Thursday is for Worship
(And so is every other day of the week)
A former student recently emailed me to ask for help in the area of worship. He is faithfully serving a small church in the mid-west and I hope they know what a gem they have as a leader/preacher/thinker. Bottom line, he has little musical talent in his congregation and has inherited a church that has an aversion to liturgical structures. So what would you advise? Here’s a slightly amended version of what I said.
MY THOUGHTS:Wish I had a magic sauce or formula to follow but life doesn’t work that way. Here are some ideas.
- Admit the truth to everyone in the church. “We need help.”
- Invite all to pray. Nothing happens without prayer and we shouldn’t want anything to happen without prayer.
- Don’t attempt more than you can reasonably and consistently deliver. When Bob Logan planted his first church and well before he became one of the early church planting gurus, he had terrible worship. Worship was so bad that in a 60 minute service, he would preach for 50 minutes just so the worship leader didn’t have to do so much. Eventually, solid preaching and honesty (and pathetic distracting music) began to draw leaders with a heart to worship and things improved, the church grew and became one of the first truly church-planting churches in Southern California.
- Develop some readers. This can be a liturgical element that they don’t even recognize and can do much to move the heart to worship. Train a group of people to read the Scripture well. Read it with passion, with a sense of moment, of weight. Help them learn to use their voice to convey feeling, passion and importance. Teach them to recognize and appreciate that they are reading the very words of God. When you have a team of them that you are confident in, begin to use them to read the Scripture before you come up to preach. Use them in the middle of a message when you move beyond the text you are focused on to another. Eventually, when they have grown to appreciate what you and the readers contribute, you might be able to use these same readers to give a formal call to worship at the beginning of the service. All of this will cut down on the need for music.
- Shorten the service.
- Tell the worship team that your expectation is two songs/hymns with music. Make a capella cool, maybe even a distinctive of the church.
- One of my former students had a really novel idea. He found one guy who could teach piano and guitar and had the church sponsor lessons for interested members of the community from inside and outside the church. They developed not only dozens of musicians but trained many worship team members. Eventually, two or three of the men they found and trained this way became full time employed worship leaders in other churches. They even had some evangelistic impact on some of the outsiders who came in to learn how to play the guitar and found the Savior.
- Keep praying. Desperation is a wonderful motivator.
- Work hard at teaching the congregation that worship is more than music.
Here’s a link you may find helpful. Some good ideas and some that I would definitely underscore for a guy in your situation (esp. #4 and 7).
- What would you say?
- Did I give any bad advice?
- What would you add?
- Got any creative ideas for churches in similar circumstances?