Shaping Your Vision: Expand The Experience

A worship experience is the one time we get during the week to use everything at our disposal to share what God has put on our hearts. The limited time creates a need for true intentional planning and consideration.  How can we make our message stick in the short time we get?  Read on as we explore…

With all that we have at our disposal, we tend to use a very limited arsenal of tools, such as:

  • hymns/choruses: often ones we have done so many times, they have lost much of their effective lyrical heart-connection.  They often are just arbitrarily chosen out of familiarity or convenience, fitting the chosen key or being a crowd favorite.
  • prayer: a wonderful element, which we are biblically called to participate in.
  • Preaching: the teaching of God’s word verbally by a pastor or leader in the church.

These are the 3 things you find anywhere you go.  I make no argument against any of these elements.  I would consider each one 95% vital for any weekly worship experience, although the implementation of each can be argued.

Most churches do little to expand beyond this big three.  I argue that we have been blessed with an age in which nearly limitless creativity is possible in the area of worship communication.  Why on earth would we not seek to broaden our horizons in ways that can effectively communicate a message or felt need?  I believe the answer is comfort.  We don’t wanna take a risk.

But there is where the problem lies!  We are called to something more engaging and alive than that!  How can we expect to inspire lifestyle change if we ourselves are stuck in a creative rut?

End the cycle of predictability and try something fresh!  Here are some suggestions I have regarding creative communication in worship:

  • Utilize the opening few minutes to set the mood.  We try to keep our opening elements light, broad, and easily accessible to anyone who walks in our doors.  This could mean a game (yes, i said a game…. IN CHURCH!).  Other broad, engaging elements include: performance of a mainstream song folks might hear on the radio that topically sets up what is about to be discussed, a humorous video, a lighthearted welcome.
  • Utilize testimonies creatively.  There is nothing more powerful, with greater impact, than a first hand account of a life transformed!  NOTHING!  It is the real-life embodiment of the gospel.  I will elaborate more on this in a later post.  Just think about that.
  • Video is your friend.  Video, combined with ANY of these elements adds a heightened level of immersion.  Here’s a simple example: Videotape a testimony, edit in some background music, and play it as a lead in to your time of baptism.  The options are nearly endless.
  • Keep your Experience fresh and alive.  Predictability is comfortable to some… but we have been called to walk the narrow path.  We aren’t called to what’s easy and safe.  What easier way to convey Christian life as one that is comfortable and dull than keeping your church experience formulaic?
  • Sing a NEW song… it’s in the Bible!  Keep your song selection fresh.  Come up with a rotation and lay out what songs you plan to introduce weeks in advance.  Use them strategically.

Please note: I am aware that, for some reading this, having a game in a sacred time of worship may be a stretch, among some others noted above.  I only ask that you try to keep an open mind.  Your audience is the important factor there.  Our church targets those who have little or no church background, so fun at the top is a nice way to break the ice and encourage folks to let their guard down.

Let me wrap things up with a simple quote: My pastor always says “Excellence attracts excellence.”  I have found this to be the truth.  If folks see that you are willing to set the bar high, challenge yourself regularly, and strive to exceed expectations, they will be far more likely to serve, invite friends, and leave each week inspired to live out what was taught.  Each of those is a victory in my book and in our organization.

Challenge yourself on a regular basis.  That is how we expend the experience.

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