of being a member and how to add value to others online.

Join the Worship Leaders + Facebook Group today!

Are you a member of the group? Say "hey" in the comments below and let me know where your listening/watching from!

10 benefits of using pads in worship

Utilizing pads in worship is an inexpensive and easy way to achieve a full sound whether you’re a solo worship leader or leading with a band. In this article, you’ll learn about the ten benefits of using pads in worship.

Pads have risen in popularity over the past few years for worship ministries. For years I’ve run backing tracks using Ableton Live but little did I realize the benefits of using pads in my worship sets. It wasn’t until I started using pads regularly over the past few months that I experienced the many benefits of implementing them in worship.

Do you use pads in your worship services? Let me know in the comments below. Whether you do or not, make sure you read this article to the end because I have a gift to help you get up and running with pads today.

Here are the seven benefits of implementing pads in your worship ministry.

1. Achieve a full sound

Pads are probably the least expensive and simplest way to fill out the sound of your worship band. We all want our worship bands to have a full sound. But as I worship leader, I know how tough it is to achieve a full sound with your traditional instruments like an acoustic guitar, drums, piano, and bass guitar. Pads fill in the cracks and make your band sound so much more full.

2. Achieve a modern sound

Have you noticed the sound of worship music is becoming increasingly reliant on computer-generated synthesizers? Ambient pad sounds are a distinctive feature of what makes modern worship modern. Pads are a great way to modernize the sound of older worship songs and hymns without turning your worship service into an EDM concert.

3. Smooth transitions

Pads make it easy to eliminate those awkward moments of silence between worship songs. When your band hits the last note of the song, the pads can continue to sustain. Transitions are incredibly smooth using this technique when adjacent songs are in the same key. Even if songs are not in the same key, you can quickly crossfade pads in Ableton or other software you use to run them.

4. Freedom to speak or pray

I’m a strong believer that worship leading should consist of more than just leading songs. It’s important to share pastoral thoughts and prayers between songs, during songs, or a the end of a setlist. I love how pads give me the freedom to not worry about playing my guitar during these moments while at the same time maintaining soft music in the background. While I could noodle on my guitar, it’s much easier for me to focus on what I want to say or pray when pads support me in the background. The last thing I want to do is mess up a chord progression during prayer or have no music at all and create an awkward silence.

5. Compliment the end of sermons

Pads can add a powerful element to the closing exhortations and prayer of a sermon. There’s something about ambient pad sounds that help congregants focus in on what the pastor is preaching or praying. When the sermon is finished, pads create a seamless transition to the closing song.

6. Flexibility for use with a solo worship leader or full band

Pad can benefit any worship leader whether you are leading solo or with a full band. Your band can never be too large or too small to benefit from pads.

7. Minimal gear and software required

To use pads, you only need gear and software to playback simple MP3 or WAV files. You don’t need a click track or metronome. You don’t need in-ears monitoring. You can even play pads on your smartphone. Pads provide full sound to your band without requiring you to buy expensive software or equipment to run them.

8. Easy to prepare and operate

You can prepare and operate pads in a variety of ways. You can use an app on your phone, or you can use them in advanced software like Ableton Live. Either way, you are only working with a single audio file that plays back like any other song you would play on your computer or smartphone. If you know how to create a playlist of favorite songs in iTunes, you know how to prepare pads for worship.

9. No expensive keyboard rig required

A lot of worship ministries waste hundreds or thousands of dollars purchasing expensive keyboard rigs and software plugins to create pad sounds for worship. With pre-recorded pads, you can utilize the power of high-end synthesizer software like Omnisphere without purchasing it yourself.

10. Any key or chord progression will work

Worship songs come in a variety of keys and chord progressions. A single bundle of pads can work for all of them. One bundle includes 12 keys of music. Since the pads were created to drone over any chord in a given key, it does not matter what chord progression you play. Pads will always sound great.

Now you know the ten benefits of using pads in worship. If you want to get started with using pads today, you should download our free bundle of Churchfront Pads. The bundle contains our Warm pad sound designed by my music producer friend, Boomer Bate. You can select between MP3 or WAV audio files. Each track is 10 minutes in length to ensure they are long enough to play with any song without the need to loop.

Click the button, complete the form, and I’ll send you instant access to the free pads. I look forward to hearing how they enhance the sound of your worship leading.

Thanks for reading! Share this article with your worship leader friends who need to know about the benefits of implementing pads in their ministry.

5 tips for leading worship at a small church

Listen to my interview with Spencer Cormany of @leadingworshipwell.

Leading worship at a small church is tough.

Often my dreams and goals for ministry exceed our church's manpower and budget. I’ve struggled with comparing my ministry to larger worship ministries in the area. Sometimes it feels like my impact is only as high as attendance.

The reality is 85% of churches have less than 200 people in attendance on Sundays. That means there is a high probability that you lead worship at a small church too. You may have wrestled with some of these same challenges.

I recently interviewed Spencer Cormany from Leading Worship Well on the Churchfront Podcast. Spencer’s heart and passion are to equip worship leaders at smaller churches. He shared 5 Tips for Leading Worship at a Small Church.

These tips were a much-needed reminder for me.

  1. Embrace the season.
  2. Embrace the intimacy.
  3. Stop the comparison.
  4. Provide structure for growth.
  5. Put your songs in the right key.

If you lead worship at a small church, you need to listen to my complete interview with Spencer. I know you’ll benefit from the honesty and practical advice in our conversation.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Podcast!

If you want a daily dose of worship leading tips from Spencer, follow his Instagram account, @leadingworshipwell. Seriously, he has been putting out fantastic content on his feed. He writes insightful micro-blogs in the caption that take only a minute or two to read.

How to setup worship and production gear at a church plant

I’m a worship leader at a church plant. Every Sunday I wake up at 5 AM, shower, get dressed, head to my office where I pick up my gear, grab McDonald's breakfast, and make the 20-minute drive to Green Mountain High School where Mission Lakewood gathers for Sunday Worship. There’s a lot of work that happens between 7 AM and 9:30 AM to set up our worship space. I’ll walk you through it all in this article.

One of the best parts of planting a church is you get to start from scratch. In all aspects of ministry, you have the opportunity to build everything from the ground up. No existing traditions, systems, equipment, and the headaches that come along with them. I’m an entrepreneur. The challenge of starting things from scratch energizes me. That is why I was pumped to join Mission Lakewood as the worship pastor.

One of the worst parts of planting a church is you start from scratch. You have no building or existing equipment to use for worship. All of it has to be set up and torn down.


My friend Kevin was in charge of selecting and purchasing the production gear for our church plant. When he sent along the gear list for Mission Lakewood, I could not wait to get my hands on it and start using it every Sunday. I geek out over this stuff, and I’m super fussy about using gear that is high quality (but not overpriced) and creating efficient systems for setup and teardown.

We are a month into our church plant, and I couldn’t be happier with where we are at with our set up process. Last Sunday, setup took only an hour and a half, which allows our worship band a full hour to run through and tidy up our five song set list. The first few weeks were not easy. One Sunday we had so many production issues to troubleshoot that we only had about 15 minutes to rehearse our music. Barely enough time to run the whole set.

I thought it would be fun to walk you through exactly what a Sunday morning looks like at Mission Lakewood before the worship service begins. Our production gear would work great for anyone considering a church plant or leading worship at a church plant. To access a document containing links and pricing to all of the gear I’m about to cover, download the worship toolkit.

I will break the remainder of this article into the various steps of set up for worship and production at our church plant.

Step 1 - Scope out the auditorium and make sure there are no obstructions.

We meet at a high school. We do not always know what the auditorium will look like upon arrival because the theater department also uses the space for their musicals and plays. So far, they have done a fantastic job at keeping the central part of the stage clear. They have background set piece for the musical, The Adam’s Family, but once our trusses and screen are up, you cannot tell it’s there.

When I arrive at the school, I scope out the sides of the stage to ensure there aren’t other random set pieces in the way of where we need to move in our flight cases containing gear. It is a small detail, but half the battle of setup is making sure you don’t make the process harder for yourself. We want to have our cases in the same spot with space around them every week, so we have easy and quick access to it.

Step 2 - Roll out the carpet

Our stage has a shiny wood floor. I have no clue what they thought when they designed it that way. Reflective, light-colored floors are horrible for stages. When in doubt, pain your stage floor matte black. Since we cannot paint the floor, we purchased a large but inexpensive, dark-colored carpet. It drastically helps reduce the amount of light pollution on stage and makes it look sharp.

Step 3 - Assemble the wide-screen

The prominent feature of our stage design is the widescreen. We chose to go with a widescreen for many reasons. We wanted an efficient way to project lyrics on one screen. That meant it needed to be in the center and behind the band. We also wanted a quick way to cover up the background of the stage. This wide-screen is 18 ft wide by approximately 12 ft tall. No matter what the school theater department sets up behind us, you cannot see it.

From a stage design perspective, I highly prefer a widescreen over anything else. It’s the easiest way to transform the aesthetic and look of your stage. It’s minimalistic but allows you to cast whatever image, video, and background textures you want.

We purchased our screen from Carl’s Place (www.carlofet.com). Carl’s place creates DIY projection screens that give you a massive display on a small budget. Here’s how it works. When you order a DIY kit from Carl’s Place, you receive the screen material with grommets, bungee cords to mount the screen to the frame, steel corner/support fittings, and assembly instructions to go to a local hardware store and purchase 1” piping to complete the frame yourself. It saves a lot of money on shipping and a lot of money compared to purchasing the whole frame yourself. Setting up our screen takes about 10 minutes with 3 or 4 people helping assemble the frame and connecting the bungee cords.

Step 4 - Assemble the trusses and mount lights on the trusses.

While the screen is assembled, other volunteers work on building the four 11ft trusses. On the top of all four trusses, we mount two LED wash lights. The center trusses hold up the widescreen. The trusses remain on the floor while we mount the lights. When the screen and trusses are ready, we raise and secure the screen on the trusses.

Step 5 - Set up the audio equipment and band instruments.

Once the screen and trusses are up, our band members and one of the production volunteers begins assembling the sound system and instruments. Our sound system consists of the following equipment.

  • Midas M32R - This is a fantastic sound console. It has the simple user interface of a Behringer X32 but with higher quality hardware and preamps. The M32 has wifi connectivity so it can be controlled by a tablet for total control or smartphones to control monitors.
  • Behringer S32 - We use this as a digital stage snake that is rack mounted and positioned by the drum set. Everything is plugged into the S32 and networked back to the M32R over an ethercon cable.
  • Powered Speakers - Our EV powered speakers pack a punch and sound fantastic. We have two 12 inch tops and two 18” subwoofers.
  • Wireless Microphones - We use three Sennheiser wireless microphones. One for the worship leader. One for the preaching pastor. One for the hosting pastor.
  • Wireless In-Ear Monitors - We have one wireless in-ear monitor transmitter paired with two wireless receivers. Each receiver receives a mono signal and is panned either to the left or right. It’s a handy hack to prevent the need to buy a second transmitter.
  • Other - We also have an Audix drum mic kit, a bunch of microphone stands, cables, DI Boxes, and a few Behringer P16 monitors. I’m not a huge fan of the P16. I’m going to purchase an eight channel headphone amp that will be a much more straightforward setup (not having to deal with the mixers), and the musicians can control their mix wirelessly with their phones (using the M32 app).

Our church owns a Gretch Catalina Club drum set with DW hardware and Zildjian K-Custom cymbals. Our keyboard rig consists of an M-Audio midi controller and MacBook Air running Mainstage.

Step 6 - Set up lighting.

We use the American DJ MyDMX 3.0 lighting controller to run our LED lights and the school’s existing DMX system. From our media laptop (which runs MyDMX 3.0 and ProPresenter), we plug a USB cable into the MyDMX interface and out from the interface, the DMX cable goes into a splitter. We run a DMX back to the school’s media booth where we plug into their DMX system, and we run a DMX line to the stage for our LED lighting system.

Once the trusses and screen are up, a production volunteer connects the four truss warmer lights and top wash lights with DMX and power-con cables. Everything is daisy-chained which drastically reduces cabling.

Step 7 - Set up the widescreen projector and stage display projector.

Approximately 5ft behind the widescreen, we place our ultra-short throw projector for a rear-projected image. We have another rear-projection setup in the back of the auditorium for stage display lyrics.

Step 8 - Troubleshoot and fine tune

Every week we spend a few minutes troubleshooting or fine-tuning the setup. One crucial fine-tuning step is light placement. Our LED lights have to be positioned in the right place, so they do not blind the congregation and they do not wash out the widescreen.

By 8:30, the band starts rehearsal, so that is when the production team will troubleshoot or fine-tune any issues with the setup. I use Ableton Live to automate ProPresenter and lighting, so this frees up our production volunteers to focus on mixing sound and making sure everything is functioning correctly.

On a good day, the band is finished rehearsal at 9:30 AM and we have our production meeting where we talk through the order of service with the pastors, ensuring everyone is on the same page. Then we have about 20 minutes to chill before the service and greet people as they enter. Our five-minute countdown video begins at 9:57 AM and the service kicks off at 10:02 AM.

That’s how we set up our church plant.

At least that’s how we set up worship and production for our church plant. This articled covered nothing about setting up for kids ministry and first impressions, each of which deserves a lengthy description.

I mentioned a lot of gear in this post. You can access my detailed and comprehensive list of gear by downloading my Worship Toolkit. It contains pricing and links to everything we use at Mission Lakewood.

What questions do you have about our set up? Let me know in the comments! Or better, leave me a voice message question and it could be featured on my podcast!


6 ways to invest your time wisely

If you are in ministry, you are serving in one of these capacities:

  1. volunteering

  2. part-time

  3. full-time

  4. super full-time

Regardless of which of these you are, you likely don’t have someone holding your hand and keeping you accountable to a schedule. So how do you decide what is the best use of your time in your role?

No matter how much time we pour into our ministry, the time we have on this earth is given to us by God and we should steward it well.

The man who invited me into both my first role as a worship leader and my first full-time role into ministry shared with me a lot about this subject of time management. There’s a diagram he shared with me that’s a part of the Google Toolkit we are sharing with you later on that really helped me get a tangible grasp on the big picture of time management.


This time investment has shown to have the greatest return for me.

I spend a few minutes at the beginning of each day to look at my schedule for that day. Afterwards, I take care of any emergency emails or small daily tasks (like updating my hours, cleaning my office, etc.)

On my first day of the work week, I’ll spend more like 20-30 minutes planning my entire week. If I know that I’m scheduling or have a big project to do, I’ll make sure to put that in my calendar.

Each year, I encourage you to spend a day with your team looking at the entire year. Consider school events, big church events, and community events. Take note of when you’ll have to start planning for these events, and put a date on your calendar as a reminder to start planning for these things. Easter and Christmas seem to creep up on people every year - but they happen each year at the same time.

If you struggle with taking care of your responsibilities or easily let other less important projects take over, consider sharing your calendar with your boss, co-worker, or spouse to keep you accountable to your schedule.

CALENDARING TIP: Figure out how long tasks actually take you. When you need to make room for something else, don't just shorten another task to make room for other things - you'll need that entire hour or whatever it is.


This one is difficult. You don’t want to come across as selfish, and if you’re in ministry you probably have a heart for serving - this is great, but it’s hard to invest in yourself because you probably want to spend all your time serving others.

Investing in yourself will result in being able to serve others better.

The better you know how to play your instrument, use ProPresenter, or understand scripture, the better you’ll be able to serve others with these new or sharpened skills.

Here are few quotes from ministry leaders that have poured into me have been great reminders;

“Leaders are readers”

“Leaders learn about themselves”

“Growth comes from self-awareness”

Growing yourself will take up time in your schedule, but is certainly worth it. Just a few examples of ways to invest in yourself are;

  • Joining worship leader facebook groups

  • Taking another worship leader in your area out for coffee/lunch

  • Attending conferences


The church is a volunteer run organization. If this isn’t the case at your church, you probably want to look into that.

Volunteers need to be well-resourced, well-informed, feel important, and have fun.

You will not be on this earth or in your role forever; one of your goals should be to help the next person in your role be successful. This means investing in potential leaders, and giving responsibility to those who have shown an interest and the ability to do so successfully.

Create and sustain relationships with your volunteers. You don’t have to be their best friend, but you do need to be worthy of their trust and be someone they can count on, and they will want to be someone you can count on.

If you’re an introvert, you aren’t cut from these responsibilities - but when you need your alone time, you can still invest in volunteers by resourcing them well; make sure your song arrangements are what you’d like them to be, songs are transposed to the key you’ll be playing in so they can play along, and provide playthrough videos for specific or difficult parts.


This takes a lot of prep work, but week to week will be a big time-saver. Here are just a few examples of things that can fall under this category;

  • ProPresenter arrangements

  • Soundboard scenes

  • Keys rigs

  • Ableton sessions

Whatever it is, if you have a system down and you can quickly duplicate or automate your work each week you will have much more time each week.

You don’t have to be a master of all these things - there are so many resources available with the internet. Here are a few resources I’ve found helpful;

  • Churchfront Ableton toolkit

  • That Worship Sound Worship Essential mainstage package

  • Alex Strabala’s Helix presets

I have tweaked all of these to fit my needs, but having 90% of the work done by people who put endless hours into their products and know their craft is definitely a time-saver.

Another benefit to this is that when your system is nearly automatable and well documented, it can easily be handed to a responsible volunteer.


One of the obvious but profound things I’ve been taught is this:

“saying yes to one thing means saying no to something else”

MIND BLOWN - You mean we don’t have endless amounts of time? I somehow thought that the more I said yes to, the better of a job I was doing by getting “a lot done”. But I let urgent things become the most important things, and therefore wasn’t making traction on my goals, or accomplishing my mission.

Another thing I’ve struggled with is being able to say “this doesn’t have to be perfect”.

If you are spending hours tweaking a backtrack, keyboard sound, or graphic while musicians or tech people are struggling with things, then you need to take a step back and prioritize.


I once thought that I could save money by dealing with free or cheaper products. Here’s an example;

I was using a PDF chart viewer on my iPad. I still had to print charts for everyone else on the team, and every time I made a change to the chart I had to update OnSong and update the printed charts. When I switched to PCO Music Stand, it was a monetary investment - but at $2.50 a week, it’s a bigger return on the investment (if you’re on staff and make more than $2.50/hr)

If a soundboard, lighting board, computer, etc is constantly needing repair, then it is both costing money and time. This is another time to step back and think if the repair time is worth the money being saved. We are often put in position to steward God’s money. This is a big responsibility, not to be taken lightly - and while there are definitely products that are too luxurious for our needs, there are also insufficient products that money shouldn’t be spent on in the first place.

I hope these tips help you save time and increase your ministry effectiveness. Because I care about you, your time, and your ministry, I’ve put together this Organization Toolkit available through Churchfront. It includes;

  • hours tracking sheet

  • preaching calendar sheet

  • song planning sheet

  • budgeting sheet

How to build a worship song library

In this article, you’ll learn how to build a quality worship song library in an efficient way that will save you hours of worship prep down the road.

As I begin my worship ministry at Mission Lakewood church, I have the opportunity to start from scratch with my worship song library. As you can see here, my Planning Center account library is completely empty.

An organized and accurate song library has two primary benefits.

  1. Weekly worship planning time is drastically reduced.

  2. My band will always have the best resources for practice and rehearsal.

Once the ministry and church is up and running, I do not want to spend hours every week creating new charts, tracks, lyric slides, etc. I much rather spend a few days batch processing these things ahead of time and creating an uber-organized workflow that will save me hours (even days) of prep down the road.

In the rest of this articler, I want to give you a broad overview of what I’m doing to build our worship song library from scratch.

In order for a song to be adequately prepared for the library, it needs the following 5 things.

  1. An accurate chord chart created in Planning Center’s lyrics and chord editor

  2. Attached MP3 of the songs original key and arrangement

  3. ProPresenter document containing lyric slides

  4. Ableton Live multitrack project

  5. Attached MP3 of the custom key and arrangement with click and cues

The grunt work in this process will consist of preparing those elements. But once it’s done the first time, I’ll never have to do it again. My weekly planning will consist of a few seconds of adding the song to my Planning Center Plan, ProPresenter playlist, and Ableton Live set list.

Is doing all this prep work fun? Of course not! But the reward of having amazing resources for my band and a bunch of saved time down the road is worth it.

Here are the tools I need to get the job done.

  • Laptop - I’ve got my overpriced 15” MacBook Pro.

  • External Hard Drive - I store all of my Ableton Live media on a dedicated hard drive, keeping it organized and independent of any one laptop.

  • Planning Center Services App - This software is the hub where I store all of my songs and music resources like charts and mp3 files.

  • ProPresenter - For a lone worship leader with no production staff, worship prep is not done until lyric slides are made for all songs. I’m going to include lyric creation in ProPresenter as part of this process.

  • Dropbox - While ProPresenter has cloud capability, I prefer using Dropbox to store and sync ProPresenter documents across multiple machines.

  • Ableton Live - This is the software I use to prep tracks and ProPresenter cues.

Now I want to take you through my process of adequately preparing a song for my worship library. Since this article is a broad overview of the process, I don’t have time to get into the nitty gritty of each of these steps. I’ve already made detailed tutorials on most of what I’m going to covered. Click the links for detailed instructions.

Step 1 - Add the song to Planning Center

Find the song you want and add it to the Planning Center library. Planning Center automatically links the song to CCLI, which keeps track of reporting for licensing purposes. Include any other details you would like about the song for categorization. I usually import lyrics from CCLI but not the chord charts. CCLI chord charts are garbage.

Step 2 - Buy the original song MP3

Purchase the original arrangement of the song in Apple Music or any other online music store. Once the song is downloaded, create an MP3 version of the song. This creates a smaller file size that is easier for sharing. Upload the file to Planning Center as a default arrangement attachment. Please note this is only legal if you church subscribes to the CCLI Rehearsal License.

Step 3 - Make a Chord Chart

Create the most amazing chord chart in the world using Planning Center’s lyrics and chord editor. I prefer creating my own charts. I will sometimes use CCLI’s chord chart as a starting point so I don’t have to do it all completely by ear. A quicker way to do it is purchase the chord chart from PraiseCharts.com. I recommend using the Chord Pro format. Copy the Chord Pro text from PraiseCharts and paste it into Planning Center. Then make sure the formatting is perfect.

Check out my detailed tutorial on creating worship charts in Planning Center.

Step 4 - Create lyrics

Create a ProPresenter document for the song lyrics. Import the song into ProPresenter directly from the CCLI search integration. Leverage templates to save you time creating new documents consistent with your style. I prefer two lines of text on each slide. I also label all the sections of the songs. My master arrangement of the song in ProPresenter is what I sync with Ableton Live. You’ll notice in ProPresenter, I do not repeat sections of the song like the chorus. Automating ProPresenter gives me the ability to skip around to the right slides. I also create an arrangement of the song if the need arises for manual operation.

Step 5 - Prepare multitracks

Create the Ableton Live project for the song. Using LoopCommunity.com or Multitracks.com, purchase and download tracks. Optimize the Ableton Live session file so that all you need to do is drag and drop it into future setlists. I also prefer creating my lyric cues for a song in this step. Once it is done once, I don’t ever have to worry about it again.

Check out my detailed tutorial on creating a Multitracks session for Ableton Live.

Step 6 - Create a custom MP3 file

Export and upload the MP3 file of the Ableton Live session containing the click and and cues and proper key. Upload the file to the proper key attachment in Planning Center.

I know that sounds like a lot of work, but once these six steps are complete, the song is adequately prepared for the library. As I already mentioned, the weekly prep will merely consist of dragging and dropping. I want most of my weekly prep time to be spent on picking the right songs from the library and working on other creative service elements, not creating charts, lyric documents, and tracks. I hope this overview of how I build my worship library gives you some ideas for building your own in an efficient and time-saving manner.

If you are building a new worship ministry or if you’re looking to improve an existing one, check out my free guide, The Ultimate Worship Ministry Toolkit. This ever-evolving and improving document is a spreadsheet that acts as your quick reference to all the worship leading tools I refer to in posts like this one and many others on Churchfront.com. It can be overwhelming trying to find the right software and gear for your ministry. This guide will quickly point you in the right direction.

My favorite worship songs

Finding the right songs for your worship ministry can be tough. In this article, I share my favorite worship songs as I build a song library from scratch.

In a few weeks, I’ll be helping launch Mission Lakewood Church as an interim worship pastor. Since I’m building a worship ministry from the ground up, I need to begin creating a library of songs for the church to sing.

I want your input in this process! What are your favorite worship songs right now? Make sure you tell me below in the comments.

Mission Lakewood is being planted from Cherry Hills Community Church, a mega-church in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. While it’s easy for me to move forward on my own picking what I think are the best songs for our congregation, I want to acknowledge that these people already have a collection of songs they have been singing.

In fact, Cherry Hills has a strong worship ministry and they have just released an original worship album. My assistant worship leader, Sarah, is on the worship team at Cherry Hills, so I’ve asked her to compile a list of twenty songs which are standards at that church. I want to make sure we launch the worship ministry with a decent amount of music being familiar to the congregation.

At the same time, Mission Lakewood will have its own unique identity as a church. It is not a campus of Cherry Hills. It is completely autonomous. That means our worship ministry does not need to be a copycat of their church.

One of my favorite responsibilities as a worship leader is choosing songs for our church to sing. I’ll admit, sometimes I’m a bit selfish in my song selection. I like choosing songs that are my personal favorites. At the same time, I want to make sure the church has a healthy diet of diverse worship songs.

In the rest of this video, I’m going to outline some of the worship songs I’ll be including in our library. I think the easiest way to do this is categorize the songs by the following themes. That will ensure I have diverse pool of songs both in the sense of energy and the different aspects of the gospel narrative they emphasize. Here are the categories.

  • Adoration

  • Confession

  • Assurance

  • Sending

When I plan worship, every Sunday I try to tell the gospel story through my song selection. That story being, God is great, we are not, but he forgives us, and we are sent out on mission to serve him. I learned this approach to worship planning for the book, Christ-Centered Worship by Bryan Chapell.

Generally speaking, Adoration songs are higher energy and toward the opening of worship. Confession songs are more reflective on our sinful condition and the need for grace. Assurance songs have a triumphal and thankful feel to them. Sending songs get the congregation fired up about living for Jesus.

Using this categories helps me plan worship with a more meaningful mindset than just playing with emotions. I want the gospel story to inform how I plan.

So here are the songs I chose to get this worship ministry off the ground. I think you’ll quickly be able to tell who my favorite worship bands and songwriters are. This list of songs will most likely evolve and change overtime, but I hope it gives you some ideas of great songs to add to your own song library.

Songs of Adoration

  • Nobody Like You - Red Rocks Worship

  • There’s No Other Name - Bethel Music

  • Lion and the Lamb - Bethel Music

  • Ever Be - Bethel Music

  • Great Are You Lord - All Sons and Daughters

  • Holy Spirit - Brian and Katie Torwalt

  • So Will I (100 Billion X) - Hillsong United

  • Behold(Then Sings My Soul) - Hillsong Worship

  • What a Beautiful Name - Hillsong Worship

  • O Praise the Name - Hillsong Worship

  • Only King Forever - Elevation worship

  • Right Here Right Now - Red Rocks Worship

Songs of Confession

  • Path of Sorrow - All Sons and Daughters

  • Come Thou Fount - Traditional

  • O Come to the Altar - Elevation Worship

  • Prince of Peace - Hillsong United

  • Crowns - Hillsong Worship

  • Tremble - Mosaic MSC

  • Lord I Need You - Matt Maher

Songs of Assurance

  • How Beautiful Your Grace - Red Rocks Worship

  • King of My Heart - Bethel Music

  • Reckless Love - Cory Asbury

  • Mercy - Bethel Music

  • I Will Boast in Christ - Hillsong Worship

  • How Beautiful - Mosaic MSC

  • Good Good Father - Christ Tomlin

  • In Christ Alone - Getty

  • This I Believe (The Creed) - Hillsong Worship

Songs of Sending

  • Not Afraid - Red Rocks Worship

  • Old for New - Bethel Music

  • Glory to Glory - Bethel Music

  • Faithful to the End - Bethel Music

  • I Surrender - All Sons and Daughters

  • Christ Be All Around Me - All Sons and Daughters

  • Shadow Step - Hillsong United

    Wow, sorry that was such a long list. But it feels great to have that all documented before I start adding songs to my Planning Center Account. I’m still waiting for Sarah to add her recommendations.

As I mentioned, this song will evolve over time, and I know there are great songs I don’t have on the list. I will probably add some hymn arrangements as well.

Once we’ve completed our list of approximately 50 songs, we will begin creating library assets for each song. Those assets include:

  • Chord charts

  • ProPresenter lyrics

  • Backing track sessions

  • MP3 files

If you want my complete song list with links to resources like charts and multitracks, you can download my free guide.

What songs should I add to this list? What are your favorite worship songs right now? Let me know in the comments.

Licensing and Software Every Worship Ministry Needs

Licensing and Software Every Worship Ministry Needs

I am going to outline the basic licensing and software tools I will be using to lead worship. Everytime I build a worship ministry at a new church, I’m reminded of these foundational tools I often take for granted at established churches.