07 Aug Planning the Worship at Open Door Church by Brian Asbury
Every Sunday, in nearly every church around the world, you will find that most services contain preaching, praying and singing. These may come in differing styles and in various order but most church services contain at least those three elements. With being the Worship Pastor, I have the incredible privilege of planning the worship services from week to week at Open Door Church. I plan the songs, volunteers, transitions and other various elements for each service. In this blog, I want to take you guys through the process of my service planning which will allow each of you to see how and why I plan the songs and elements that make up each service.
For me, every Thursday is planning day. I set an allotted time aside each Thursday to pray, plan and organize a worship service. I am always a month ahead in my planning. This allows for time to schedule volunteers, giving them time to calendar out the Sundays that they will serve and early Sunday preparation also allows for flexibility in the service flow in case a change is needed. I have four steps that I follow to shape each worship service.
When creating a worship service, I always start with prayer. This may sound cliché or expected but it is consistently where I begin the planning process. Praying aids me in understanding my position in all the preparation – a servant of Christ. The worship service is never about me, it is always about lifting up the Name of Jesus. As John 3:30 says, “He must become greater, I must become less.” That is the purpose of each Sunday morning service. It is never about me picking my favorite songs or choosing songs or elements that make me look good. It is always about giving God all the glory. Furthermore, praying helps me submit to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. When I shape a service, I want to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit entirely and praying is what focuses my heart and mind on His leadership. I only want to plan what the Spirit desires.
Search for Scripture
Each week, I search through the Bible to find a passage of Scripture to base the entire worship set around. Whatever passage of Scripture God lays upon my heart will then be the centerpiece of the entire worship experience. Finding Scripture is deliberately step number two. I do not choose worship songs and then search the Bible to find a verse that compliments the songs previously chosen. Instead, I purposefully do the reverse. I search for a passage that I believe God has laid upon my heart and then I find songs which complement those verses. I firmly believe that there is no worship song that is as inspiring or powerful as the Word of God. Because of that, I find a Bible verse that declares a truth about our Father and then find worship songs that proclaims a similar truth. Searching Scripture is a vital part in the worship planning process.
Plan the Songs
After I have found the Bible passage that will be used in the worship service, I plan which songs to sing. These songs must be parallel to the truth found in the Bible verses. Finding the theme of the passage of Scripture often makes this process less complicated. The death and resurrection of Jesus is a simple example. If the passage is focused on this topic, like Philippians 2, Romans 8 or 2 Corinthians 15, then I will select songs that focus on the same truth. This Is Amazing Grace, Alive, Resurrecting, What A Beautiful Name and Forever are just a few examples of songs that speak to the death and resurrection of our Savior.
Shape all Transitions
Lastly, I shape all the transitions. A transition is simply the space between songs or various elements within the service. Transitions are meant to be invisible or said differently, seamless. If there is an unwanted moment of silence between songs, that is usually an unsuccessful transition. Transitions are often overlooked and if they are not intentionally planned beforehand, it could create unwanted moments within a worship service. Having seamless transitions removes the uncomfortable instances. There are various types of transitions – spoken transitions, instrumental transitions, Scripture reading, prayer and the list continues.
These four steps are a part of my weekly planning for each worship service. The worship at Open Door is always God centered, Scripture based and Spirit led. Nearly every church has a time of singing woven into every service and these few practical steps are just an inside look at how and why we sing the songs we sing here at Open Door.