The Gospel Drives Worship, Not the Songs

Just because the song was done one way on the recording does not mean it should be done that way in our services. Just because the song has two different choruses doesn't mean we should use both of them.

The goal of any worship service is to make God's Story known and give us the opportunity to respond. The planning of a worship service should start with the goal, the purpose of the service, not with the songs. After planning and leading worship services for the last 31 years I am convinced and convicted that I must start with the Gospel and then plan the service by telling the Gospel. (The Gospel is not just the simple invitation of to be a part of what family, but the unique and awe inspiring way God reveals Himself and His invitation to us through the story passed down through His Word.)

In our service this week we took pieces of songs, whole songs and scriptures to tell God's story. Here is what that planned looked like...

Opening Song: Indescribable: (the whole song in the key of D)

Service introduction: the worship leader let the congregation know that they were invited to sing and worship but they were encouraged to read aloud all the scriptures that would appear on the projections screens.

Scripture: Psalm 65:1-2 (keyboard gave simple underscore during the reading of this scripture.)

Song: Indescribable (as a response to the scripture the vocals with only string pad lead the chorus of this song. Slower and more reflective than earlier.)

Song: Everlasting God (same keyboard string pad accompaniment and sung in the Key of D. This is low of this song but it worked well.)

Scripture: Psalm 57:1-2,7,9 (band started intro to Everlasting God in key of G while congregation read this scripture.)

Song: Everlasting God (the whole song in G)

Prayer: during the service the worship leader was impressed that he should stop and have prayer. The prayer included: recognition of God's presence, repentance for our failures and for the needs of the congregation. Using the words of the song to encourage the people to cast their cares on God and find comfort. The set up to the prayer let the congregation know we would sing the song again as a time of assurance that God listens to our prayers and gives us strength.)

Song: Everlasting God (verse and chorus)

Scripture: Psalm 16:5, 8-9

Song: Be Thou My Vision (verses: Be Thou my vision; Be Thou my wisdom and Riches I heed not.) (start with solo and acoustic guitar in the key of D.)

Scripture: Psalm 57:9-11 (piano and keys continues playing Be Thou My Vision under the scripture.)

Song: Everlasting God (chorus with string pad, in Key of D)

Scripture: 1 Timothy 2:1-6 (here we moved from who God is to what God did for us through His Son.)

Song: At the Cross (the whole song)

Scripture: John 3:16

Song: How He Loves (this is a favorite of our students, however it is not the easiest to sing. The text work well here so we used the down chorus and first verse only.)

Prayer: (After singing two songs about how God loves us we need a time to tell God how much we love Him. The worship leader prompted the congregation to do just that without anyone praying out loud from the stage.)

Song: How He Loves (here the worship leader changed the words of the chorus from How He Loves to How We Love You.)

The object of this outline was based on our worship core value of re-telling God's Story for us. We used the songs and pieces of songs along with scripture to accomplish this goal. The song writers might not like how we used their songs but it is not about the song it is about the Gospel.