Brooke Ligertwood’s Tips for Crafting Dynamic Worship Setlists

  • Written By 
  • Josh Kluge

Worship Setlists

If you’ve led worship, you know picking a setlist is not mindless, quick, or easy. I started to lead worship 15 years ago and quickly became familiar with this. It is super easy to select a bunch of random songs that we are personally passionate about. But picking proper worship setlists is more than compiling a set of our current favorites, up-tempo to anthemic ballads. It takes prayer, strategizing, & intentionality to craft dynamic worship setlists.

With so many factors to consider, it’s crucial to have a healthy process for picking the proper worship setlist for your service. We had a conversation with Brooke Ligertwood about this very thing. So today, we dive into some of her tips and a few additional insights to consider when crafting your worship set.

We know you’ll walk away from this post equipped with the tools you need to ensure you’re partnering with the Lord in crafting a worship setlist that pushes people to adore Jesus and fill their hearts with a deeper understanding of who Jesus is.

The goal of a well-selected worship setlist allows “everyone to have an access point at some point, no matter how they’ve walked in.” So before we discuss the type of songs we should do in our sets, we must start with a few super practical steps.

1. Seek the heart of God

I don’t know about you, but it is super easy for me to start with strategy and, halfway through my time of planning, realize that I haven’t created intentional space to engage the heart of the Lord regarding His agenda for my worship setlists. “My worship setlists….” That statement is a bit funny. That level of possession is ironic because, in reality, it belongs to the Lord.

So, seek His heart. Ask the Lord if there’s anything specific He wants to say to His people in this service.

2. Take the pressure off yourself

In the same breath as seeking the heart of God regarding our worship setlists, take the pressure off yourself to get it perfect. In moments when songs aren’t coming to your heart, don’t beat yourself up and feel a ton of pressure like you will ruin the service if you don’t find the perfect song.

Trust in his sovereignty. He’s God. If He wants a specific song to happen, He’ll ensure it gets there. But then, also, maybe He doesn’t want a particular song in your set. What if He wants to know what you want to say to Him today? What if He’s saying, “Hey, what do you want to tell me today? How do you want to tell me you love me? You want to tell me that I’m good through King of my Heart. Amazing!” “Oh, you want to tell me that I am worth laying your life down for and giving everything up for through singing Worthy of it All? Wow, that moves my heart!”

Take the pressure off yourself and tell him who He is, how you need Him, and how much you love Him.

3. What serves your worship team?

As you craft your worship setlists, look at who is scheduled for that day. Are the people on the team familiar with the songs you’ve selected? Obviously, it’s completely okay to do a new song. On the other hand, if you have a new person on the team who hasn’t played most of the songs before, it probably isn’t wise to include a musically complicated song in the setlist.

Brooke talked about this at length. Learning songs is truly difficult for some more than others. So look and see who is on the team for the week you’re planning to determine if things need to change in light of who’s rostered. Don’t throw your team under the bus; avoid creating a setlist that totals to unreasonable expectations.

A quick tip: don’t schedule your setlist three days or less before the service. Personally, I think that’s a highly disrespectful move as a leader. I understand there can be factors at play that take the timeline out of your control, but for everything you are in control of, be early. Operating last minute when it comes to things others have to perform is the quickest way to kill culture and cause people to quit your team.

4. What serves your congregation?

In the same way, we need to think about our congregation’s experience with the setlist we choose. Brooke will get down to the nitty-gritty with this. “I’ll do one wordy song and then bracket it with familiar songs.” Also, ensure you aren’t constantly introducing new songs to your people. If you’re going to introduce new music, do that song a few weeks in a row, take a break for a week, and do it again the 4th week. At that point, the song is well integrated into your service.

Additionally, we must “carve out moments to be still in our worship setlists to give space for Holy Spirit to move.”

Taking time in our sets to be still before the Lord teaches our people the importance of waiting on the Lord. Who knows, maybe there’s something the Lord wants to do in the moment of stillness in His presence that someone in the congregation desperately needs.

5. Partner your worship setlists with what God is currently doing in your community

A straightforward question, how can you amen what your pastor is speaking on in the service you’re planning for? The Lord has given them an agenda for the service. We want to ensure that we are leaning into what our community leader is sensing God wants to do.

Additionally, as worship team members, we are people immersed in the worship movement. Constantly surrounding ourselves with new songs and consistently engaging in the place of worship throughout the week.

Good worship leaders know how to separate their personal lifestyle of worship from their role. This allows them to make decisions for their worship setlists, not solely based on what currently resonates with them in their personal time of worship.

This doesn’t mean that we can’t incorporate songs that we love into our worship setlists. But it does recognize that “just because this song is really ministering to me right now, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is right for our congregation right now.” Brooke states, “It’s all about finding the sweet spot where we carry personal conviction for the songs we lead and what’s the right song for the moment.”

Now that we’ve talked general principles, let’s talk song selection and worship setlist order.

Brooke Ligertwood’s worship setlist arch

In addition to the practical, crafting our worship setlists with theological intentionality is imperative. We need to take our people on a journey.

Brooke talked about three main things she intentionally incorporates into every worship service, no matter how long or short the set time. Here we explore each of those components and their value. Additionally, I’ve added one more that I think is important to have in our sets. Below you’ll see four types of songs listed in a very intentional progression.

We also give examples of songs that fit within these categories. Almost every single song on our list has tutorials on how to play these songs! Click here check out 100s of tutorials and start your free trial today!


We must pick sets with a holistic approach. That way, we aren’t incorporating the songs we currently love and resonate with, but we are painting the complete picture of God. First, this journey shifts our people’s attention from distractions to the presence of God. Second, it gives a place to engage His heart about what’s going on in their lives. Lastly, it centers their foundation on the character of who He is and builds our love for Him.

1. Welcome and Gathering Songs

The power of these songs is they grab our attention and center it on how in this time of worship, we are about to enter into; we want to experience the power of the Lord. It sets anticipation for the upcoming time of worship.

Another great way to do this is with captivating calls to worship. Check our blog written by Jonathan Swindal on this very thing.

Additionally, have you ever entered a time of worship with a thousand different things on your mind? Or have you ever entered a time of worship where to state it plainly, you weren’t in the mood to worship? These songs are a great way to shift our attention to what matters.

Welcome / Gathering Song Examples

House of the Lord by Phil Wickham

Here for You by Matt Redman

Open Up the Heavens by Vertical Worship

This is Amazing Grace by Phil Wickham


I love these types of songs because they can shift our attention from all that’s going on in our lives to remembering all the beauty God’s brought to our lives. There’s something truly powerful about expressing thanksgiving and gratitude to the Lord.

I’ve learned that shifting our attention from the unknown ahead of us to remembering all that God’s done for us fills our hearts with awe, peace, and confidence. An awe at the goodness of God, relaxation at the control He possesses, & a belief that just as He was faithful back then, He will continue to be faithful. Talk about a powerful experience to lead our people through in our worship sets. Like Brooke said, “It’s important to have songs in our worship sets that declare faith over what we’re going through.”

Thanksgiving/Adoration Song Examples

Gratitude by Brandon Lake

Goodness of God by Bethel Music

Thank You, Jesus by Hillsong

Good (Can’t Be Anything Else) by Cody Carnes

King of My Heart by John Mark McMillan

Thank You, Jesus for The Blood by Charity Gayle

You & You Alone by UPPERROOM

Thank You y Bethel Music

Devotional and Lament

Now that we’ve spent time shifting our attention off of all we are going through and have centered our focus on the reality of Jesus, now’s the time to bring our burdens. Why we wait this long into our worship sets is twofold. One, there’s something beautiful about getting our attention off how big our problems are and placing it onto the majestic nature of who God is. Two, when we spend time focusing on His character and faithfulness to us in our past, it shapes how we approach God and our situations.

Additionally, our worship sets need these times when the people of God can come before their Father in desperation. In any relationship, it’s essential to give space to be heard. Moreover, the Lord wants us to share our burdens with Him. He wants us to cast our cares on Him. Yes, joy comes in the morning. But to get there, you must first engage with the night.

The goal of our church services and worship sets is to create space to focus our attention on the Lord & equip our people for the rest of the week. The heavy things happening in people’s lives are often present when they leave our services. So as good shepherds, we should seek to engage what’s prevalent in the lives of our people. Creating space to engage with our burdens invites the Lord’s voice to speak into those places.

Devotional and Lament Song Examples

Same God by Elevation Worship

Believe For It by CeCe Winans

Firm Foundation by Cody Carnes

Take You at Your Word by Cody Carnes

Never Walk Alone by Hillsong

Surrounded by UPPERROOM

High Praise

Now that we’ve spent time centering our focus on Jesus, giving thanks for who He is, and bringing our burdens to Him… NOW we spend time admiring the Father. We end our worship sets with songs of High Praise because that’s the chief purpose of what we are created for. God created us to be in intimate communion and friendship with Him. High Praise is the pinnacle of our times of worship because it’s about pouring our affection on the Lord for who He is. As Brooke states, the purpose of high praise is “as we magnify God’s identity, we also discover our own. The songs that help us discover who we are are the songs that do not talk about self.”

High Praise builds our identity

I find strength in my position as a son of God the more I focus my heart on the beauty and power of my Father. But again, we don’t do this for the sake of how it benefits us. In the same way, I don’t tell my best friend I love them because of how it benefits me. My expression of love is a response to awe. This is our purpose. To be caught up in awe of The Lord.

The goal of our worship setlists is to end in a place of awe and praise.

Like the seraphim in Revelation 4, whose gaze is entirely fixed on the Lord declaring, “Holy Holy Holy!” The seraphim don’t do this because they are required. The reason the seraphim proclaim “Holy Holy Holy!” is a direct response to how overwhelmed they are by the beauty and power of the Lord. That’s the goal of High Praise, to lead people to a place where they can’t keep themselves from crying out, “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God almighty. Who was, who is, and who is to come!”

High Praise Song Examples

A Thousand Hallelujahs by Brook Ligertwood

I Speak Jesus by Charity Gayle

King of Kings by Brooke Ligertwood

Worthy of It All by David Brymer

No Other Name by Hillsong

Jesus, We Love You by Bethel Music

I Love You, Lord by Keith Green

Holy & Anointed One by Vineyard Worship

What about songs that don’t cleanly fit into the pathway?

It’s totally okay if there are songs that don’t cleanly fit into this sequence. For instance, it’s totally fine to incorporate missional-focused songs into our worship setlists. This arch is simply a guide to help you intentionally craft a holistic experience for your congregation. The intention here is to help our people see who God has been in there lives already, give them space to welcome Him into their right now, and end in the place of growing their love and affection for Him.

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Brooke Ligertwood's Tips for Crafting a Dynamic Worship Setlist

Brooke Ligertwood’s Tips for Crafting Dynamic Worship Setlists

Worship Setlists If you’ve led worship, you know picking a setlist is not mindless, quick, or easy. I started to lead worship 15 years ago and quickly became familiar with this. It is super easy to select a bunch of random songs that we are personally passionate about. But picking proper worship setlists is more …

Brooke Ligertwood’s Tips for Crafting Dynamic Worship Setlists Read More »

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