Thursday, July 12, 2007

Q&A #01: Service Order and Flow

As I surf the net and participate in several online, church and worship leader chat forums, I especially like to seek out questions and issues posted by church and worship leaders related to leading and teaching about worship. I love the interaction between people as we bounce ideas arround, and I love to be able to share my own thoughts as, usually, typing things out helps me to form my own ways of doing things. Often, I'll come across something new, but most of the time, the questions and issues raised seem to be common situations that many deal with.

So, this post is #1 (I've been reading a lot of stuff about Comic Books lately) in this Q&A series in which I'll actually pull, usually word for word (although I’ll keep the OP anonymous), a question or issue posted on one of the forums I frequent along with my reply with the goal of starting our own, productive and encouraging conversation. So, feel free to chime in with a comment, or just sit back and soak in the wisdom that I offer you freely (tongue is in the cheek).

OP: "At the new church I pastor they were without a pastor four eight months. We are trying to get the service in order…we are trying to do hymns and praise songs. We start at 11:00 am (making plans to start at 10:50) and this is our first week trying and it did not go as good as I thought it would. It didn’t mix well…it was like we had some leading hymns for the older people and praise and worship songs for the younger people. It's like we had 2 music parts of the service. And the person who is leading the praise songs wants to do it all but he is not ready so I’m praying about what to do. I need your help and advice on how to solve this problem. We are just trying to come up with some thing that will "smooth out the edges to get a more cohesive feel to the service as a whole.

here is how the service went last week...
open song
2 more hymns
Praise songs

But, they both sing too many songs...what do you think we could try?”

My Response: “Some suggestions:

1) Do a dress rehearsal with everyone involved (speakers, musicians, technicians, ushers, etc.) until everyone involved gets the natural feel for things.

2) Do NOT allow any unexplained "dead time" during the service. It's great to have time in your service to "be still", but only when you've explained that this is what's going on. One of the biggest killers in the flow of a service is "dead time" between any two elements of the service. Work with your stage leaders to create good transitions. See my first suggestion.

3) Begin teaching everyone, those on the stage and in the congregation, that every part of your service can and should be an act of worship: praying, Scripture reading, singing, confession, silence, being still, listening to a sermon, taking notes, giving an offering, baptism, communion, signing a commitment card, and even greeting other worshipers. Another big killer of a service is the mindset that every aspect of the service is it's own little thing...your mindset should be that every part of the service relates to every other part of the service, and you've got to get the whole church thinking this way to create the natural flow that you want. Two great ways to subliminally do this: the wording in your bulletin, and what you say from the stage. In one of my churches, we changed the wording in our bulletin for the order of service to read: Worship through Fellowship, Worship through Our Singing, Worship through the Word, etc. When we get up on stage to lead into an element of our service, we say something like, “We invite you to worship with us as we sing to and about our God” or “We’re going to take a few minutes to worship God with our offerings and tithes”.

4) Related to number 3: make sure that EVERYTHING you do in your service is done with a purpose in mind and that it all fuels your ONE purpose for the service. You’ll need to decide what these things are. For example, we decided that making a lot of announcements just did not fit with our purpose…announcements tend to mess up the flow of the service, and most announcements only target a small percentage of the audience. We now usually just make 2-3 quick announcements, and they always are targeted at the majority of the audience. Begin questioning everything that you do during your service: Why do we sit when we do, stand, sing, why do use the bulletin, video, why do we do the offering at a certain time, the singing, the preaching, etc?

5) Set a goal for everyone to do everything with excellence. Do NOT set the goal to give it their best…some really bad (poor talent) people can give it their best and it will always be bad. Aiming to do everything with excellence will help you figure out who’s found the right ministry team to service in, and who needs some help to find a different ministry team. Even if you’ve put hours into something (a song, a video, a live skit), if it can’t be done well, cut it out.

6) Spend all of your time casting the vision, which means you need to figure out what your vision is for Sunday mornings. Every time you open your mouth, you should be casting the vision…whether it be for the purpose of your church, your worship service, your small groups, people’s lives, whatever, always cast the vision. Paint a picture of what things could be, relate it to how they really are right now, and offer a simple strategy for fulfilling the vision.”

No comments: