5 Worship Planning Resources I Can't Live Without
We all have resources and systems that we know and love, and often using the system we have been using for some time is the most efficient (and effective) way to plan for worship.
Sometimes, though, it’s nice to see somebody else’s perspective for new ideas. I have found that often the “traditional” worship types have resources they gravitate to, and the “contemporary” worship types have a different set of resources they gravitate to. With that in mind, I have found that my list of top resources can (and in some cases should!) be used for any type of worship-whether you’re leading a traditional piano and organ hymn service, a blended piano and guitar service, or full-on worship praise band service.
So without further ado, here are my must-have resources for planning worship on a weekly basis.
1. The Bible
Not only should we steeped in scripture for our own spiritual health and growth, but scripture is key to worship planning. We should be reading the sermon text just as much as the preacher. We should be mining the Psalms consistently - as leaders in worship, the Psalms are our guidebook.
I know, you already know this. I already know this. But some weeks I find that I need to remind myself of this over and over - get in the Word. Having trouble picking out a song that responds to the sermon? Get in the Word. Having trouble figuring out the flow of your service? Get in the Word (Isaiah 6:1-9 comes to mind). Feeling burnt out? Get in the Word.
Everything we do should be centered on, steeped in, fixed on, informed by scripture.
2. CCLI SongSelect
I’m sure you have heard many who sing the praises of CCLI SongSelect, and I’m here to tell you - if you haven’t checked it out, you’re missing out. It doesn’t have 100% of traditional and contemporary hymns and worship songs, but it’s pretty close. It is an astounding resource with the ability to export lyrics for Powerpoint and Planning Center, the ability to change keys at a moment’s notice, the flexibility of printing off simple chord charts or realized piano scores. It’s a great tool, and well worth the cost.
Contemporary worship types - bear with me.
I have a collection of hymnals from all denominations - Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, a Gaither hymnal, an Armed Forces hymnal. Partly I collect them as a hobby, I find them fascinating and particularly love old, well-worn hymnals. I grew up in a church with hymnals. So I have an emotional connection to them.
But - in terms of worship planning, they can be a great resource. Different hymnals have indexes that group songs by a wide variety of themes. These can be super useful when you’re looking for a song with a specific theme but can’t seem to find the right one - the hymnal index can remind you of songs you had forgotten about.
Hymnals also tell the story of the church that made it. It tells the theology of the denomination that put it together. It’s important that you’re in touch with your denomination’s theology as seen through the lens of worship and songs.
4. My Worship Planning Spreadsheets
I have two -
The first one is a catalog of our repertoire and shows when we last sang the song and what themes are included in the text. See example below.
The second one is a spreadsheet of the calendar year with items like who is preaching, what songs I’ve chosen, what readings have been chosen, etc. See example below.
Both of these are Google Sheets, but I have used Excel as well, I just like the accessibility of Google Sheets.
I must use these spreadsheets to keep track of things - it’s my primary way of staying organized in worship planning. It takes some time to get them started from scratch, but pays dividends down the line.
5. Blank Paper
Okay, you may think this is an odd one.
But with all of the technology available and the online tools I use, I still end up using paper every time. I plan worship 1-5 months at a time, and I do it at a clear desk table with all of my “hard copy” tools laid out. I print out my Worship Repertoire sheet and the calendar, have a couple of hymnals handy, my bible, and a lot of scratch paper. I use legal pads and just blank copier paper.
When I’m planning for worship on a large-scale, looking at big picture themes and timelines, I want to be able to write down any thoughts I have - and I’ve found that blank paper works best for that. On my legal pad, I write down dates and song sets, and on my blank sheets of paper I write down big ideas, themes, scripture that pops out, psalms I want to use, ideas for engaging different musicians in the congregation. Sometimes I draw pictures and doodles.
I think it’s crucial that as leaders and planners of worship, we allow ourselves to be creative.
We often focus on God being just, loving, caring, full of glory, powerful, mighty, merciful, abounding in grace, but God is also creative. And God has called many of us to be creative for His glory. So embrace your creativity, do it not in service of yourself, but in service of God’s glory. Allow yourself to think big, to dream big dreams, to pursue excellence. This too, is of the Lord.
What worship planning resources do you use every week? Share by commenting below! As always, I love hearing feedback, suggestions, comments, and questions, so feel free to contact me.