The Flow of A Worship Service
Worship Leader ‐ Mark Condon
Founder of the iClub
Preparing for a successful worship experience is much more than just a production or a combination of fast, medium and slow songs. After years of working in churches and conducting choir/worship seminars around the world I have discovered a tremendous need in this area in churches of all sizes. To pull off a successful worship service requires many elements. We will try and discuss some of them. This really is a broad discussion of which I am not sure I can adequately cover in this one article but I hope I can at least give some kind of guidance.
A successful worship experience is paramount for a healthy and growing church. People must be more than “WOWED” by talent, lights and production when they enter into our churches. We must create an atmosphere where there can be a connection from our heart to the heart of our Creator! That special moment of awe where it seems like all of heaven stands still and in return we are overwhelmed by that peace that passes all understanding.
Although I do strongly believe in excellence and have no problem with technology to enhance our services, I do not embrace the belief that talent, sound and technology are the most important ingredients for a successful worship service. I would quickly and with clarity say that relationship is first and foremost. We worship what we really love! Passion and energy are contagious and so is the lack of these elements. If you have someone who is really passionate and believes in a cause there will always be people who will follow. If you are really passionately in love with something you pursue it with such obduracy.
When I am putting together a worship service I want there to be both praise and worship. Just for a quick simple clarification, praise is what we offer because of His goodness and what he does for us. Worship is what we offer because of who He is. He is sovereign and because He is God, exclamation point! It certainly is not based on how our day or week has gone.
Psalm 100:4 says …enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise… With that as a model, I like to open a service with something that is very praise oriented. Generally it will be upbeat and energetic. That first song will be something that speaks of His goodness or a declaration that I am here to sing His praise.
After a few minutes of praise I like to segue from a time of praise into a time of deep worship. Worship to me would be songs that are very vertical. At this point we are more about talking to God than about Him. Many churches really struggle with the transition part in a worship service. Stopping and starting abruptly will almost always hinder a smooth flow. Musically, we can help make the transition but the best transition is to encourage your praise team to worship directly out of the song through the intro of the next song. Do NOT hurry these transitional moments. Some of the most dynamic transitions are made from our reckless abandoned worship moments. When you enter these moments it sets up a time where ministry can happen.
So many churches just go from song to song with only seconds of real response. I ask our worship team to worship in the mics with extreme passion and enthusiasm. The word enthusiasm comes from the Greek word enthous – meaning possessed or inspired by God! Their passion and enthusiasm ignites the people’s passion. If the singers are inspired by God they will lead the way and the church will follow.
Again, this may take time to create this culture. Learn to build on the intensity and energy of a song and the response to a song. When the people respond, do not be afraid to encourage these special moments. Also, be aware that you do not continue to sing and sing until something happens. Repetition usually brings on frustration not to mention monotony. In these moments where it feels very tight I find it more productive to take a few minutes and have the church enter into corporate prayer until you feel something break. Without notice just begin to pray and intercede for your city, people, children, families and leaders until something begins to open up. Out of that prayer begin to go into your worship. Your church will soon catch your spirit and follow.
Your team must understand their role. Their role is more than to just sing on key and help with a great blend of parts. They need to understand that THEY are the leaders. It is very difficult if not impossible to fake a great relationship. So, it is important that everyone on your team is passionately in love with Christ! A church will always struggle to rise above its leaders. In order to lead someone anywhere you need to know how to get there yourself. No person enjoys following someone who is not sure where he/she is going. Confidence always leads to success!
Be cautious as to how many new songs you introduce. My suggestion is to introduce approximately two new songs per month. Too many over a short period of time can be hard on a church. However, I cannot over emphasize the importance of ongoing fresh music! You can often gauge the intensity of your church by the freshness of the songs you are using. Momentum comes from the new not the old. This is not a license to dismiss our classics that are tried and true. (This is another whole subject)
Themes can be a great way to travel through a worship service. It may be about the blood or about victory. I am also a proponent that a true worship experience is not created for the spectator but for personal involvement. I encourage our worshippers to at least start out by standing unless there are health issues. It is just easier to be involved when you are not relaxed in a chair or pew. We also encourage our people to feel free to come up around the front. This is not the time to sit and stare at a screen. Engaging and connecting is what a worship experience is all about! There is no substitute for an awesome worship experience and every church and guest that walks into our services deserves to experience this on a weekly basis. Help us “wrap worship around the world!”