5 Helpful Guidelines for Selecting Songs for Online Worship

1. Keys are Key

You’ve heard it before – and it’s especially true if for online services. If you want people to sing along with you, put the song in a key that they can sing – or at least hum along with! Imagine me standing on a soapbox here: songs in the key of the radio artist are almost never in the right key for your congregation. If you sing it where more people can join in, they will be more connected and more likely to be engaged in worship.


2. People love the familiar

Honestly, don’t you love it when a hear a familiar or even your favorite song? Sure you do – we all do! Especially now, people want to hear a song that is familiar. As tempting as it may be, this is probably not the time to roll out a new song – even that new song you were going to introduce for Easter. If you do give in to temptation and introduce a new song, make sure that you and your full team are well prepared to present a song of worship. Hang on! We will be back together soon.


3. Is this a (a) performance or (b) worship service?

If you selected “b” congratulations! You are a worship leader! Don’t get me wrong. I’m for making live and streamed services look and sound the best we can. We need do practice, even the little things, to smooth out our services and not let them be a distraction. However, we are sharing space and time for people to join hearts in worship. Resist the temptation to over produce the service. Here’s a guideline: do you spend more time on sets or prayer? This is a time the time to do everything you can to offer hope, comfort, and encouragement. Reach out through your service and give them a little hug.

Remind your singers, tech crew, and others to be real and authentic. Encourage them to simply worship. This will come through and be a blessing to your worshipping community.


4. Numbers count!

I’m not talking about the engagement numbers. I’m talking about how long your online service should last and how many songs you should sing. I know there will be some that want to duplicate a regular “gathered” worship time for your online service. Just be aware that online services feel much different than live services.

Think about 2 or 3 songs at most. Remember, even long contemporary songs have a “radio version” because they know we won’t stay engaged for a 6-minute song. As for the total service length, you know the joke: no one ever complained about a short sermon. Well, that’s probably not true, but you get the idea. Remember, you want them to engage with you next week, too!


5. Think about your congregation

Really, right now, put a face to those will be watching your service. Do you see them? John – wondering about his job? Sarah – trying to enter a time of worship, but she has 2 children that are vying for her attention. How about Gary and Carol – the faithful senior adults that have been such and encouragement to you. How about a person that just found your service on line? What would you say to them?

We have a few minutes that they are concentrating on something other than the news, something other than worrying about family across town or the country. This is it – your time to remind them that there is a God, and he loves them.