- There is no plan set in scripture about what the outline of the a worship service should be.
- There are instructions that tell us that everything should glorify God and edify the people.
- There are scriptures that tell us to use psalms, hymns and spiritual songs but even the definitions of these terms can be argued.
- There are examples of corporate worship that have been passed down through the centuries.
- There are definite turning points and opinion separations throughout history as denominations were formed.
So what guide lines should worship leaders use when trying to determine what goes into a service of worship?
Maybe the best way to start planning a service is by developing a list of questions that should be answered.
- are we aware of and emphasiazing Christ's finished work each time we sing
- are God's character and works clearly proclaimed in our songs
- are the lyrics we sing biblically faithful and doctrinally sound
- are we worshiping a triune God in song, seeking to glorify the Father by honoring teh Son in the power of the Spirit
- are we falling into a musical or thematic rut
- are we doing any songs too frequently or too rarely
- do we have a healthy blend of deep and simpler songs? (simple songs are like dessert; trying to live on them can result in malnutrition
- are there any songs we used to sing that we should start doing again?
For years I have used the following questions to guide my planning.
Is everything based on Scripture?
Do the elements chosen communicate and reflect the characteristics of God and the full story of salvation through Christ…the ‘Gospel?'
Do the elements of the service help people recognize God's presence and therefore connect people with God?
Is there something familiar to a large group of the congregation in the worship plan? — Familiarity would be different for different age groups and church backgrounds or absence of a church background.
Does everything we do encourage people to participate? — Worship is a verb, something to participate in and not to watch.
Do the elements of the service enhance or compromise the message? — If there is any indication that an element gets in the way of the content then it should not be used.
Throughout the worship service, is time and opportunity given for people to…– voice praise? – voice thanksgiving? – hear God's Word? – respond to what they hear? – pray to God in a personal and corporate way?
Do we have a balance of ‘revelation’ and ‘response?’ (Revelation = who God is and what He has done. Response = our communication back to what has been revealed.)
Planning worship services should be given serious thought, there is nothing greater that the church does than worship God. My planning process starts with some serious questions.
Would you add other questions to the list?