As a worship leader, I often find myself spending a lot of time thinking about songs for the church gathering. I ask myself; “How should we respond this week to the word?”, “What song speaks to where our culture is?”, “Will my guitarist be able to land this part?”, “How long can this instrumental be before people start dozing off?”, “Why is finding bass players like trying to find a needle in a hay stack!?” I spend a LOT of time thinking about what our gatherings look like, but what about Monday mornings? What about the places our people spend the majority of their lives? Can what we do in our gatherings influence our people in those places?
Let’s break this down for a second. I’m going to be generous and assume your church has a massive 45 minutes for other parts of the liturgy other than the sermon. There are 10,080 minutes in a week. 10,000 minutes people – that is ’10,000 reasons’ to bless the Lord each week right there!! OK so if my math is correct – 45 minutes works out to less than 0.5% of a week spent in corporate worship on a Sunday. That’s a really small number. If you are anything like me, sometimes it feels like I spend half my week thinking about those precious few moments.
Now before you get upset, quit your jobs and think I’m downplaying the importance of the worship gathering, I’m not. I love when the church comes together to sing, it is such a vital part of our faith, and those moments to me truly are precious! What I am advocating is spending just a few more moments each week thinking about the other 99.5% of the average person’s week. That 99.5% is a vital part of what it means to be a worship pastor.
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds, and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”
That’s what we are called to do as pastors. How does what we do in our gatherings envision, encourage and equip our people to live lives surrendered to King Jesus? How do we help them engage with the mission of God to a broken and hurting world? If I’m being honest, that’s a terrifying question.
I don’t by any means have this worked out but here are some practical things I think about when I’m planning a weekend gathering with a heart to impact the rest of the week:
- Connect what we do corporately as an overflow of what the Lord is doing in our lives individually. God is at work in the lives of our people. If we don’t connect the gathering to the rest of our lives, then at best they are informative and encouraging, & at worst they are entertaining and have no bearing on the rest of the week.
- Be intentional with your welcome, call to worship, and benediction. These moments are prime opportunities to be real, honest and to make the connection between Sunday morning and the rest of our weeks. Intentionality with language in these parts of the liturgy will help create a healthy understanding of the church gathered and the church scattered and why we even gather in the first place.
- Incorporate different elements in your liturgy that help equip your people for the rest of the week. How can our gathering help nurture our people’s hunger for intimacy with God in the rest of the week?
- Lead them in simple, understandable, repeatable corporate prayers of thanksgiving, confession, repentance & petition.
- Celebrate God stories, have people share testimonies, model what it looks like to tell the stories of God’s faithfulness.
- Read scripture aloud together.
- Don’t be shy about offering; it too is an overflow and demonstration of thankfulness and obedience in the hearts of God’s people.
Have moments of prayer time where people huddle up and pray together for missions/other churches in your area/each other (its crazy we don’t do this more)
- Model these elements in such a way so that they are repeatable and transferable into people’s lives. I’m not saying dumb it down – what I mean is to make sure your communication is succinct and clear. Could a father in your congregation sit down at a diner table and practice it with his family?
- Practice different elements of liturgy in your community/life group/house church. See what works in a smaller gathering space and think how that might be scalable to the whole.
- Bring a higher level of intentionality to the language you use. See the gathering and the elements as an opportunity to train, equip and envision people for the rest of their week spent on mission in the places they live, work and play.
- Write songs that speak to Monday morning. Having just recorded a new worship CD, I’ve been thinking much more about songs that people can sing when they wake up – songs they can use as prayers for the city they live in – songs that place higher value on the ordinary and the everyday. We need more songs for the ‘ordinary’ moments of life. Too often I spend all my time writing for the 0.5% and not the 99.5%! We also need to remind our people that ordinary moments are just as holy and are as much an opportunity to respond in worship and obedience to the Lord as our Sunday services are.
The truth is, those ordinary moments of life are the places the Lord wants to meet our us. The ordinary moments of life lived in a posture of gratitude, obedience and prayer are nothing short of miraculous. Yes, there are times in Scripture we see the Lord shows up in the temple and there is fire, smoke and earthquakes (I for one love these moments). But more often God shows up to people when they are sleeping, traveling along a road, collecting water from a well and herding sheep on the side of a mountain.
We must as worship pastors helping our people see and be awake to the presence of God at their workplace, in their homes & in the normal day to day.
Originally from Ireland, Andy Graham currently serves as the Worship Pastor at Summit Church in Fort Myers, FL, and is part of the 10,000 Fathers Worship School team. Andy & his wife, Rachel recently released their debut worship CD, AWAKE.