Let's imagine for a second that leading worship is like a serving a meal.
As a worship leader, you create a menu of items to serve people, you make sure you've got all the ingredients and you prepare, so that when it's time, the meal is just right.
But what kind of meal are you serving?
Some churches serve SALAD - fresh, organic, nutrient-rich. These are the sets that are declarative and doctrinal. The songs might be a bit wordy or "old-sounding" but the goal is clear: give people the stuff they need to be healthy and whole.
Some churches serve CUPCAKES - beautifully decorated, sugar-imbued vacations for the taste buds. These are the sets that feel good. The songs trend toward more emotional phrases like "I love you" or "I am Your beloved" but the goal is clear: bless people with an amazing experience.
SALADS aren't evil.
Neither are CUPCAKES.
But a diet of only one will make for a ineffective worship ministry.
I realize I'm mixing metaphors here, but hopefully it makes sense. When you lead worship, you bear a burden to present a balanced meal. People need to sing and hear doctrine. They also need to experience what it feels like to stand with their family and sing loud songs about God's mercy.
I want you to know two things about leading worship:
PEOPLE WANT CUPCAKES
Maybe it's because music is already an emotional art form or because they have history with some of the songs, but people people show up looking for the sweet stuff - what's gonna' taste and feel good. Imagine inviting people to a cupcake party and then demanding everybody eat a salad first...when you step up to lead, there are a lot of expectations about what you're gonna' give them.
CUPCAKES ARE EASIER
As a worship leader, it's way easier just to hit the feels. Thick keyboard pad, four-on-the-floor groove and dotted 8th delay and you got 'em wrapped around your little finger. In this day and age, it's way harder to teach them an 18th century hymn and hope they take to it.
In a set, you gotta' know where the cupcakes are so you can A) serve them well and B) find out where you can serve salad. It's good to have emotional moments in worship, but I believe those moments are at their strongest when sitting beside the declaration of Biblical truth.
Think about the cupcakes when you plan your set.
Think about the cupcakes when you're up there leading.
Put in the hard work to make sure your people are getting fed the good stuff. (BOTH KINDS.)