A couple years ago our church spent a series of Wednesday evening’s learning about different worship styles. We all took a test to learn our worship style (think personality test and you will have the basic concept) and discovered the variety of style s that existed in the congregation. It helped us understand better the conflicts we sometimes have about music styles and other worship content. I am certainly not an expert in this and have actually forgotten the names of the different styles, but what I learned is if we plan a worship that contains the same elements each Sunday -- some in the congregation are left out.
Now we all know we cannot be all things to all people – and the real purpose of the study was sort of a slap upside the head-- get the focus off of us as individuals and OUR worship needs – and to realize again what worship is really about –God.
Worship planning for our services involves at least three people – the person delivering the sermon, the music planner and the primary worship planner that is responsible to pull it all together. At least one of these individuals is different each week. The benefit of pulling in a variety of different members into the worship planning is seldom are any two Sunday services exactly alike. Music styles vary, scripture is presented in a variety of ways. The downside is coordinating this type of planning can be a nightmare – it has survived a couple years now – but we may be modifying it a little just so some of us to not go completely insane. Other upsides are we involve a lot of different people in the service and as a result those various worship styles get hit at least once a month. We also have a basic framework for the service (not a requirement to follow it) we work from that helps guide planners into covering the different worship styles. It is not as complicated as I am making it sound. And not having a set pattern does allow for God to work a little more creatively in the planning process.
I am not sure how much time is spent individually planning – but the service comes together pretty quickly. Usually a Monday afternoon meeting with the 3 key people, email communication, Thursday afternoon deadline for everything in the bulletin (or program) and Sunday pre-service final last minute coordination and group prayer to God for helping pull the whole thing together.
Something I picked up in some of the other posts is the necessity to be on time. If you are a multiple service congregation, that is very important. We only have one service. We target one hour – but we have gone as long as 1 ˝ hours (my brother in law lets me know when it goes that long), it depends on who is planning, what they planned and what happens in the service. But – even with this flexibility – there is an expectation by the congregation that we not go over 1 hour and 15 minutes. There seems to be too much focus on not going “too long”. But our ‘time for worship’ is a whole other issue…
When you over plan your worship time, it's very similar to preparing too much food for the picnic - some of it gets wasted, and everybody tends to eat too much. Much better to leave them wanting a little more, than to stuff them so full they fight to get away from the table, eh?
Love ONE woman...MANY guitars!
One other thing to consider is what "going over" in service times does to your nursery and sunday school people if they meet during service times. You put a lot of pressure on these people when you run long. (taking care of babies an extra 15 minute seems like an hour - I know I do nursey once a month), If you want to keep your nursery people happy, and hence doing nursery, you need to stay on time. Same for your people taking care of the sunday school aged kids. It's not just for those in the service.
Everybody keeps saying "overplan." Please define.
Is a liturgy over planned?
I think what people mean, is that so much of service time can be designated (down to the minute) that there is little available time to change something if you feel led by God to do so. By applying such a ridgid structure to our services we can schedule God out of the equation sometimes. I do not believe that litutgies automatically do that, but rather that we can get wrapped up in what comes next instead of what God is doing at the time. Make sense?
Great point Tom, I think your last sentence nailed it.
Love ONE woman...MANY guitars!
I really believe in the idea of planning with wide boundaries. In other words, provide structure, but within that structure make room for spontaneity and improvisation.
For instance, I will plan a setlist, but train my worship teams on signals so that I can communicate possible improvisations to them.
When organizing a practice, I will have an idea of how the music might go, but I always leave room for the whole team to contribute new and fresh ideas.
nice. I like that thought process.
I didn't mean to be inaccurate, but I wasn't trying to be precise.
I think it depends on where you are at as a team as well. If you have multiple team members rotating in and out you almost have to plan tightly for communication sake. Spontaneity requires a team that knows each other well enough to know signals, whom to take the signals from, and can anticipate a bit. That actually requires a great deal of practice and knowledge of what you are doing and your team members cues and tendencies. Spontaneity actually takes preparation which makes it a bit of an oxymoron when it comes to worship. Train wrecks happen when everyone is not prepared. (Sometimes you are blessed and it works out but you often take your chances.) Distraction then ensues.
Example: I have been occasionally commissioned to sing with a very good team when most of their vocalists are on vacation or are unavailable. We were doing a song and the leader pointed to me. It dawned on me that he wanted me to take the lead on the next verse but I was so surprised (because we didn't practice it this way and it took me a minute to understand what he wanted) that I ended up singing the wrong verse. Not a huge deal but it can get pretty hairy if you don't know what is being asked of you while you are on the spot.
So, if you have a regular team or your team members are so practiced and rehearsed that taking a different direction is easy, then you can plan looser but if not, it does help to have things fairly well outlined. Of course we should all have good attitudes and be flexible when necessary but you want to balance that with not frustrating people by not keeping them in the loop.
The culture of my current team is that they like to know what they are doing. They all want a service order and want to pretty much know what the road map of a song is. We are getting better at being more flexible but I have to plan to the minute as to make people feel like they know what is going on. As we practice more as a team (we are also transitioning with leadership and leadership style as well) it will be easier to play follow the leader and be comfortable with that.