Creating a Worship Atmosphere – Horizontal and Vertical Songs

We come together as a body of Christ to sing praise and worship. We do this as an act of adoration – recognizing that God is creator of all, father and provider, an Jesus Christ has saved us from death with his gift of grace.

It’s easy to build a Worship set on Sunday mornings that are fun, catchy, and gets the crowd singing. However; as a Worship leader your calling is to do more than pick fun music. It’s to create an environment that lets people connect with Jesus and invites the presence of the Holy Spirit into the room.

When you start picking your songs you can use a song selection based on horizontal and vertical focus.

Horizontal worship songs convey a message about God. We proclaim who He is and what He has done for us. It’s a reaffirmation of our faith and an expression of our recognition and gratitude for His blessings. We sing these songs as a congregation to testify on our faith and share our personal testimony.

Vertical worship songs are a direct conversation with God. Instead of singing ABOUT God, vertical worship are sung TO God. It’s a heartfelt prayer expressed in music.

  1. First things first, as a worship leader you need to communicate with your pastor – learn the message for that Sunday and the themes the pastor wants to convey.
  2. Start your worship sets with Horizontal songs – reaffirming your faith and fundamental theology of who God the Father is, the gift of grace from his Son Jesus Christ, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit we receive.
  3. As you create an atmosphere of worship and people open themselves up to the Holy Spirit you usher them to a more intimate connection with Jesus through Vertical Worship songs
  4. Don’t be afraid of stillness- or an opportunity for people to have spontaneous worship. This is not silence, but rather just a brief moment in your vertical song for people to sing what is on their heart.
  5. Practice transitions. Leading the congregation in a prayer in between your horizontal and vertical songs can help the congregation focus. It is also a good opportunity to focus on the song’s theme or the theme of the message. This does not have to be an elaborate or “super spiritual” prayer. You can also say a verse that supports the theme of the song as well.

Continue to grow and challenge yourself as a worship leader. Look for new ways to engage the congregation to encourage them to freely and fully participate in worship.


By Kimber and Michael Nettis

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