A New Template for Planning Worship Services
Is there any rhyme or reason to your planning? Or is every song set a new adventure with no real way of assuring consistent balance and depth? I fear it is all too easy for worship planners to fall into a pattern of either oversimplifying (by simply picking a few songs with little thought to why) or overcomplicating (by becoming obsessed with theming).
As I’ve mentioned before, I became disillusioned with planning my services exclusively around sermon topics. But I’ve long desired to write a follow-up post to offer a balanced alternative. In reading through Worship by the Book by Hughes, Keller, Ashton, and Carson, I had several brainstorms that led to this new worship planning model I’ve tried out over the past 6 months or so. It’s really more like a template and perhaps you can take ideas from it to use in your own planning process:
A song or reading that expresses praise to God for who He is and what He has done in our lives. While each of these elements can be placed in any order, I like to begin with praise. Especially, upbeat praise songs that get people’s blood flowing and their hearts focussed! Examples might include:
“…Let them all praise the name of the Lord.
For his name is very great…”
A song or reading that expresses what we believe about God. I also occasionally use Communion for this element because, by it’s very nature, it reminds us what we believe about Christ. Examples of songs and readings might include:
The Apostles’ Creed (To be read in unison with the church. Below is the version I use.)
THE APOSTLES’ CREED
I believe in God the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord:
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
the third day he rose from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and [sits] at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from [there] he [will] come to judge the [living] and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
[God’s holy Church],
the [community] of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
A song or reading that is either conducive to the confession of sin or confesses our need for God. Examples of songs and readings might include:
“Have mercy on me, O God,
because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins…”
A song or reading that expresses our love and devotion to God. Again, while each of these elements can be placed in any order, I like to end with adoration. There’s something more intimate about this moment. Examples might include:
“I love the Lord because he hears my voice
and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen,
I will pray as long as I have breath!”
I use the preceding elements before the message/sermon. Afterwards, I typically plan 2 worship songs to encourage the response of the church to what they’ve just heard from God’s Word. This element does require communication with my pastor about where he’s headed or “what’s the big point this week?”
For me, this template or model grew out of a desire for something richer, to take the church deeper. Our church does not practice high-church or liturgical worship and, so, there is a need for some measure of “quality assurance” and I’ve found that in this planning method.
What do you like or not like about this concept?
Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”