3 tips for choosing great praise team songs

Lemmie Battles & Virginia Mass choirWith more and more church music ministries moving toward using praise teams now than ever before, many people are finding choosing the right songs rather challenging. This is especially true in Gospel Music where praise teams are still relatively new in compared to churches where the predominant style of music is Contemporary Christian music.

In African-American churches where choirs and congregational singing have been the main staples for so many years, newly formed praise teams can find themselves struggling to make the transition to singing a style of music that is quite different. For many music directors the line is between what constitutes a good praise team song vs a good choir song is still rather blurry at times.

I’ve been asked a couple of times myself – most recently on my Fan Page – about how to choose good praise team songs. So in today’s blog I thought I’d offer 3 simple guidelines anyone can use to help identify songs that would be great for the praise team.


1. The lyrics should focus on Praising and/or Worshiping God

Here’s the first place most churches who have used only a Gospel choir first get confused. Quite often you’ll hear a great song and you simply can’t decide whether to give it to the choir or the praise team. The simple rule for praise and worship songs is that they’re always about praising and/or worshiping God. For example, the average choir song could be about almost any aspect of the believer’s daily walk. Choir songs often talk about faith, coming through trials, waiting on God, believing and standing on His promises, etc.

Praise and worship songs are different in that they usually speak almost exclusively about the attributes of God, His goodness, power, amazing love and forgiveness. The distinction between “Praise” and “Worship” is often dictated by the tempo- praise songs usually being more up-tempo while worship songs are slower and focused more intently on the loving relationship between us and God.

It’s important to note though, that just because a song is great for a praise team doesn’t mean a choir can’t do it. Hezekiah Walker and Love Fellowship Choir’s “You’re All I Need” is a great example of a gospel choir doing a song that has all the elements of a great praise team song.

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2. The song structure should be relatively simple and repetitive

The goal of praise and worship songs is to create an atmosphere that encourages true worship and communion with God. As such the songs you choose should be easy to follow and catch on to for the audience. This encourages participation and minimizes distractions that more complicated songs can somtimes cause. Often the most powerful praise and worship songs are songs that just repeat 2 or 3 simple refrains, only changing a word or 2 from line to line. These kinds of songs really help the audience focus on praising and worshiping God by focusing their minds and hearts on Him.

Simplicity t is also a very important thing to consider because praise teams don’t normally have a director standing in front of them to lead them though the different sections of the song. Choosing simple, repetitive songs makes it easy for the praise team members to follow simple vocal or musical cues to move from one point to the next, so that they too can focus on God without distraction.

3.  The song should fit your team’s skill level and vocal range

One big adjustment you’ll need to get used to when moving from the choir to the praise team is that the songs require a higher level of skill. Praise team songs, while they are often more simple in format, can often be more demanding in harmony and range. The most important thing to focus on when choosing songs for your praise team is not choosing the hottest song out, or choosing the one the team likes. The most important thing is choosing the song that will be the most effective tool for helping create that atmosphere of praise and worship.

As such it’s important to choose songs your team can do well. This does take some honesty, and quite often may lead to your team having to pass on a song they really wanted to do. But in order for a praise team to really be effective they must perform at a higher level of skill. Much moreso than in the choir where there are large numbers, every voice on a praise team is important. Every person has a microphone, so vocal ability, tone, pitch and harmony are all much less forgiving than in the choir stand.

A newly formed praise team may take a while to develop to that higher standard of excellence. In the meantime it’s important to do songs that are easier to perfect. The good thing is that there are many songs like that in Praise and Worship music. Songs with easy, straight-forward harmony and vocal ranges that aren’t challenging for most people.

In summary, choosing the right songs for your praise team doesn’t have to be hard at all, especially with so much praise and worship music available now. This simple guideline along with prayer and unity will help your praise team choose the best songs for you and your congregation.



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12 Responses to 3 tips for choosing great praise team songs

  1. Rosemary C. Fisher says:

    Thank you so much in the steps to an effective praise team ministry. Very informative and suggestive. Appreciate all the ideas on the guidelines for songs that bring glory to the name of Jesus when the praise & worship team are prayerful & united. William Mc Dowal is a good selection for a praise team. God Bless.

  2. alyce says:

    What I appreciate about your approach to your posts is that you do not assume folks know about the details (there are no ‘little things’) that make it all hang together. You are informatively explicit, yet make it seem do-able. It’s a gift! 😉

  3. david mulee says:

    thanks Rony for this wonderful stuff .. iav found it helpful.! and i wish i can get more of your articles thru my email adress … God bless you for his ministry

  4. Venera Whitlow says:

    Another great article of help. Thank you.

  5. Tiffany says:

    Very helpful

  6. Jaye says:

    What are some easy songs that you recommend for a small praise team with limited powerhouse type vocals. We are comprised of 2 women who can harmonize and 1 soloist.

    • Ron Cross says:

      Hi Jaye! The great thing about praise and worship is that you really don’t need the ‘powerhouse” vocals for much of it. For your situation I’d look at the simpler worship songs (which I think are more powerful anyway). I really like William McDowell’s stuff for example. He has a couple of songs that don’t do anything but repeat one simple refrain. Contemporary Christian artists are also a great source for good songs that can sound good with two part harmony and don’t need any yelling or loud singing (not that any song does, lol). Check out Youtube also. A search on praise and worship music will bring up all kinds of great stuff. Hope this helps!


  7. Claudia Looi says:

    I like tip #3. I’ve been asked to play the keyboard for our church when the lead keyboardist is away in Kenya. Guess what I’ll be doing? Simple C or G majors with simple structures as suggested. Ha, 🙂 Great post!

  8. Great article, Ron! These are all great points. I know when I am praising, if we get off on a song that benefits us, but isn’t focused on God, it makes me lose focus of why we are there to begin with. I like that you pointed that out first and foremost!

    • Ron Cross says:

      Thanks Jessica! It’s true. As musicians both I and the other band members have to constantly reel ourselves in when we’re evaluating songs for the choir or praise team. We have to insure we’re listening past a great beat or “fun stuff to play” and getting to the heart of the message.

  9. Olga Hermans says:

    I love it when the worship leader “speaks/sings” in between the songs and takes us deeper into worship and higher in praise..or both of course!! I also see the importance of the “simple” text in the songs. We should not have our mind work on the text while our heart wants to worship….love your instructions Ron!! Great sonf fom Hezekiah Walker…didn’t know him…

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