As the Church, we are called to worship God.
This is an individual and corporate (group) call.
One way we express our corporate calling as the Church to worship God is through our church services. The church service is the basic architecture of how church leaders serve the church members each week.
While some churches receive a template from their diocese or presbytery, or still others have been using the same plan for 20 years, the value of revisiting and revising how you practice your worship service to cultivate a better member and visitor experience will have a high payoff for your church.
Here, we are going to share five ideas that you can use to improve the quality of your worship plan, even if you are limited by the designation of your denomination or synod.
1. Embrace event production
The key to pulling off a successful church service plan is to embrace the church service for what it is—an event. And once you embrace the church service as an event, you embrace that you are in the event industry. Because of this, you must treat your worship service as an event, and you are the event director.
There is an entire wealth of knowledge available to you in the church event production industry. Dive into its literature, skill sets, and tips and tricks so that you can begin to work with a creative template for the energy you will pour into making your church better.
2. Prioritize experiences
Key to the event industry is the knowledge that the user experience is everything. If they are to become a repeat attendee, they must like something about your church enough to return. Your church service plan should aim to make that choice as easy as possible. Make it easy as possible for first-time guests to keep coming back.
3. Engage the senses
We acquire experiences through sense. Even our thinking is mediated by sense. Our nervous system keeps us conscious—and so, being awake is just feeling what it’s like to be alive. But we can dull our sensitivity to reality in situations that don’t signal any immediate change. Our bodies switch into rest-and-digest mode. We get a bit sleepy. We wake up after 15 minutes of daydreaming and frantically flip through the church bulletin to find out where we are.
As a church leader, there are a few ways to help prevent that. The primary method the church has historically used, not merely as a way of staying awake, but of immersing oneself symbolically in the glory of creation, is that the church leaders would engage the physical senses.
Touch in the washing of feet.
Taste in the bread and the wine.
Sight in the images of the cross.
Smell in the sweet incense of the thurible.
Hearing in the proclamation of the word of God.
Plan to engage as many senses as possible in your church worship service strategy.
4. Enable active participation
Liturgy is a very grounding way to actively engage the senses, while at the same time enabling participants to receive guidance as they activate their bodies through a spiritual experience. It sounds very hokey pokey, but that’s what liturgy is—a collective, embodied that continues the tradition of the church as it was handed down by the Apostles who received it from Christ.
The more you can give congregants an opportunity to actively engage in this, the more you will see a sense of connection in their eyes throughout the service. Many pastors have found this to be true, especially during COVID, while looking more closely at the hundreds of faces on the Zoom call or church live-stream.
5. Informal > Formal > Informal
You are the host of the event from the moment someone decides to attend your church service to the moment they pull out of the church parking lot.
In structure, your plan should move from informal to formal to informal.
This means hosting participants through the informal pre-service event elements, the service itself, and the post-service informal segue into the event’s end. When you plan for user experience, it is natural to plan for the entire user experience, which is what you achieve when you are courteous enough to care for them the entire journey with your church which will by God’s grace last many years.
Over to you
Leverage these tools in order to cultivate a culture of attentiveness, joy, and engagement as you create a back-and-forth between the worship service leaders and the attendees in your worship set.
When you take user experience into account, you will find attendees notice you’ve noticed and considered them, and respond with gratitude and buy-in that they previously might not have had.
- Embrace event production
- Prioritize user experience
- Engage the senses
- Enable active participation
- Informal > Formal > Informal