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How to Make Worship More Engaging

Have you ever felt bored as you worship God? Well hopefully not! If you are familiar with the contemporary worship scene you might feel a bit embarrassed admitting it. I mean, you may think of more traditional worship as boring but surely not the exciting guitar driven worship that happens in your church.

Even if you’ve never felt bored I think you might agree that there is further to go in worship. The excitement that many first felt may have faded for some over the years. I sense a longing for something more engaging and more interesting. How can we make it happen?

Why might someone struggle with worship?

I think one mistake that we have made is a linguistic mistake. We speak of corporate worship as almost synonymous with music and even a certain style of music – a style that perhaps isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

I also wonder if putting singers and musicians at the front leads to a passive listening. The set up is like that of a concert where you would only join in very occasionally. So it’s no wonder that in situations like this many people just don’t join in.

On top of all that many recent worship songs are so… er… bland. There must be Christian songs of more depth than we sing – but it is now thought to be radical to bring out the occasional hymn or to write a more downbeat worship song like the laments that we read in book of Psalms.

How can we get back on track?

So how can we regain the joy of worship? Am I advocating bigger bands, louder music and more funky music? No! Our thirst for more satisfying worship will not be quenched by hyping things up.

Worship in the early church was understood as much wider than music. Worship encompassed a life style. Worship gatherings had the breaking of bread at there heart as well as gifts of the Spirit and conversational teaching. With the advent of the modern worship movement an emphasis on music has taken over.

Of course this is a matter of emphasis. There is nothing wrong with using music in worship. It does have an important place. We can have some really good times of sung worship and some people do meet Jesus in the music but for crying out loud, haven’t we got it yet – worship is more than music. I’m beginning to rant now!

What is the way forward with worship?

So what I am I actually suggesting? I think that what we need is more planned worship that is both Biblical and relevant and engaging for those taking part. We need to put more time and effort into planning and preparation of our times of corporate worship to include both music and other activities put together as a coherent whole.

What is planning?

Planning and preparation should not be confused with rehearsing songs or musicians jamming together. Planning worship does involve carefully choosing songs but it there is more to it than that. What it means is that we can also work out some activities. Last year as a church we had a weekend away and had some amazing worship times.  The reason was time and effort had been put into planning engaging activities that involved everyone from the youngest to the oldest.

What are creative worship activities?

If you want some ideas for such creative activities there are tons of resources out there on the internet.  For starters you might like to explore Engage Worship that I came across at Spring Harvest this year. I am sure there are many many more resources and ideas out there. Just do some internet searches of your own.

What does planning involve?

Planning could start with a theme and then working out the running order of songs and/or the scheduling of the activities. Of course you can always adapt our plan on the day if someone wants to bring a contribution on the day. But we still need a plan – a plan that includes at least one interesting creative worship activity.

Planning teams

I believe that everyone can contribute in worship. One way to achieve this is to have planning meetings open to all those interested. Ideas can then be generated for an upcoming corporate worship time. Having listened to God together people could go away and prepare their part. The leaders would then just need to confirm with those who had prepared something that everything was ready.

Who plans the worship could also vary. It would make a refreshing change if this was handed over once in a while to others such as those skilled in arts and crafts or to those with a homeless ministry. Perhaps then worship would be more like going to an art gallery or sitting down for a meal or anything really.

Planning to include both music and activities

Of course we must not ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ so to speak. Instead of saying, ‘I don’t like your style we’re going to do it our way’, we can bring new ways of engaging God along side the current and, who knows, we may find our worship songs infused with new meaning.

Let’s go for it!

Come on then! Why don’t we do it? Are we are afraid of people complaining? We probably will get some grumbles from people who ‘don’t get it’? But maybe we fear our experiments won’t work? Let’s admit it – we fear failure. That’s understandable but instead of just sitting there isn’t it time to take that risk?

November 13, 2012 at 6:00 pm
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