There is an astonishing amount of resources available to worship leaders. From sound consultants to “environment specialists”, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by companies offering their services. Below is a list of resources that I have found very helpful, and use almost on a weekly basis in order to prepare to lead our church in worship. This list focuses in on the tools used to plan a Sunday gathering.
1. ESV Study Bible
In planning for a gathering, it is vital that the worship leader both knows and understands the text being exposited. The ESV Study Bible is the most comprehensive and accessible study bible available. This resource provides concise and helpful commentary on a text, which will allow a worship leader to draw out themes to emphasize throughout the songs, readings, and prayers.
Logos Bible Software (logos.com) is another tool I use in preparing to lead worship. Logos is the best online software, which holds thousands of commentaries and study tools. My goal in preparing to lead worship is to preach our primary text in song. This should not be overly complicated, but everything in the way I plan a gathering serves the text being taught. Either the “Starter” or “Silver” base package would be a good place to start.
Hymnals are an invaluable resource for worship leaders. Utilizing and learning from hymnals ensure our songs cover a rich landscape of doctrine and emphasis. When searching for songs that address a specific theme, hymnals provide indexes by scripture, theme, or genre. In my library are dozens of hymnals, of which the Baptist Hymnal (1975) is my favorite. Others I frequently use include Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs by Isaac Watts, Olney Hymns, Gadsby Hymnal, Rippon’s Selection, and Spurgeon’s Our Own Hymnal.
4. Valley of Vision
The role of prayer is often overlooked in worship planning. What will you pray? How will you pray? When will you pray? The Puritan prayer book Valley of Vision helps give voice and vocabulary to many types of prayer. As worship leaders, we must carefully think through the use of prayer, rubrics, and scripture readings as much as we plan the songs we will sing.
5. Leading in Prayer
The book Leading in Prayer by Hughes Oliphant Old is a helpful resource for thinking through public prayer. Prayer is often an underemphasized practice in gatherings, or is used as a transition element. Prayer is not a transition element, but a forming practice for our churches. Old walks through an engaging liturgy, setting his aim on equipping churches with leaders who utilize prayer through a biblical lens.
6. Planning Center Online
Planning Center Online (planningcenteronline.com) is the most comprehensive tool for administration in the worship leader’s toolkit. If administration and communication are challenges for your ministry, this software is extremely effective. This online software is available for a monthly service fee.
7. Praise Charts
If you are looking for a variety of charts on a budget, praisecharts.com hosts the widest range of options for the modern band. The site is very user friendly and offers the most reasonable pricing structure online. Even with this resource, I still encourage worship leaders to do your their own charts to help learn arrangements.
8. Christian Copyright Licensing International
CCLI is the organization that handles copyright licensing for churches. Acting as a liaison between publishing companies and congregations, their reporting system is a helpful tool for worship leaders. On their web site they maintain a database of what songs are being sung around the world, and offer other resources for worship leaders on their site.
9. The Gospel Coalition Worship
Seems self-serving, doesn’t it? Our goal for this blog is to be a continual resource for pastors, worship leaders, and their teams. Make this a place you regularly check for posts ranging from theology of worship to practical help (like this post). While you are here, look around at the other blogs to learn much more outside the scope of merely worship leadership.
10. Further the conversation
In a strange twist of irony, I’m only posting 9 resources for the Top 10 list. In the comment section of this post, please take a moment to further the conversation by making our readers aware of various places that would serve worship planners and leaders in their pursuit of gospel-centered worship.