Monday, July 21, 2008

The First Two Minutes

I've discovered that, the vast majority of the time, the first two minutes of our worship gatherings set the tone for the rest of the 1 hour 15 minutes we spend together. No matter what we do for the next 1:13, those first two minutes seems to control the atmosphere, energy and mood of the remaining time.

If we open with a prayer, the entire gathering tends to slow down and take on a more contemplative feel.

If we open with a silly video, the entire gathering tends to feel much more loose and casual.

If we open with a high-energy song, the entire gathering tends to feel charged and emotional.

If we open with a technical problem, the entire gathering seems to fall apart.

Of course, we realize that, God is more than capable of throwing our plans out the door and doing whatever He wants to. But, we also recognize that we have a huge responsibility during those first few minutes to help point everyone in the direction we believe God has led us to go. At Nags Head Church, we believe that every part of our worship gatherings should be connected with every other part in a seemless act of worship. The offering, the songs we sing, the prayers, the should all just be the next natural step in our worship journey each Sunday morning.

How do you set the tone for your worship services? Do you recognize the huge responsibility you have in those first few minutes to set the course? Do you even care?



Thom said...

tone setting..

this is quite topic for sure. tone can be so dynamic - solemn, joyful, reverent, energetic, peaceful, majestic, despairing, prideful, uncomfortable.

- just to name few

Obviously there are 'tones' that we want to avoid, yet there are so many others that are not inherently bad in and of themselves but rather add to a beautiful pallet of emotion and connection. (im not a hippy)

I do recognize the huge responsibility and yes I do care. I must admit sometimes too much. You know, when you're nit picking details and micro-managing just so everything goes the way YOU want it to.

But you have to care, if you didn’t care at all, then that would be the tone set from the get go - complacent, careless, pointless.

so how do i set the tone?
#1 pray pray pray
#2 have a purpose

As far as church services - I remember the church i served on the music team - we always aligned ourselves, the music, to the message. so a message of Gods power would be spirited, a message of the Crucifixion might be a little more reverent. (just a general example; not a road map) Plus we would always discuss with the pastor his particular spin that he was looking for. Not to dictate, but to guide.

#3 pray pray pray some more
#4 just do it

i can be a bit of a moody person (yes, its true). sometimes as we start up a worship set (speaking more recently now), the music seems to speak to me and then i communicate that feeling in the way i sing or pray or address the congregation or even how i play my instrument.

I can see (and have witnessed) the atmosphere set and unmoved by what takes place in the first two minutes. However, i have seen it turned around instantly at times as well. I've personally blown the first two minutes before. God didnt let it ruin the next 1.5 hrs. Praise God!

I guess, my opinion, you have to care, but all said and done, your not really in control (or at least you shouldn’t be)

Kimberly said...

I've noticed some of the same things about the flow of the energy in the room, but never really thought it through from this perspective before.

I have major concentration issues due to a medical situation, and for me, it's really important that I try to stay "tuned in" from the start - if I can't rein my mind in right in the beginning, I struggle through the entire morning.

Since I usually have a wiggly, giggly, midget man with me, it can be harder some days than others to keep from being distracted!

I also work a tremendous number of hours and rarely take time off - generally Sunday is my only day off in the week and sometimes not the full day, and I work 6 or 8 weeks without having a full weekend off - so come sunday morning, I'm exhausted to start with - which also can tear up my ability to concentrate.

There are some Sundays where the lassitude is palpable though, and I know it's just not my wandering mind alone! I often find I have to close my eyes while worshiping to completely block out all distractions, but still have to peep them open fairly frequently to ensure that the wiggle magnet is still next to me and behaving himself appropriately --

I always hope that the worship team can't see that I'm purposefully closing my eyes and feel that I'm trying to avoid their gaze or am sleeping or something! but who knows if they can even see out into the crowd with all those lights in their own eyes.