I have been in a lot of worship services. Chances are so have you.
I’ve spent the last 16 years of my life either planning, programming, or preaching for some sort of gathering. These gatherings span all the way from youth to college age to twenty-somethings. And if I wasn’t doing these things, I was planning on planning.
But I, when I joined a church staff as pastor to university students, I quickly realized that there were a lot of things I needed to unlearn, learn, and relearn about large group gatherings.
Here are five myths I had to learn to avoid. I hope you can learn to overcome them, too.
Myth #1: Every large group gathering needs to be exceedingly better than the one before it.
I naturally strive for powerful, creative, and innovative large group gatherings, but that can easily turn into worshiping worship. I want my disciples to be able to distinguish between creativity and novelty. After a year of running ourselves ragged trying to do something totally different and original each week, we came up with a policy: establish the template before you break it.
For us, that meant that over time we developed a liturgy of sorts, a structure to worship that we will tweak here and there every week. Now that we have that established structure, on the nights when we do break our norm, our students are freed to try new things because of the trust equity we have built up.
Myth #2: If you focus on discipleship, your large group gathering will suffer.
In the last year, we have restructured our ministry in such a way that our large group gathering no longer monopolizes or gets the lion’s share of time and resources. We did this in order to focus on creating a sustainable and repeatable model of discipleship in which all of my team is personally involved. I was well aware that this might hurt our large group numbers.
But the crazy thing is it has actually made our large group gatherings better. Why? For starters, we are gathering to celebrate the discipleship and mission that is happening all throughout the week, not looking for a substitute for it.