6 Ways to Beat Stage Fright

One of my greatest struggles as a growing song worship leader was overcoming stage fright. For years, nerves impaired my ability to execute my worship plan well, whether it was saying what I wanted to say, in the way I wanted to say it, interpreting a song well, or even hitting the high notes on some songs. This resulted in embarrassing mistakes and gaffes.

If you, or somebody you know, has struggled with this, you may be wincing in agreement. Being nervous while in front of people is no fun! There is good news, however: you CAN overcome it.

Nerves can hinder worship. If you’re uncomfortable, your congregation will be too. Nerves can create an uncomfortable or distracting situation, which defeats the purpose of an expediency like a song worship leader. After all, if he is not expedient, why do we need him? Needless to say, I believe a skilled worship leader is expedient to powerful worship, and the advice in this blog post should aid good leaders into becoming great.

1) Practice (boring, I know)
There are very few skills that you can master with sheer repetition and no direction. You know the old saying: “practice makes perfect”, but another saying contradicts it, contending that practice simply makes permanent. “Perfect practice makes perfect”, a good friend of mine likes to say. I’m a big believer in intentional practice, especially for the budding song worship leader, but one of the most effective ways to overcome nerves is to get used to being in front of people, and not just leading singing. Preaching, teaching, praying, Scripture reading, and delivering announcements are several ways to get comfortable being in front of people. Practice in front of a mirror and be honest with yourself. You probably don’t smile as big as you think you do (it feels weird to smile big for most people). Ask a spouse or someone close to you to offer positive critique. Emphasis on positive.

2) Be a Servant
Song worship leaders are servants, just as preachers, elders, deacons, and Bible class teachers are. Growing in our service to the Lord should involve serving in one or more of those capacities, as well as many less public areas. Worship leaders, don’t be divas. Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12 don’t even mention song worship specifically (though I hold the position worship leading is a teaching role), so find your place in the Body and give the Lord 110%, whether or not your service involves music. By the way, great teachers make great song worship leaders because they have not only grown more comfortable with their stage presence, but they also plan worship very thoughtfully, and have garnered the respect of the brethren for blessing the Church through ministry and wisdom from the Word of God. Trust me, it is easier to get up in front of a group that reveres you than one that doesn’t know you well at all. Be a servant-hearted worship leader. 

3) Internalize Your Worship Plan
Nerves rear their ugly head at the worst of times, and for many reasons. What if I say the wrong thing? What if I forget that verse I excluded from the slide sequence? What if the projector fails? What if I freeze? These are all questions that may run through our minds before—or even during—worship, causing us to be anything but relaxed. Even worse, thinking these negative thoughts may create a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Well, you can’t predict whether or not the projector will fail, or if you’ll have a temporary lapse in memory, but you can take measures to ensure that technical difficulties won’t cause a problem. Preparation goes a long way into leading worship comfortably, so don’t lead haphazardly. Unless you were just asked at the last minute to lead, take an hour or two to internalize your songs, including the order, and take a few other precautions. They will make your life so much easier!

  • Don’t plan complicated song interpretations that require you to think about nothing else but which half phrase you’re repeating, or which random ad lib you’re going to do. K.I.S.S. You can lead a very God-honoring, congregational, artistic, and emotionally compelling worship service without over-complicating it. Besides, if you are struggling to remember the 20 seconds of instructions from the beginning of the song, your congregants probably are too. Remember, K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Silly)
  • Write out your worship set, or type it and print it. Memorize it. If you’re not used to doing this, don’t overthink it. It’s easy.
  • Don’t rely completely on technology–have a backup plan or two (pitch pipe, paper song list, hymnals)
  • If using slides, be sure to have a few songs ready in case of a baptism, or have a short list of salvation songs and use hymnals in the pew.
  • Memorize songs. If you have sung a hymn all your life, you don’t need to look at the book or the screen. You will probably need to glance at it from time to time, just to remember the order of phrases and to make sure you and the congregation are still together (if the slide guy or gal has lagged, you may need to adjust your timing/phrasing, for instance)
  • Lead from a hymnal in the pulpit, or printed sheet music. Just don’t hold it, if at all possible. 99% of the time, leaders hold the sheet music because they think they need to read it the entire time instead of engaging the congregation. Don’t be that guy.

4) Singing School
One of my favorite resources for all things worship leading and church music is a good week-long Singing School. There are several around the country, and most all of them have a song worship leader track that will challenge worship leaders of all abilities to plan deep, theologically rich worship services, thoughtful song selection, led with emotive, lively energy. The singing schools provide resources and techniques to teach you music theory, conducting, vocal care, and methods to continuously improve. The continuity of 5 back-to-back days of leading and positive critique will make you better. Continued practice multiplies the benefit of your time investment manifold. This is a super under-rated resource. Don’t knock it till you try it, even if you have music credentials!

5) Take Voice Lessons
You possess the greatest instrument in the world–your voice. Learn how to use it well. 99% of the effort involved in hitting that F at the top of the staff is mental. If you are thinking about how difficult it will be to hit that F, you will have difficulty. Relax! Tension is the worst enemy of your voice. Take voice lessons from somebody that understands your goal of leading congregational singing well, and have them work with you to get stronger at leading hymns that perhaps you have struggled to lead before, due to your vocal range or other difficulties. If you are confident about your range and your voice, you eliminate a common cause of nervous tension.

6) Public-Facing Occupation
You may or may not have a client-facing occupation. If you want to grow in your public speaking ability, a client-facing role such as customer service, sales, or the like can be a powerful resource. A management role that involves presentations would be even better. Some of my friends adapted from complete introverts to warm and professional personalities after going to work for Chick Fil A for a year or two.

Your secular occupation can be powerful in developing your communication skills in this regard. If you’re a man of the cloth, consider a tent-making role that will strengthen your skill-set in this area. Besides, most in the ministry like to diversify their livelihood with a “tent-making” something-or-other. Your occupation can absolutely impact your growth as a worship leader, and most importantly, can make your work effective in helping the brethren to experience life-changing worship. This is our ultimate purpose. You CAN do this!

Bonus Points

If you have read this far and are still looking for more resources to help (as I certainly would have in my desperation to overcome my nerves), here are a couple of book recommendations:

You CAN improve. God is worthy, and His church is too. Know that I am praying for you to become the best version of yourself that you can possibly be, to His praise and glory.

Forever Changed

the-empty-tomb

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. – Romans 6.1-4 ESV

Recently, I watched the historical fiction film, “Risen”, which depicts the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus from the perspective of a Roman centurion. Though there were some errors in the historical narrative, it depicted one thing particularly well: those that encountered Jesus were forever changed.

Early into His ministry, many encountered Jesus and were changed overnight. Not everybody received Him, but those that did could not help but be changed. He gave them purpose and a mission. Though some change was sudden, they were still human. Peter witnessed many miracles and yet he denied Jesus 3 times.

All of the disciples abandoned Jesus in the darkest hour of His ministry, but they did not desert Him for long. Witnessing the resurrection of Jesus impacted them deeply. Seeing the miracles that were performed through them by the Spirit further impacted them, and when spiritual gifts went away, the early Christians continued to grow and be changed as they communed on the first day of the week.

Jesus designed the Communion as a reminder and a renewal for Christians. We remember His ministry, we proclaim His death, we share the awe and wonder of the empty tomb, and we kneel before the risen King. As we encounter Jesus by retelling the story and renewing our minds, we, too, are forever changed.

It’s not enough to be touched by the story of Christ. It must move us to do something about it. Those who are moved by the story of Christ discover that He even lives on in us through His providence. Though God is working mightily in ways we don’t see or hear, He also works mightily through His people, who bear His image to the world (1 Cor. 15.35-49; Hebrews 1.1-3). God’s people are known by their compassion and humility, two traits that are completely unnatural, yet for the Christian, are second nature.

It’s a shocking and sobering thought to imagine you and I are part of God’s providence, but we are. As we are changed, we influence others to change too, through teaching, mentorship, examples, and acts of kindness and service. It seems strange to think that you or I might be the answer to somebody’s prayer.

Are we prepared to steward that kind of responsibility? Whenever we doubt it, remember the Cross. Will my example point people to Christ? Will it cause them to change? If I cannot do that today, maybe reflecting on those things will get me closer tomorrow, and a little closer the next day.

Every day, I must live in such a way that those around me are drawn to sit at the foot of the cross, to join Mary at the empty tomb, to find a place at the Table, to kneel before the Throne, and to join the ranks of Christians bearing the love and the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world.

20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2.20

Love so amazing–so divine–
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
–Isaac Watts

An excerpt from “Forever Changed, 52 Reasons Why We Commune”, an upcoming meditational book intended to inspire a deeper perspective on the Cross.

Which Hymnal or Song Collection Should We Choose?

hymnals

Selecting a hymnal or collection of songs for a congregation is not an easy task. Oh, it’s easy to grab a book with songs that I like, but choosing a hymnal for a congregation carries the daunting responsibility of providing a primary source of the spiritual language of the congregation, and a couple of generations to come. The average congregation changes hymnals far less often than its ministry staff, about once every 20-30 years. That’s a long time to be singing from a collection. All the more reason to choose wisely.

Our theology is shaped by the hymns we sing–for good or bad–and it should be as we “teach and admonish one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” (Colossians 3.16). How often we hear the cross referenced in prayers and meditations as “that old rugged cross”, or someone refers to our “blessèd assurance” in Christ. In a well-edited collection of church music, as we sing rich songs and hymns, we write the word of God on our hearts.

Elders, what do you want your flock writing upon their hearts? Parents, what do you want your children singing? Do you want depth of scripture content? Songs that teach “the full counsel”? A collection that has been scrutinized by a committee of conservative preachers, teachers, and elders? There are collections out there that go through this kind of scrutiny, but not all of them do. Ask these kinds of questions, even if someone graciously donates 500 hymnals to your church without asking anybody (this happens extremely often).

Not all hymnals or collections are created equal, and it is much deeper than which one has the songs we like to sing. Many of our favorite hymns were doctrinally edited, either by excluding a verse or altering a phrase. Many hymns teach unscriptural ideas, and could not be sung scripturally, even with a large helping of poetic license. A good hymnal committee excludes these kinds of hymns from the collection.

Some hymns are just plain controversial, even if they can be sung scripturally. “Days of Elijah”, “Thomas’ Song”, and “Did You Repent, Fully Repent” are among them. The first two are never sung well in a congregation anyway, but think long and hard before inviting an opportunity for division. We have enough of those as it is.

A recent email circulated about Sumphonia’s new hymnal, “Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs”, and what it included and excluded from its list of titles. I was not part of the committee, but I’m very familiar with the criteria and the thousands of hours that went into compiling that book. The editorial committee has been very transparent about that process. If a song or verse was excluded from that hymnal, before we conclude that it was a careless oversight, there are a few things we should take into account:

  • People called, emailed, and wrote from around the country, begging the editors not to include songs like “Days of Elijah”, “Did You Repent, Fully Repent”, and other songs that really don’t edify the church, and may do more harm than good (your mileage may vary)
  • The editors polled the brotherhood, for many years, with all 1800 some-odd hymns from brotherhood hymnals of the 20th and 21st centuries. They pulled the top 550 from that list, so there would be a core of hymns that everybody knew. In fact, this core is several times larger than even the average congregation sings over a several year span (usually 100-150 songs), so there’s a lot of variety there.
  • The editors then used an extremely strict Biblical and musical filter to find songs that were either brand new or otherwise unknown to much of the brotherhood.
  • Many popular songs of today were excluded because they did not work in a congregational setting as they were written for a praise band or praise team, or they didn’t have much spiritual merit.
  • Heavily syncopated rhythms (like “Days of Elijah” has) do not work well at all in congregations, and without fail will leave older generations in the dust. The editorial team included some syncopated songs, but some songs just would not work.
  • There’s a good reason certain songs did not make it from older collections like “Sacred Selections” and “Songs of the Church” into later hymnals.
  • The editors brought back numerous verses that past hymnal editors excluded, due to space constraints. Sometimes, the complete meaning of the song was lost due to excluded verses.
  • This is one of the most thoughtful collections of church music the Church has ever seen, and certainly has the most variety of any collection in the brotherhood
  • It is the lightest brotherhood hymnal in publication (I believe it weighs about 1/3 of what “Songs of Faith and Praise” weighs)
  • There are other wonderful collections out there too, but many of them won’t have the variety and quality of this collection due to their age. The brotherhood has written a lot of hymns in the last 20 years, and the cream of the crop was included in this hymnal

There are a lot of resources for new church music now, especially with the advent of the internet, but beware that downloading songs (legally or otherwise) may well bypass an editorial filter. I highly encourage elders and church leaders to scrutinize new music off the internet and from recording collections and folios because they likely have not been through any kind of editorial scrutiny. If you are not musically savvy, there’s a good chance there’s somebody in your congregation or a nearby congregation that can help you determine if a song was arranged for congregations or not. Feel free to reach out to me as I write and arrange congregational hymns, and I would be happy to help in any way that I can. There are songs that work very well congregationally, but there may be versions in existence that were designed for a praise team or professional chorus. Just because you recognize the title and it is in shaped notes does not mean it is going to be intuitive to sing.

Finally, the next time you see a hymnal, don’t just see it as another book. A group of people spent countless nights of burning the midnight oil and thousands of hours compiling it. The songs inside it each took 100-200 hours to write, and then 3-5 hours to transcribe onto the page in software. Multiply that by 700-1,000 titles as that’s what modern hymnals contain. A lot of care goes into that kind of collection. Please appreciate it. And please think before copying pages from a praise team folio instead of picking songs that were carefully edited for congregational edification, enjoyment, and praise.

Homework – Getting the Most out of Singing School

Homework 2

So you’re going to a singing school, this Summer, or perhaps you’ve already been to one. How do you make the most of the week? After all, these weeks are packed with powerful worship moments, new songs, music theory, and treasured memories with salt of the earth Christians. It’s impossible to fully appreciate and apply everything in the moment, while we’re there, so while paying attention and taking notes go a long way, just like regular school, the real growth happens in the homework.

Synthesize

It’s probably impossible to fully synthesize a week long singing school experience, but if it were, it would take years. I still reflect on my first experience 6 years ago, which doesn’t sound like a long time, but it feels like half a lifetime. To better benefit in the long run, take notes of your experience and revisit those notes periodically to remind yourself why excellence in worship is important, and to gauge your growth. Then set personal goals. Here are a few that every leader has to make, sooner or later:

  • Starting and leading a particular difficult song or set of songs well
  • Learn shape notes well enough to be able to sight sing and quickly learn a hymn when it is requested for a special occasion and you are put on the spot
  • Plan worship earlier in the week than the night before
  • Getting sufficient rest to worship well and do the best job you can for God and the brethren
  • Leading without holding or even looking at the book
  • Leading away from the pulpit

Practice

It is often said that practice doesn’t make perfect; it makes permanent, so practice well. Commit your conducting to muscle memory so you don’t have to worry or even think about it. Get pitches down pat so they take a half a moment, not a half a minute. It takes merely 10-15 minutes per week will help you maintain your current skill level, but 45 minutes to an hour per week will cause you to grow by leaps and bounds. Conducting is a matter of muscle memory. You can worship while you lead others in worship, but it will require you to practice so it is second nature. Don’t be afraid to beat time to whatever music you’re listening to. If you are serious about becoming a choice instrument for the Lord, you won’t care how you look in the process.

Use Your Gift

If your church has an abundance of worship leaders, and you only get to lead occasionally, find opportunities to use your gift. Plan singing events and even help out area churches with their singing. Many or most of us know of a nearby congregation that has few or no worship leaders, and while that is a serious problem that they must fix lest they die on the vine, you can help them out and gain valuable experience at the same time.

Pray

An oft overlooked (and thus underrated) tool to help us grow is prayer. Ask God to humble your heart and then brace yourself for answers to that prayer in ways you could never imagine. Pray for wisdom as Solomon did. We all need more, and those in a position of leadership need it doubly so. Pray for opportunities to use your gifts for His glory.

What if my church doesn’t like some of the things I’ve learned?

  • Powerpoint slides
  • Occasionally conducting with the left arm
  • Using a handheld microphone
  • Stepping away from the pulpit
  • Leading new songs
  • Leading old songs in new ways

All of these and more have met resistance at some churches (often just with a couple of individuals). Please show them grace. They haven’t experienced what we have, and perhaps we would do well to walk a mile in their shoes too. Remember these techniques and technologies are designed to edify, and if they distract more than they edify, even due to somebody’s bad attitude, they are counterproductive. Have patience and keep it low key. Love your brother, even if he is unfair or narrow minded on these matters of judgment. Paul had much to say about this in Romans 14.

Find Other Ways to Serve

If we’re serious about our ministry in the church, we need to be willing to be used however we are needed. Worship leaders might find themselves in a situation where the church has an excess of worship leaders for a season. Be willing to serve in other ways, even if it’s taking out the trash. We might be surprised to find other areas where we’re gifted. Do other things with the same dedication and excellence as worship.

Read

Everybody benefits from reading, and especially aspiring musicians and worship leaders. For those interested in growing in knowledge of the arts of worship and worship leading, here are a few books that would serve you well to have on your reading list:

  • The Bible (of course!)
  • Dr. Jack Boyd – Leading the Lord’s Worship
  • R. J. Stevens & Tim Stevens – Rudiments of Sight Singing & Song Directing
    • There’s also an accompanying exercise CD so you can sing along with it and sharpen your rhythm and pitch skills.
  • Leland Fleming – Music Unplugged!
  • T. David Gordon – Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns
  • Bob Kauflin – Worship Matters
  • Bob Kauflin – True Worshipers
  • J. I. Packer – Knowing God
  • A. W. Tozer – Knowledge of the Holy
  • Alex Harris, Brett Harris – Do Hard Things
  • Francis Chan – Crazy Love (revised)
  • David Platt – Radical
  • James Humes – Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln
  • Rick Warren – The Purpose Driven Life
  • Rick Warren – The Purpose Driven Church

The usual disclaimer applies. If any material on your reading list disagrees with the Bible, you know what to do about it. However, truth is truth wherever it is found. God bless you in your journey as worshipers and worship leaders!

Love so amazing, so divine demands my soul, my life, my all. – Isaac Watts

Resources for Hymn Writers

Someone once said that our hymns are the music of those who are not musicians and the poetry of those who are not poets. Hymns are the spiritual language of the church set to song. Every generation needs to express its faith through song, and every generation does. More importantly, every generation needs to express that faith in an impactful way. However, few are able to compose original music that is suitable for congregations of all demographics.

A good hymn is not written by accident, but by dozens of hours of concentrated studying, writing, and editing. In some cases, a hymn is edited off and on for years before it is published. Though there are exceptions, the vast majority of good (lasting) hymns have 100+ hours of editing, and hymns with less time investment are likely needing a lot of scrubbing by an editor (or committee).

If you are interested in trying your hand at writing a hymn, or growing as a hymnist, you may share the experience I had–frustration at the apparent lack of resources for aspiring hymnists. A Google search and a visit to a book store might not yield many results, but there are more resources than you might think.

Every aspiring hymnist should have a reading list. The word of God should be perpetually be on that list, but there are also several very helpful books on the fine art of hymn writing. Here are a few that have blessed me in my journey as both an author and composer:

In addition to this reading list, there are some annual events where you can gain experience on writing lyrics and music:

  • The Hymninar – hosted every year on the beautiful University of Missouri campus in Columbia, MO. Dr. Craig Roberts hosts the event and uses his book, “A Good Hymn” as the primary textbook. Every hymnist (lyricist or composer) should go at least once. Every serious hymnist should go as often as possible. www.sumphonia.com/workshops/
  • Foundation School of Church Music – Founded in 1968, this annual singing school covers a wide range of topics from music theory fundamentals to worship leading to hymn writing. It is held in Buda, TX, just outside of Austin. www.foundmusic.org 
  • Texas Normal Singing School – The oldest running annual singing school in business. Like Foundation, they cover everything from worship leading to hymn writing. www.singingschool.org

Finally, if you’re on Facebook, there is a tremendous resource of a group called, “Church of Christ Hymnody”. The Hymnody group is a forum for hymn writers, worship leaders, hymnologists, and those who just love to sing. However, it is first and foremost a place to post and review new hymns, lyrics and music. The Hymnody group is one of the most active forums for hymn writing in the world today. Please join the discussion at www.facebook.com/groups/312787618749659

Happy writing!

“Holy New Creation”, a Brand New Hymn

Baptism

From time to time, worship leaders run into dead ends when trying to find a song that makes a particular point. We have lots of songs that allude to baptism, but many of them were not actually written with baptismal regeneration in mind–baptism for the forgiveness of sins. I believe that the New Testament teaches that baptism connects us with the work of Jesus, and as we are immersed and rise from the water, we reenact the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, raised as forgiven disciples. Romans 6 tells this story much more eloquently and authoritatively than I ever could.

Along this vein, we have very few hymns that talk specifically about baptism and our first steps as a young disciple. This being the case, and since I enjoy the challenge and the art of hymn writing, here is one of my original contributions in that area:

Holy New Creation

Long ago, the Prince of heaven
Came to Earth to save the lost;
Once, for all, His life was given–
Grace, at such enormous cost!
Mortal chains could not restrain Him,
Death forever lost its sting;
Earthly grave could not contain Him:
Jesus Christ, the risen King.

As I plunge into the river,
I surrender my control;
Burying my past forever,
Raised with Jesus, pure and whole.
By His calling and election,
Dead to all my former ways;
Raised to follow His direction,
I will serve Him all my days.

Now a holy new creation,
By His grace, I bear His name
And begin His transformation–
I will never be the same!
Now my path is growing clearer,
—Narrow, yet it glows with grace–
Heaven draws me ever nearer;
Joy awaits me in that place.

TLB, 2015
(music is also composed, pending editing and publication on http://www.songsofthechurch.org)

Digging Deeper: The Invitation Song

Heart

It’s Tuesday night, you’re sitting at the computer browsing a digital song concordance (or perusing a hymnal), sipping a bold cup of joe, and making a song list for the upcoming Sunday worship. Sometimes, these lists practically write themselves and sometimes, it takes a bit of digging to compile a solid song set. In churches of Christ, one of the most difficult songs to choose is the response or invitation song, at least for thoughtful leaders.

By nature, response songs should evoke or encourage a response to the Gospel, or at least get people thinking about their condition. We try not to sing anything even remotely unfamiliar because we want as much focus on the message and the occasion as possible. If we pick something that people can sing from memory, even better!

Every thoughtful worship leader has a difficult balance to maintain. We have a theme we’re planning that is parallel or complementary to the sermon, we have the balance of the functional and the interesting (there are plenty of songs that suit the occasion but aren’t particularly moving), the tired and the fresh, the nostalgic and the trendy. By the way, young worship leaders, when the older folks ask for you to lead “the old songs”, they don’t mean 17th century German chorales. They mean they want something nostalgic, and that usually means a gospel or Southern gospel ditty from the early teens to the 50s, but I digress!

When planning the response song, familiarity is important, but with the right perspective of the occasion, it doesn’t have to be the primary objective. Our primary objective is to evoke a response, causing somebody to reach out to the church or connect with Jesus, or to at least consider their condition and leave the assembly with the resolve to go to war with their vices. “All Things Are Ready” is not the only tool at our disposal, which might come as a shock to some song leaders (this is a low blow, I know).

We need to dig a little deeper and look beyond the “invitation songs” section of the topical index. What spiritual concepts might soften a heart and evoke a response? What well-known hymns touch on those ideas? If you look outside the “invitation songs” box, you will be amazed how many songs work extremely well here, and some that are effective because they’re traditionally used elsewhere in a worship service.

Consider the following concepts: Prayer, cleansing, lament for sin, praise for redemption, refuge, and resolve. Each of those ideas contains a world of possibilities, and precious few of the songs are being used in this part of worship, meaning you have a trove of fresh material. Sweet!
Here are a few suggested titles for each topic:

Prayer
  • Servant Song
  • On Bended Knee
  • Purer in Heart
  • I Need Thee Every Hour
  • Nearer, Still Nearer
  • My Faith Looks Up to Thee
  • Dear Lord and Father of Mankind
Cleansing
  • There’s a Fountain Free
  • There is a Fountain
  • Lamb of God
  • Nothing but the Blood
  • What the Lord Has Done in Me (Hosanna to the Lamb)
Laments
  • Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed (please for the love of all things holy, OMIT the ridiculous chorus!)
  • How Deep the Father’s Love for Us
  • Lord, Jesus, Think on Me
  • Flee As a Bird
  • I’m the One (arguably not my favorite, but it fits)
  • Father, We Have Sinned (Townend-Getty)
Praise for Redemption
  • O Thou Fount of Every Blessing
  • Hallelujah! What a Savior!
  • Revive Us Again
  • Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart
  • At Calvary
  • To God Be the Glory
  • Here Is Love
  • The Power of the Cross
Refuge
  • The Battle Belongs to the Lord
  • Hide Me Away, O Lord
  • A Shelter in the Time of Storm (the minor version is fantastic!)
  • Come, Ye Sinners
  • What a Friend We Have in Jesus
Resolve
  • I Am Coming, Lord
  • I Surrender All
  • I Have Decided to Follow Jesus
  • Just As I Am
  • Lord, I Lay My Life at Your Feet
  • A Passion for My God
  • Be Thou My Vision
You could easily add topics to this list, and titles to each of them. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list, but rather a sample to get the juices flowing. Get creative and think outside the box! Our job as worship leaders is to stir up the brethren to love and good works (Hebrews 10.24-25).

We have a tremendous responsibility, yet also tremendous resources at our disposal, for there has never been a time where the church had so much good music in its arsenal. Let’s sing the songs that soften hearts and evoke change, which will only happen through intentionality in worship planning and leading. The brethren and almighty God deserve nothing less.