Hi! As a worship leader, I’ll share something about lining up songs for a Sunday worship service,particularly how many songs would be appropriate for a corporate worship? Now this may not be true or applicable to some, but I’d also like you to think of this. Last Sunday there is this lady who approached me after our worship service,she’s a visitor. Then she said, “You know what, in our church we sing 6 songs for Praise&Worship” and I was like “6 songs?!” Then she said “Yes, 3 Praise songs before the message and 3 worship songs after it, some sort of a response” Then she went on saying “I guess you should try it too” Now in our church, we just sing 2 to 3 songs (1 Praise and 1 or 2 worship) But a couple of years ago, we used to do the same “worship festival” format, sandwiching the preacher’s message, which obviously made the service longer than it ought to be. We later realized that there’s something wrong w/ that. Alright, Praise&Worship is also important as the message but in a way, it should not sugarcoat or lessen the weight of the message by singing more songs and creating emotional stirs at the end. If we put it in a wedding ceremony, Praise & Worship is just the entourage, and the Lord’s message is the ceremony itself. It’s like that. What Praise&Worship does is to prepare the congregation to hear the Lord’s message, then leave the message as it is to them for them ponder on, when they go home, something to reflect on, and not wipe it out by instilling in their last memory the songs that you sang after the message.
Let me just add something to this. Praise and Worship is our response to what God has done in our lives, or to express our adoration to Him. However, it is also important to take note that songs lined up for a worship service should be somehow related to the preacher’s message. It’s like giving the congregation a hint or idea on what the Lord’s message is about and it therefore prepares their heart and ears to listen further (I will soon blog about this in more detail). Now, if you are able to think of 2 or 3 songs (fit for a congregation to sing) that would do that job, then that is totally fine! Don’t try to squeeze out more and stress out the band and the dancers by rehearsing 4-6 or even 8 songs for the entire worship service. That’s too unnecessary. Unless it is for a worship night or worship festival. If it is, I won’t care how many songs you plan to include in your repertoire or how long will you stay for it (it can be overnight!). But for a corporate worship set up, there has to be some sort of a cliff hanger at the end of the Praise and Worship for them to long for the real meat – which is the MESSAGE! – the thing that God wants His people to know that day, through the pastor/preacher.
A response song/psalm is okay too after the message, but please, one song is enough. And that one song can also be taken from the 2-3 songs you’ve lined up, or sometimes, a preacher would ask the worship team to sing a particular song which he may have deemed fit for a response. Do not try to add more to it. Let the members of the congregation chew the Word on their own and have their own response when they get home. Don’t try to overkill or choke them by playing more songs and stirring emotions at the end till their eyes well up with tears. Worship service is never about emotions; it’s all about God and His message to us. I guess that’s something very important to bear in mind.
So if we are to quantify the Praise & Worship songs and measure the time it covers in a Sunday mass/service (considering the above-mentioned factors), 2 to 3 songs will do, running for 15 minutes, or 20 minutes the most.