Home Worship & Creative Leaders Articles for Worship & Creative Why Your Church Needs to Think Beyond the Worship Set

Why Your Church Needs to Think Beyond the Worship Set

1. The worship set can fragment the order of service.

First, the worship set can fragment the order of service. If pastors and other leaders aren’t careful, using a worship set can subtly convey that the worship service basically has two parts: the singing and the sermon. The worship leader presides over the first half, then passes the baton to the pastor for the message.

I fear that because of this, many evangelicals have a bifurcated picture of public worship: The music part of the service is geared at those who relate to God through emotional experiences, while the sermon exists to engage heady, left-brain types.

At worst, this false dichotomy can also perpetuate the common misconception that worship through song is the church’s worship, leading to comments like, “The worship (read: music) today was incredible, but the sermon was a bit dry”—as if preaching is not doxology too.

However we structure our services, we must take pains to convey that both music and preaching (and other elements—see point 2) are properly “worship” to God, and that they’re essential for all Christians.

Here are some suggestions to circumvent this danger. First, if your services usually fall into the “30 minutes of music and 30 minutes of preaching” formula, then change up your order of service regularly. Consider breaking up the music set with prayer, Scripture reading or silent reflection. Try occasionally placing the sermon closer to the beginning of the service and leaving most of the singing for after the message.

Have an individual other than the worship leader or preacher, preferably an elder, lead the whole service. Call this man a “host,” an “MC,” a “service leader” (that’s the term we use at my church) or whatever you like. But make sure he’s not the music leader or the preacher. If this individual gives the welcome and announcements, introduces the songs, presides over the offering, leads the prayers and so on, then he can bring unity to the whole service.

Pick a theme for the service based on the theme of the sermon text. Ensure that the songs, prayers and even the announcements relate to this theme. When the congregation realizes that the whole service is about “the faithfulness of God” or “knowing Christ in suffering,” it will mitigate against the feeling that the worship service is merely a concert followed by an unrelated talk.

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mattmerker@churchleaders.com'
Matt Merker is a Pastoral Assistant at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, where his responsibilities include music and service preparation. A native of Long Island, NY, Matt studied at Vanderbilt University and is currently an M.Div candidate at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife Erica are in the process of adopting a child.