Think “Flow” not “Songs.”
It really matters how you approach planning a service. If you think about songs alone, you could easily plan a service that starts and stops without any obvious connection.
Think about the worship gathering as a single experience carried along by moments. Ask questions like these:
- What is unnecessary that can be eliminated?
- How will we transition from moment to moment?
- What will be the thread of focus that connects the whole service together?
Don’t Neglect the Word.
Strengthen your service by giving God’s Word prominence in the plan. Have the congregation read passages together. Use individuals to share a text over the introduction of a song or during a transition to a new song.
These can be supporting passages of the Pastor’s text, or not. Work in connection with him as you select scripture for the corporate worship time. Every time you read scripture in worship, you are opening the door for your people to hear from God.
Make Engagement the Goal.
Ensure that the first note your congregation sings is one they can sing with confidence. From the beginning all the way to the end, consider how the people you lead will engage in the corporate response of praise.
This impacts the songs you select, the keys you choose, the instrumentation you plan, the way you run the lights and sound, and the way you evaluate the service afterward.
John Maxwell often quotes this proverb; “He who thinks he leads, but has no followers, is only taking a walk.” I would apply it to leading worship this way; “He who thinks he is leading worship, but no one sings, is only doing a concert.”
Planning worship is a critical responsibility that should have high priority in our ministries. Make the commitment to be a student that never stops learning and growing as a worship planner.
Your church will be blessed as you do.
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.