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Worship Planning As A Team

By Barry Westman on September 20, 2010

A worship leader has many tasks that need to be done each week, including preparing the music, rehearsing the team, setting up the stage, and the list goes on. However, the weekly worship experience probably starts, in one way or another, the same for each of us – worship planning.  Wouldn’t it be nice if these services planned themselves?  Well, we all know it doesn’t work that way, even though there may be some in the church who may disagree! Countless hours of planning, seeking the Lord’s direction in prayer, tweaking and preparation take place before Sunday morning.

Who is all involved in this worship planning process? Is it just the worship leader, the worship leader and pastor, or a team of people? Well, I’m sure in our various churches all of these combinations are taking place. Over the years in my role as a worship leader, my worship planning experience has taken on all of these forms, as well as some others.  Is there a right way to do it? No, I don’t believe there is. We all have different personalities, resources, leadership styles, people and time available. What works for one may not work at all for another.

However, I can share a few of the benefits I’ve experienced working with a team of people to plan worship services and events.  First, I’m not sure about you, but when I do the same thing over and over again by myself, I tend to easily fall into a rut.  Sure, the songs may be different each week, but there’s a sense of “this is how we always do it” that starts to seep into the worship conversation.  When you work with a team, there’s less of a chance of that happening, just because there is a built-in system of checks and balances there with those who are involved. It is important, though, to make it an intentional goal of the team to keep the services fresh, so everyone is watching out for that danger.

There is also a noticeable synergy that takes place when you’re in a group of people who are all passionate about creating a worship experience that is both creative and honoring to God. Just by someone throwing out a little idea, which might get your mind going, you may come up with a great idea that you may have never thought of if you were planning alone. Brainstorming song ideas, multi-sensory ideas, visual ideas and other elements together can be an exciting time for all involved.

There are probably several of you reading this who are currently working with some kind of team as you plan services. If that’s the case, then please share your experience and ideas below in the comments of how you use a team. Let’s learn from each other! If you're not already doing this, you may be wondering how you can start to put a team like this together.

Start by asking a lot of questions… “What do I hope to accomplish by putting this team together?”, “Who should be on this team?”, “Will the senior pastor be part of this team?”, “How often will we meet?”, “What will we do in our meetings?” and the list goes on. I would suggest trying to find people who are passionate about different areas of the worship ministry. Find someone who loves to think of worship songs that go along with a theme, someone who knows every song out there on the radio for specials, someone who is really into video production, someone who has a good eye for visual aspects of the service. The danger is to get a lot of people just like you on the team, and while that may be comfortable, it may not yield results that are a lot different than how it is right now.

There are a lot of great resources out there to help you get started in this process, but one that I would recommend is a book called “Designing Worship: Creating and Integrating Powerful God Experiences” (Kim Miller, Group Publishing).  Kim is the Creative Director at Ginghamsburg Church in Tipp City, Ohio, and she has put together a great resource in this book/DVD set. She walks you through excellent ideas about putting together a worship design team, including how to find great team players, the role of the senior pastor on the team, and who should be involved on the team.

She goes beyond that to talking about the actual planning process, overcoming obstacles to designing worship, great ideas on multi-sensory worship, and even ideas for the message. The included DVD has a lot of neat features as well, including taking you through the planning process of a service all the way from the first meeting to Sunday morning, as well as several examples of creative ideas their team has planned.

This process does not come without its challenges; that is for sure! However, I believe it’s worth the effort, and can help to keep our worship services fresh and filled with the creativity of God!

Barry Westman

All About Worship

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Barry Westman

Barry Westman

Barry has served in worship ministry for 20 years, currently serving as Worship Pastor at Bethel Baptist Church in Janesville, Wisconsin. He was born and raised in Minnesota, husband to Tina, and father to three beautiful children - Chad, Emily and Olivia. He usually leads worship from the keyboard and loves to play board games!