The ABC's of Creative Worship Planning
1) Allocation: The creative muse is needy and brattish and fickle, but we can cooperate. We can set ourselves up for maximum creativity. If you've got these three resources in place, you are well on your way to creative worship planning.
Priority: Remember that you are preparing for the gathering of the Body of Christ, in His name, and for His glory. This worship service is the most important meeting you will prepare for--and planning it requires top energy and focus.
Forethought: If possible, know ahead of time what the general theme of the service will be. You'll be surprised at the ideas that bubble to the surface before the actual planning meeting even begins.
Time: Be sure to set aside time at a peak creative moment, providing enough time to avoid feeling rushed through the process. Be awake. Be unhurried. This is very easy to accomplish, but also very easy to let slip away.
2) Boxation: Ok. Maybe it's not a word, but it fits my goal of having rhyming ABCs for this article, so I'm going to get creative and use it. Plus, this perfectly illustrates my point.
We've all heard "think outside the box," but others (like Disney) say "think inside the box." Define the goal--the "win"--and go for it. Work towards this goal and within such parameters as it requires. Maybe "boxation" is better described as aiming for a target. When we know what we're aiming for, we are more comfortable with creative methods of hitting this target. We permit crazy ideas because we know that, while unconventional, they are very much "in the box."
At my church, we've spent the greater part of the past 12 months increasing participation during our worship services. Our "box" was to foster participation through Biblical, vibrant, and varied worship expressions for people of different personalities and backgrounds.
For example, a few weeks ago we emphasized confession during our service. We offered a number of ways our worshippers could confess after the sermon, including encouraging them to talk to the person next to them. Also, we placed microphones near our communion stations and invited everyone receiving communion to recite "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner." This rhythmic prayer, voice by voice, was a powerful moment of participation. It was different, and it took some serious rearranging of our worship space, but it was worth it.
3) Collaboration: Two heads are better than one, right?
Most creatives like to work alone. But our best ideas come with two or more brains forming them. When it comes to creativity, team work really does work. It draws in ideas from a number of personalities and experiences. It alleviates the pressure of one person carrying the creative load. And when the ideas dry up, and they will, someone else is there who's caffeinated enough to move the creative process along.
Warning: Be on the lookout for team-fatigue. When the whole group gets tired and in a rut, it's time to bring in new team members. Get a fresh batch of creatives in there with you. Sometimes it only takes one new team member. They come with enthusiasm. And with new eyes. And with new ideas. And suddenly the creative process is rolling.
We have a saying at my church, and we've said it so often that our congregation laughs when they hear it: "This Sunday, we're going to do something a little different." Attendees know that each Sunday has its own tone. They know that no two Sundays are alike. And they know that these experiences have been carefully crafted to bring them closer to God. They expect it.
And even though our planning takes significant energy and time, the payoff is worth it.
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