Being organized is a good thing for a worship team. Taking time to plan out a worship set is very important as you pray, listen to that still, small voice, and go with the songs you feel like you are being led to do.  Sometimes, themes emerge in planning, and sometimes they emerge during the actual service, and sometimes you don’t know why God gave you those songs, but He knows. So while planning is important, communicating that plan to a worship team is valuable as well.

Sometimes surprises are good and exciting, and sometimes you wish you had a little warning ahead of time.  Just showing up to practice with a list of songs or not having songs at all most likely falls into the category of surprises that your worship team will quickly grow weary of.  I know that sometimes worship leaders might change songs during a set or on Sunday morning, depending on how he or she is being led by the Holy Spirit, but in most cases when I hear of leaders doing this kind of thing, they will still rehearse songs within a set structure and then they have freedom within that structure to follow the guiding of the Holy Spirit. So what tools do we use to communicate to our team?

One really popular online planning tool that I have had experience with in the past is http://www.planningcenteronline.com. This online planning site is really popular and for good reason.  It is internet based and password protected, so it can be accessed anywhere, and as an administrator the leaders in various ministries in the church can use it to communicate with their team about who is available to serve, the song lists, the service plans, it hosts mp3’s of songs so that team members can listen and practice along, team members can click whether they are available or not for certain Sunday’s, etc. The list goes on. This is a great tool if you have multiple worship team members or worship bands that you need to communicate with and schedule. But of course, it costs money!

So for our purposes as a smaller sized church with a small but growing worship team, I have had good success with the planning tool at http://www.lifewayworship.com. This site has a handy service planning tool, which will allow you to pick out songs, drop and click different service elements in, and it will add up service length time. It gives Scripture references for all the songs, which I like alot, and although I rarely use this, it has a Song Mapping feature, which lets you move around verses, choruses, bridges, etc. so you can hear what various arrangements sound like. Another great, great feature of lifewayworship is they have sheet music for $1.49 a song. That is a great price! Most online sheet music sites are $4.99 or up for a single song. We really like the full arrangements with the bass parts instead of just the lead sheets which are easier to come by, so for us, the sheet music price is great.

O.k. this next part is a little technical, but I use another free online tool called CutePDF writer, which acts as a printer and takes whatever document you send to your printer and turns it into a pdf file that you can save. With the service plan that I have created at lifewayworship, I just click print, select CutePDF writer as my printer and now the service plan is saved as a pdf document. I can email this out to the worship team a few days before our practice, along with pdf files of our songs and they can see what is coming up. If a song is new I can include a link to a YouTube video of the song and they can listen to it that way.

By the time we practice on Wednesday night, everyone knows the set list, they have printed out the songs if they don’t have them already, and they have even listened to the new ones on YouTube. Of course, it helps to have a worship team that is really, really good about being prepared for practice! Ours is beyond great in that regard!

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