Tuesday, December 4, 2007

25 Timely Worship Tips

by Steve Sjogren

1. Great worship songs are written in the first person and are directed to God.

2. An obstacle to worship can be singing one song too many—singing five songs when four songs would have been just right.

3. Another obstacle might be the worship team gathering in a huddle on the stage to pray before service. The huddle-prayer draws attention to the worship team, making them look like they want to appear extra-spiritual. It's cheerleading from the front instead of leading the group into God's presence.

4. When you choose songs for your worship, check them against this list. Are they catchy, memorable, simple enough to hear once and learn, enjoyable to sing, and do the songs express the heart of the church?

5. Consider writing your own songs, if you have talented musicians. Homegrown songs can inspire powerful worship.

6. From my experience it is easier to go with guitar-centered worship. The guitar is easy to follow in worship.

7. Another way to simplify is to keep the focus on the music. Talking between songs tends to get in the way of worship. Those who have come have come to sing to God, not to hear quips and admonitions from a worship leader who is trying to cheer the crowd forward. I also include prayer in this moratorium. If you choose to include a prayer, make it short and sweet.

8. I've found that the worship experience is usually more authentic if the worship leader plays an instrument.

9. I've discovered that people are capable of being engaged in worship for a maximum of twenty-two minutes. After twenty-two minutes, most worshipers' attention span drops significantly. (Don't worry, he said the same thing about preaching!)

10. People need a transition from the parking lot to the presence of God, from their week into God's throne room. Worship can provide that transition if they start by singing about God and transition to songs addressed to God.

11. Visitors who don't participate in worship will "feel you out" and make judgments about the quality and philosophy of your church within the first twenty minutes.

12. I've seen many things distract from worship, such as worship dance, worship flag waving (I almost had my eye poked out), worship jumping and worship calisthenics… As a rule of thumb, if something strikes you as being distracting, it probably is.

13. If you want to remove distractions, one simple rule of thumb is, to put it plainly: Don't do goofy things during worship.

14. Your church will be identified by your style of worship… Your sound is what people in your city associate with your church.

15. There are lots of great models of worship out there. To get your worship going, find one and copy it [but]… don't blindly copy someone else… Don't be afraid to be different, but be aware that people grow weary of too much experimentation. Your church will eventually find its own sound, style and focus. Find it and be that.

16. Do a quality job, but don't obsess. Nothing will kill the spirit of worship faster than an obsessive, perfectionist worship leader who is so detail-oriented that he or she can only see the mistakes being made and misses what God is doing in a service.

17. The goal of worship must be that everyone be aware of the manifest presence of God in their midst. There's a time to prepare diligently and there's a time to flow and enjoy the presence of God.

18. Be aware of the flow from one song to the next. Sing several songs in the same key before transitioning to another key (and choose songs in keys everyone can sing). The same rules holds true for tempo and pitch.

19. Keep things moving. Dead space between songs is not good. Transitions between upbeat songs and quiet songs can be difficult.

20. Grow your worship as your church grows numerically. What is forgivable in a church of one hundred people might stand out as a glaring mistake when you have three hundred.

21. Have musicians play within their skill levels. If your musicians are proficient in only three chords, then stay within that realm. Be aware that the more instruments you add, the more skill the leader and others will need.

22. Choose musicians carefully. Avoid husband and wife combinations in the band; if you have difficulties with one, you've lost the other as well.

23. Be aware of your musician pool. When a musician starts attending your church, pay attention to that person. You will have to draw on your pool from time to time.

24. Homegrown worship leaders (and band) are usually the best leaders.

25. Start small. Having worship led by one decent guitarist with a decent voice is better than trying to create a slick, pop-band appearance. Authenticity is far better than slick professionalism.

Adapted from The Perfectly Imperfect Church: Redefining the 'Ideal' Church by Steve Sjogren. (Group Publishing)

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