Worship Corner - Columns/Blogs, Song Stories and Articles
About Greg Shumake As a singer, songwriter, conference speaker, and worship leader, Greg’s passion is to see the nations healed and delivered in every area, spirit, soul, and body. His desire is to see all people released to love and worship the Lord in spirit and in truth, seeking the face of God more than His hand.

The flow of a worship service is a journey. As with any journey, we have an initial starting point. It is essential to meet with your pastor before you do anything else in planning your flow. You need a sense of where his message is going to go that Sunday and then find out the key Scriptures that relate. That is step one in planning your worship journey.

The next step is prayerfully looking over your master song list. This is the creative brainstorming time. Begin to thematically pull songs. This is also the time to be thinking about a nice blend that best includes a wide range of ages and cultures. (Personally, I find it best to include at least one hymn and one modern chorus, but maybe an older chorus as well.) We’re not just leading twenty-year-olds; we’re hopefully leading everyone from teenagers to senior citizens. So it’s important to keep a balanced diet. It is vital that you think corporately; create an environment where music isn’t dividing your congregation, but actually drawing you together.

After your theme brainstorm, you begin to prepare yourself as a host; you are inviting people on a journey and along the way you have to use your practiced skills—from the very beginning when you come out and say good morning, to the point when you leave the stage, making way for the Word.

The opening song is an important one. When you have your theme list, you need to think: What would be a good opening song that gathers everyone? It’s good to mix this up a little bit too. If the last three weeks in a row you started with some real pep-rally, high-octane songs then the following week, just to so you don’t fall into a rut, start off with a hymn. A tender hymn will open the service on a contemplative note and you may be surprised how people appreciate that range—too much of any one thing gets dull. Always remember: it’s part of your job to be creative from Sunday to Sunday, that means don’t settle for just doing three fast ones and three slow ones. Use variety in song choice as well as tempo.

I know this sounds a little over the top, but it’s a good idea to graph your flow. There is something about seeing the sequence in one, two, three, four, five, six dots on the page. You can see if the worship variety is too level or if it’s too jagged like teeth on a jack-o’-lantern. While you graph, this is a time to expand your thinking. You are creating a journey with songs and prayers and Scripture and spoken word—everything and anything available to you to host people into connectedness with God. Look at the journey on the page and be open to prayer transitions, to Bible readings, to passing the peace. Do this with intentionality and do it with skill, and it’s a great idea to practice this as well. We practice guitar, we practice keyboards; it is just as important to practice the art of leading. Like our instruments, the flow of the service is a learned art that can add or detract from the journey of worship.

Republished by permission from Worship Leader Magazine

Paul also has a DVD series in which he covers the subject of flow in a more complete and visual manner. Order DVD

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Julia105 Posted 11/2/2010 8:13:56 PM
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! I recently got thrown in as the full time contemporary worship leader at my church. Let me tell you, for someone who's been teaching herself to play guitar over the course of a year and only had 1 month of lessons... not to mention had never lead worship on her own (especially with guitar), this is soooo helpful. I'm scared out of my mind right now! I know this is what God wants me to step up and do. Our associate pastor was laid off and he was the one who lead worship and then I started helping with singing... and when he got laid off I had about a week to find the courage and confidence to get up there and play and sing. It's still a little nerve wracking, but I've been going for 4 Sundays now and I'm getting stronger, more confident and learning a lot through communication with people who attend. Your article has helped me sooo much; I don't think you could fully ever know! Thank you!
dhild Posted 12/16/2009 2:39:20 PM
I've learned the hard way how to have "flow" in worship service. It wasn't until I gave up everything; musicianship, goals, gudelines, etc, and just let God be who He is, that "flow" in our church became amazing. Let nothing exalt itself above God!
estes Posted 8/15/2009 9:59:45 AM
Thanks Paul for encouraging me on using a variety of songs. Our band and praise team are very young band and it can be difficult at times to get them to see the importance of doing songs that relate to different ages and cultures. I have often wondered if I was on tract for pushing that. Thanks!
REllison Posted 6/24/2009 4:41:34 PM
Paul, I have your Creating Flow in Worship DVD and it was greatly helpful. Recently, however, I have assumed a role to lead worship for children (2 to Teen) and while I have tried to keep those same principles for use there but am unable. Any suggestions?
Marta Posted 6/3/2009 9:25:59 AM
Blessed be Your Name, Desert Song,things like that. It helps to set the tone and get those thoughts already flowing in their minds if that makes sense. HOWEVER, God can move in a service regardless of if the music matches. I think the key is to remain open to the Holy Spirits leading. God bless!
Marta Posted 6/3/2009 9:23:24 AM
bkirk-I have found that when I know the theme or topic my pastor is talking about, the songs before that go with that theme can really help set the stage. For instance, this week he's talking about God is in control, no matter the trial or storm. So I'm choosing songs like....
BKirkwood Posted 6/1/2009 11:29:54 AM
I was just discussing this with a friend this morning. He & I craft worship as Paul describes. My friend works with a leader of their "emerging" service who crafts a worship set with songs that flow well together irregardless of theme. We wondered if one way is better or just different. Thoughts?
Marta Posted 5/29/2009 8:54:45 PM
Thanks for this Paul. I recently started to meet with my Pastor each week to talk about his plans for the message and service. It has been one of the greatest tools in planning the worship set and flow for service! This is a great point you touched on. Thanks for this!
mr.tim Posted 5/26/2009 6:19:42 PM
Hi, Paul! (may I I call you Paul)? My big problem does'nt seem to be with the flow of things... However, your comments serve to validate my eforts in our new church! I think my big issue remains in having half-a-dozen riffs in my head and no lyrics or continuity to go with them! thanks!
dillman Posted 5/22/2009 8:30:50 PM
thanks, paul, for giving help in this way. i think that it helps bring us from being song leaders to being worship leaders. and these things might seem elementary but it's this kind of stuff that have caused me to find that sweet spot with God quicker and others as well. thanks for leading...

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