Yesterday I was privileged to preach at Madison FBC, a church in my hometown. The two services were both very good although I can't take credit for that. I was there to preach. The worship planners for each service are the ones who arranged the service and gave it a good flow. They did an excellent job. Still, I've taken time to reflect on the service and my message and see what I learn for future worship services.
Monday is a good day to review what took place the day before in our worship services. Many pastors take Mondays off claiming that they are tired and feeling run down after the pressures of leading worship. I never wanted Mondays off. If I'm feeling bad, why take a day off? I'd rather take off a day when I'm feeling good! However, that doesn't mean that I wanted a full day of ministry activities such as counseling sessions, committee or board meetings, or strategic planning. I preferred a day with more simple tasks and reflecting on the worship service from the previous day is a good example of that.
I'm sure many people told you on their way out the door how much they enjoyed your sermon, but how do you think it went? Was there a flow to the message? Do you feel you accomplished your goals with the message? Did people seem engaged? Could you have used more study before presenting it? What did your spouse say about it on the way home? Did you say some things in your message you now wish you had not said? Could it have been better presented another way? How did people respond?
What about the rest of the service? Was there a good flow to the entire service or did it seem to jerk from one thing to another? Did the service have energy? Were the worship leaders prepared? How well did the congregation engage in worship? What changes might need to be made to the worship service?
Especially in smaller churches, the worship service is the one time when a pastor is able to connect with a large number of the congregation. It's important that these opportunities are not squandered. I've preached in some small churches when the pastor and song leader got together five minutes before the service to decide on the hymns. That showed me how much they valued the service that was about to begin.
Worship should be planned at least a few weeks in advance so the musicians and other worship leaders can be prepared and to ensure a good flow throughout the service. That does not mean that everything is so rigid there is no room for the Holy Spirit to work. At times he does take over a worship service and it becomes something very special, but he also can work in our planning for the service as well.
However, planning is not enough. There must also be a time of reflection, a time to ask the above questions to see if we accomplished what we intended to do in our worship service. If we do that on Monday we'll have time to make needed changes before next Sunday.