Things I’ve Seen and Heard — On Worship

Article
03.01.2010

What is said and done during a “Worship Service” is not to be taken lightly, nor is it to be given over to a popularity vote. Those of us who share the responsibility of leading a service fundamentally understand the time to be one of the people of God being led in the worship of God. This is not a time to simply sing our favorite hymns or praise songs, nor is it the time for the music minister to pull out all the stops and show off all his or her talents through multiple choirs, ensembles, and an orchestra.

Consider this:

  1. We believe the theme of the service should come from the message of the sermon. So if the message of the sermon is that we serve a redeeming God, then the songs, hymns, special music, reading of the Word, and various public prayers should support the message of God as Redeemer.
  2. The pastor or main teaching elder should consider issuing his sermon topics and texts several months in advance. This allows the congregation to prepare through study and prayer and come ready to appropriately engage the text/topic. (If you would like an example of this, look at this sample brochure outlining a three month preaching schedule.)
  3. Issuing sermon topics also allows those responsible for selecting music to coordinate with the theme of the message. Ideally, the pastor/preacher will be intimately involved in this process, making suggestions for congregational singing and special music.
  4. Consider drawing together all those participating in the worship service on a day prior to the service. For instance, if you have a mid-week gathering, bring the music leaders, those leading in prayer on Sunday morning, and the preacher together for a brief review of all that will take place on the following Sunday morning.  “Last minute changes” are resolved days in advance, and the Sunday morning bulletin reflects them.
  5. Consider a post-service review during the week. Ask hard questions like: Did the theme come across loud and clear? Was the reading of the Word done well or was the reader distracting? Was this song or that hymn appropriately sung–too fast or slow? Did the sermon contain the gospel? At my church the pastor gathers together thoughtful members of the church after the Sunday evening service and reviews the entire day with them. Every song, announcement, and prayer is considered. Notes are taken for future use and reminders. Likewise the sermon is carefully reviewed (not even the preacher is left out). The post-service review is a refining time both for the individuals involved as well as for the “feel” of the service. Many fine suggestions for improvement have come out of these times.
By:
Matt Schmucker

Matt Schmucker was the founding executive director of 9Marks. He now organizes several conferences, including Together for the Gospel and CROSS, while serving as member of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.