Worship Reflections 01.25.09

Set list
Everybody Praise the Lord (Lincoln Brewster)
Unashamed Love (Ten Shekel Shirt)
Mighty to Save (Hillsong)
Hallelujah (Hillsong)

Philippians 1:19-30, landing on the idea of ‘joy’ in all circumstances.   

More detail
Everybody Praise the Lord:  short, instrumental version
Ministry Highlight: Family Ministries 
Everybody Praise the Lord: full version with vocals. Fun, ‘bouncy’ song, catchy chorus.
Unashamed Love: Truly, I love this song A favorite of our congregation.
Mighty to Save: Despite the fact that it is a favorite for many churches and beautifully written, it seems like our congregation struggles to really connect through this song. But it’s got so much truth in it, I want to keep trying!
Hallelujah: an ‘add-on’ song that repeats 4 lines over and over. Can be shaped however you want.
Everybody Praise the Lord: (during offering) reprise of the full version with vocals.

I invited a friend of ours to play electric guitar with the band this week.  He used to be heavily involved in another area church, but just returned from touring so has not yet jumped back in with any particular church.  He’s a phenomenal player, so it was fun having him with us.  Also discovered that our male vocalist had sung ‘Everybody Praise’ quite a bit at his former gig as a worship leader, so we had strong, fun vocals going there.

The detail noted above was for our 11:00 service.  We followed the original plan for the 9:45 service, and it just didn’t seem to work well for the congregation.  That plan began with the full vocal version of ‘Everybody Praise’, followed by announcements & ministry highlight, then went into ‘Unashamed Love’.  ‘Everybody Praise’ has the potential of setting up a strong momentum, really engaging people in participating and singing.  It seemed like we established that momentum early in the 9:45, but never regained it after the ministry highlight. 

So we chose to move the full vocal version of ‘Everybody Praise’ to follow the verbal announcement section.  This seemed to work well, except for setting up a potentially awkward transition into the completely different mood of  ‘Unashamed Love’.  By keeping ‘Everybody Praise’ light… making comments to the congregation here and there through the song, it then seemed natural to invite them to turn and greet someone around them at the end of the song, which provided a chance to change the mood a bit. 

Many questions pop up…. do there have to be verbal ministry highlights? is there really such a thing as ‘worship momentum’? how can you really tell if people are engaged?  The first question leads to a larger conversation about a communication strategy.  The second and third lead to a conversation that is largely subjective.  I don’t know how to effectively answer except to say that when leading congregational worship, one does get a sense that people are engaged or not… that they are willing to move with you or not.   Our congregation is not highly demonstrative; that’s just who we are.  But even within a relatively small continuum of response, it is possible to discern when most of the people are focusing their attention on worshiping God, and when they are not.  It is not our job, as leaders, to make that happen.  But it IS our role to create opportunities that are conducive.

Things are never dull in worship experience design land.  :)  What are your thoughts?

This post is a part of Sunday Setlists at Fred McKinnon’s blog.
Go there to see what lots of other churches experienced this Sunday.


7 thoughts on “Worship Reflections 01.25.09

  1. Wow – Mighty to Save and Hosanna just keep popping up… 2 songs that I have been wanting to add since November! We are adding Mighty to Save next Sunday (I can’t wait!) but I’m not sure we can pull off Hosanna with our current line up – we have 1 lead guitar and 1 acoustic, no bass and a djembe… it’s such a powerful song though.

    As for your questions, I get where you are at. There are times that you can just feel the worship going up and times that, well, you can’t. I know that we can’t create that feel, but we must do our best to create that atmosphere! We had 2 services yesterday – our regular Sunday am and a worship/communion service last night. Both felt amazing this weekend – which was good – but it doesn’t always work out that way.

    Thanks for sharing your Sunday with the rest of us!

  2. kenyon… thanks for the comment. I’d be interested in hearing how you ‘changed things up’ a bit this week.

    DayVee… thank you, thank you for your thoughts as a 9:45er. :) I’m grateful that the worship service offered you a great opportunity to worship. Can I just say that you ‘get’ it more than the average person?

  3. As a 9:45er, it all worked for me. I didn’t see the highlight or the placement as any kind of distraction or something that detracted from worship. I’m not sure if one would call it momentum. But I felt a real flow of these songs leading me through a progression. Everybody Praise the Lord! That’s the reason we are here, gathering every week as one body lifting up the name of Christ. But as part of the praise, we need to block out the distractions and quiet our hearts. We as individuals, as well as corporately, recogonize how worthy He is of our lives, our worship and our Unashamed Love. He is not just a god. He is THE God, Mighty to Save and able to move mountains. No obsticle, not enemy, no problem is too large for Him. And no person is beyond His reach or unable to receive the salvation He offers. Hallelujah! Then to cap it all with another killer sermon in Philippians 1 from Rev. Warkentin. Wow, waht a great service!

  4. This is an interesting question Kim. I think that just as the worship component itself has a life its own the bigger picture must also include the ministry of the church at large. Gaining momentum and carrying out the grand vision of ministry through the church at large requires communicating what God is doing through the various forms and functions that ministry may carry in the church. I think you said that in your questions…I appreciate that struggle very much. We changed things up this week a bit (not because of highlighting a ministry) but there was a definite reaction (I think positive though we do need to tweek it a little bit). Next weeks service will be dedicated to a verbal ministry highlight as our mission team reports back on a recent trip. I do appreciate these post BTW

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