25 Ideas on Worship Planning

Thinking ahead to the one day mini-conference on preaching and worship, here are 25 ideas for pastors and worship leaders on worship planning…

Plan a time to teach the whole church about the purposes of worship (bowing and serving), but do so only after you have delved into and been inspired by the Scriptural texts that form the background.

Make worship planning a group process; bring truly creative thought into the process.

Make sure the person doing the sermon or message is integral to the worship planning process.

Review the responses and comments from people in the church with the worship planning team. Don’t take flattery too seriously, and don’t get blown out of the water by scathing criticism. But look for the kernel of truth in every critique.

Ask all worship participants to prepare carefully because they are stepping into a divine action.

Listen to the questions and responses of different kinds of people (age, gender, race and ethnic background, spiritual maturity). Ask people for specifics. Watch for those subjects which cut across the lines of the Whole Church.

Expect worship leaders to serve God to the best of their ability, while not being limited to any artificial definition of excellence.

Take the effort to find worship songs that a) are singable, and b) have real content.

If there is special lighting in the worship space, use it to bring all worshipers together. Don’t be enslaved to stage-lighting standards which intentionally isolate performers from audience.

Break down barriers between worship leaders and the congregation. Teach that God is the audience, and all worshipers (leaders and congregation) are before God in the act of worship.

Try alternating between sermon series that studies of biblical books, and topical series.

Try doing a sermon series that takes a year to complete. Do not be limited to the common pattern of sermon series being two to six weeks long. (Talk to people and you will find that what they are primarily thinking about when they come to church is what is happening on that particular day.)

Share a teaching series. It is not necessary for one person to do all the messages in a particular series. In fact, sharing a book study, for instance, is a way of reinforcing the unitive power of the Word for the Whole Church.

Each January print a Scripture reading schedule that people can use to read through the Bible in a year.

Teach ministry leaders how to have meaningful prayer in all of their meetings.

Introduce extemporaneous prayer into worship if your church is liturgical; introduce set prayers into worship if your church is informal.

Give a handout that describes different Bible translations.

Insist that people who do prayers in worship services avoid tired old chiches and jargon (this can be hard!). Make a list of code lingo that a newcomer would not understand, and talk about natural-language substitutes.

Offer retreats for spiritual enrichment.

Have someone who is gifted in prayer give a personal testimony about how prayer has changed his or her life.

Recommend books on prayer.

Take time in worship for the careful reading of Scripture. Make such readings deliberate, carefully paced, and dramatic.

Teach about the biblical idea of meditation, explain the ineffectiveness and superficiality of always running to the next thing.

Make spiritual disciplines integral to whatever pre-membership instruction is used, and at every age level of Christian education.

In preaching, let the enthusiasm of personal discovery come through strongly, modeling personal Scripture reading as a core pattern.

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