If Leading Worship Was Simple…

plan worship

By Rob Rash

If only leading worship we’re as simple as singing a handful of songs each week, I wouldn’t be writing this post.
If leading worship was simply a way to warm up the hearts of the church to receive the sermon, I wouldn’t be writing this post.
If worship didn’t matter… I would not be writing this post.

But worship does matter… greatly!

There have been times that I seriously wrestled with whether or not I should be leading worship at all. Not because I didn’t love doing it, but because I questioned it’s validity as a full time pastoral position.

However, as I have prayed over and poured over the scriptures, it became abundantly clear that worship matters greatly to God and to his people (the church). From Genesis to Chronicles to the Psalms to the Gospels to Paul’s letter’s and to John’s Revelation, worship has prominent role in the life of a believer.

It should come as no surprise then, that we should be prayerful and intentional when crafting and planning our worship services. I call this process ‘Worship Architecture.’ And you are the architect.

The last thing we want to do is haphazardly throw a set or service together, doesn’t God and his church deserve better?

Maybe you’re not use to planning and organizing your services, songs, transitions, and creative elements. Perhaps you consider it a win if you make it through a service and still have your voice? If you struggle at all, with crafting, planning, and organizing your worship services, I’d like to suggest 6 very practical ways to help.

1. Communicate With Your Pastor – I cannot stress this enough. Nothing says unity and teamwork like an aligned vision. Can you imagine the possibilities if you we’re able to know what verses your pastor was preaching from? Or what the overall main point he was trying to drive home? Work hard at communicating with your pastor about the direction for each weekend service. Also, allow your pastor to give you suggestions or ideas with the understanding that you may or may not use them. Don’t neglect your relationship with your pastor, a little goes a long way.

2. Communicate With Your Team – Keep your worship team in the loop with vision and direction for each series and weekend worship services. Take time to explain the song choices, the lyrics, the weekend theme that you are trying to teach your church. Share with your team the importance of leading worship and how it communicates the truths of scripture. Keep them in the loop as much as possible.

3. Worship Planning Software – I cannot begin to tell you how helpful worship planning software is to the ministry I lead. It’s basically my brain. There are a few options to choose from but my personal favorite is Planning Center Online. PCO combines many great features that really allow worship architects to plan, organize and craft meaningful services. You can schedule musicians, vocalists, sound and lighting techs as well as email your entire team. You can also organize your catalog of songs, know when the last time was you used a song, and easily add songs via SongSelect (CCLi) with chord charts. This is by far one of the best tools for strategically planning series and services.

4. Eliminate Distractions – One of the main responsibilities for worship leaders, is to minimize, if not eliminate any and all distractions in worship. Our job is to create an environment where people can see Jesus clearly and respond to him. When the words to our songs are lagging behind, this is a distraction. When the sound tech forgets to mute the band as they’re exiting the stage and a guitar string is accidentally hit causing a loud and strange noise, this is a distraction. The list is really endless, so we must do our best at teaching and training our teams about worship order, service flow and how to eliminate any and all distractions.

5. Work Hard at Transitions – Transitions, between songs and service elements, play a large role in eliminating awkwardness and creating a good service flow. On the other hand, bad transitions (or no transitions) can create a choppy, jumpy service that will be remembered for all of the wrong reasons. As you plan and think through each element of your service, be intentional in how you will transition from one to another. Can you smoothly move from one song to another seamlessly? Does your associate know when he should be on stage for the welcome? If you can plan and prepare your team for each transition, you’ll see a much smoother service flow which is always a good thing.

6. Plan Everything Out – This should go without saying but I cannot reiterate this enough. Just as you start planning out each service element and the appropriate transitions, be very careful to plan out every word you will be saying. This means, when you want to teach your church about a particular bible verse that will lead them into worship, don’t shoot from the hip. Write out what you want to say, read it out loud, and make sure that you are clear. Of course, we must always be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading, but let’s just make sure we are doing our part first and remember that He is with us while we plan.

This may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but let me just say that these are suggestions. Take them for what they’re worth but I have found them tremendously helpful in my organizing and planning of the worship services I lead. Don’t be afraid to start with one of the above suggestions and experiment a little. Don’t bite off more than you can chew but as you slowly start chiseling away at your leadership and worship leading, I hope you’ll find these principles helpful.

Again, being prayerful and intentional goes a long way! Grace and peace to you my friends!

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