Friday, April 29, 2016

Your entire worship service is your message

Some pastors believe that everything that happens prior to the sermon is merely an introduction to the main performance. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is, our messages are conveyed through the entire worship service. If the service is well planned it will point to the One whose truths you will be communicating in your message. This is why it is so important that the pastor and the worship planning team work together in developing the service each week.

When I was a pastor I tried to give our worship leaders the title, text, and theme for my messages at least a month in advance. This allowed them to develop a worship service that would complement the message and bring the whole service together in a meaningful way.

The one thing I wish I had done differently was to incorporate more elements into the service even if it meant that there would be some Sundays there would be no sermon.

Our music was fairly basic. I often joke that we could have never built a ministry around our music, but what we did was done well. Music is the most important ingredient in a good worship service. It influences who your church will reach. Rick Warren correctly states that when you determine your music style you will also have determined who your church will and will not reach. It also prepares the soul for the message.

I visit too many small churches whose music ministry seems to have been an afterthought. The musicians have limited talent, the singing is anemic and uninspired, and there seems to be no flow to the service. Some churches have told me they are using the best talent they have. I would suggest they begin asking God to send them some talent. Believe me, I have extremely limited musical ability, and when I can tell that about every fourth note is off, it's off! It's an unnecessary distraction to the service and a stumbling block to attracting new people.

Multimedia wasn't available during my pastorate. The closest we came was overhead projectors which we did use occasionally. If I was pastoring today I would certainly use multimedia. We are a visual society. Talking heads do not communicate well to everyone. Add media to the sermon and it will have a greater impact. The cost of video projectors and laptops is now low enough to be affordable for any size church.

I would give one warning. Use multimedia wisely. You may not want to use it every Sunday. Have lots of white space on your slides. Media can also include objects, noises, etc. so mix it up to make your message stand out even more.

Several years ago I began to tell more stories in my messages rather than giving three-point sermons. I find that stories connect with people and make messages more memorable. The parables Jesus told were stories. If he found them helpful to get his point across we probably will as well.

Depending on the available talent in your church you can also use drama, puppets, liturgies, and other means to get the message across. Be creative. Remember that the purpose of worship is to allow people to experience God in a way that is meaningful and life-changing.

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