That's prett much what I said. Good post.The "God showed up" language makes me nervous. I think He is always "showing up" the bigger problem being that we don't recognize and respond to His presence.
He is constantly initiating worship (John 4 "seeking worshipers" in active tense in Greek), we are not always aware or responding. This changes my perspective as WL from getting God to show up to helping people overcome the obstacles to their awareness of His presence and activity.
He reveals...we respond.
Okay, fine, bad choice of words, but do you at least get my point?
Can I get a little more talent in the monitors?
I'm not sure I made my point clear - it was a simple question. Is it possible to so overplan that we leave no room for a movement of God that might be different from what WE planned?
Here is a simple example that has actually happened to us: we plan for a skit following the worship set and we get to that point and I'm sensing that God would have us linger so as I pray I am attempting to discern what God would have us do. However, we're so used to a really tight service that the skit cast was already setting up while I was praying, thus trumping other options. Then I've also had a strong sense at the end of worship that God desired us to do a ministry time or change direction a little but we plow on into the sermon without seeming to notice.
This has led me to wonder if we overplan, if we pack the services too tightly and in the middle of it all if we are even open, listening or aware if God would have us go in a different direction.
I've been leading for a long time and am well aware that "God is in the planning as well". I also am aware that God is God and can move when and how He likes and He may choose to do something in a manner that does not respect my technical cue sheet!
It's a balance question - how do we balance this and train our people to be sensitive as well. It's just a conversation I want to have - not a judgment or anything as I am not sure of the answers.
Just wondering if anyone else ever feels that tension or looks back later at your services and wonders if you "overran" God in some way? (felt a prompting and ignored it!)
I always plan so I'm not saying throw planning out - I see the point in that totally.
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We do pack our services too tight. We do try and cram every spiritual discipline into an hour and a half on sundays.
Again, I'm thinking that a "healthy" church senses that God moves all the time and creates spaces/environments/connections for people to move towards God.
I get what you're saying Jan. I don't believe the solution is necessarily in trying to be more "free" within the crunch of the 2 hours we've "set aside" each week to "do" church.
Personally, I believe it comes down to purpose. What is the purpose of your gathering?
If people come expecting to get a packaged experience for about an hour and a half and then one Sunday out of every 2 months the "leaders" just disrupt that routine, it can be messy.
Not saying that's right. But I think we need to do a better job of defining the paradigms of ministry in each gathering that we hold.
At our place our Sunday gathering really isn't for all of our believers who are trying to get "lost" in God. It's not for the believer who is trying to find some sort of intimate experience in worship. I guess you could say that it's not even for what the majority of my fellow church goers (at least in the charismatic vein) would call ministry time.
Our primary gathering is 2 fold. For the one who is far from God, we paint a picture of a God who cares about them and wants them to know Him and know joy and peace in all circumstances. For the one who is walking with God, our primary gathering is a place where they can lock arms with those who are not quite as far along in the journey (believers and nonbelievers) and SERVE them.
We teach Scripture. We worship God. We just don't spend a whole lot of time doing altar calls, ministry time, or really churchy moments that intimidate those who are far from God.
We save all those for our small home groups and what we call our "Believers" services. We rock out worship a whole lot longer, partake in Communion, and have more intense and longer teaching. Plus, we leave a WHOLE lot of room for the people in those gatherings to BE ministers and to DO ministry.
I'm guessing that the goal is the same as most churches, we just feel that a church full of people who are empowered to do ministry throughout the week regardless of location is more effective than a few "ordained" ministers doing it within the cramped confines of a 2 hour service.
So, from my perspective, planning to be effective and efficient in the use of our ministry time is more important than just squeezing some empty space into a place where it's not so effective.
Like I said, Yes. hehehe
Yes Russ is right about purpose though ours is exactly inverted from his.
We, while welcoming unbelievers, gear our service to be a worship-discipleship purposed. In a sense, unbelievers are invited to "watch what we do" as they cannot truly worship. We have found this creates a hunger within them. We call for radical immediate and sometimes difficult obedience in our services (something which wouldn't be in a "seeker" church).
We expect and hold Teams (small groups) accountable to do the evangelism and then to take responsiblity for anyone that responds yes by walking with them in the discipleship process and folding them into their Team. So much so that we are contemplating a Team that doesn't grow and multiple in a year gets shutdown as "dysfunctional."
We are a Go and Tell church more than a Come and Hear (at least ideally so). Engage the public square.
SO, Russ's service and miy service designs should look diametrically different in some respects.
This was a good one, hope I'm not too late.
I understand the question and agree with both Russ and Trench- our service is actually even a blend of theirs. We invite all believers who are present to #1 worship as they are moved and #2 for them to example the freedom of such to those who might not yet be believers. we are independant Baptist so not as free as I would like. (different topic).
Anywho, I am a big believer that the Spirit will move during your planning and through prayer the Spirit will actually do the planning. But I also enjoy the freedom of being able to change things on the fly. Linger on a chorus, repeat something, etc. I have to be careful because the musicians, although I love them to death, are not quite to the point where they can "go with the flow." Therefore, musically, I have to stay with the planned maps. To loop a chorus is no biggie but to loop back and ad lib on the verse or anything like that would cause a train wreck. Someone said something about leaving little unplanned gaps just for this purpose which is a great idea, "planned spontaneity."
Last thing- God is always there so "showing up" is not the issue. Just a question, no negative tone intended- Would your question be better posed as "Do we plan to the extent that we don't allow time for the people of our congregation to respond to God's presence?"
Love the Lord your God with all your heart with your soul with all your mind and with all your strength!!
For me, it's simple.
Too much planning...bad
Love ONE woman...MANY guitars!
All of the planning drives me NUTS!
I so wish we could have that easy feeling of letting the spirit flow into our praise time.
Its slowly manifesting but I long for the day when we can comfortably have that.
If we go over just a little bit on music time I get the uneasy feeling that our pastor is going to get nervous because it will mess up his planned schedule.
I didn't mean to be inaccurate, but I wasn't trying to be precise.
I agree that God is always at our services, but that we often do not recognize Him. Our services are planned out pretty tightly, but there is always the ability of the Worship Leader to take more time here, or cut a song there. I think that is one of a worship leaders most important jobs - to help the congregation respond to the Holy Spirit's presence. We need to point out God to those who may be missing that He is with us. We are not merely song leaders or setup men for the pastor. We are given the task of leading people into the presence of God. If we short that for the sake of staying on schedule we have shortchanged our congregation's experience of God.
I work and lead worship in a traditional liturgical context. This doesn't mean we only wear robes and have the organ. Our music probably doesn't differ from many of your churches.
My main role is leading our Worship Design Team. We plan alot. We have every minute noted in our structure. But, I would then say that 40% of the time, we go completely off the Order and fly by the seat of our pants. The tech guys roll with it, the musicians, and the other participants. We plan so we can do this seamlessly and no one notices. I liken it to being a jazz musician. You don't just decide you are going to play jazz. Every really good jazz musician I know has spent his (or her) time in the woodshed,and they know every scale and inversion you can think of. But when it comes time to play, they are able to forget it all. They say that their rehearsal builds up muscle memory, and the ability to see in front of what is being played. Planning well AND executing well allows for the leaders to recognize when they need to go off the order. When you have this structure, you can almost see scenerio's and how to run the rest of the service. If I am not leading that day-its not odd to see me texting our tech guys and my boss to make sure that things still appear seamless to the congregants. It rarely goes bad, but it is because we planned really well.
As for the idea of "God showing up", I think it is a dangerous idea that we have allowed to creep into our heads. As dangerous is the idea that spontaneous worship is what the spirit will respond to the most/best. I think of the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal when this topic comes up. The prophets of Baal working themselves into a frenzy, screaming and cutting themselves. They believed this behavior would invoke their God. Well, you know the story and know where that got them. But I often think that this is the ideology that we have when it comes to worship. We attach serious meaning to a specific song or leader and can get to the point to where we can't worship unless the needed items are their.
Long-tail blogging is a hot topic in some circles. It talks about blog posts retaining long term hits, like for years. I think it is good to apply that idea to worship. What counts is the life with God, the long term. I know plenty of people that will have a good experience with the service, but walk out and act like it didn't happen. This saddens me, but we can't concentrate and expend all of our energy on snagging people in (read Willow Creeks 'Reveal' for their thoughts on this) I have to realize one of my roles is not to create converts in worship, but to nurture the saints.
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