I lead worship at a medium sized church. We do things as well as we can, and oftentimes do so with an excellence that far exceeds the “classification” we are in. To put it bluntly, we execute some things better than a church our size often does. Do we have light years of improvement ahead? Absolutely. But two of the trends I have seen in my experience is our tendency to do the same thing from week to week and to try and do more exciting things on Easter and Christmas. Usually, the latter involves videos and special lighting, and maybe a drama-type-thingy.
In the case of the monotonous week-to-week, I fear we sometimes become too predictable. Faith is anything but monotonous, but I am afraid church can be! There is something about being caught off balance (in a good way) that can be refreshing for the soul. When we become one dimensional in our planning, we produce churches that expect a one dimensional experience on Sunday. I cannot say I advocate for every week pushing into the unknown, but on occasion, and with some regularity, I believe doing something, anything, can be beneficial to our teams and our congregation.
I sometimes try to fake this type of change-up by singing a song with a different flavor, and while this is somewhat effective, it doesn’t necessarily produce the kind of fresh experience that I am looking for. A little bit of intrigue can go a long way to help people break the monotony.
To the second point, that we only do the special things on those special weeks, I have another concern. While I am surrounded by extraordinary people, whose talent is being used in super effective ways for the Kingdom, I think we fail a little by only doing the special things on the special weeks. We just don’t execute them well because we only do it every 6 months. It is hard to improve our crafts with a practice schedule like that. Also, we sometimes have a backwards way of looking at other worship expressions.
I had a conversation with our Worship Arts director regarding a worship night we had a few months ago. I used a video to open the night, in what I assumed would be a meaningful and impactful manner. On recapping our time, he said something that I thought was telling. It was something along the lines of “We shouldn’t be making it feel like it is Easter.” What he was getting at was the use of those types of elements are seen as “attractional” elements, not worship elements. I immediately got to thinking about how bummed I was that these things aren’t seen as enhancements to worship.
I am a musician, but I believe worship goes way beyond just music. As humans we are seemingly hard-wired to connect with music. But frankly, we are hardwired for other things as well. After all, we have eyes, and noses and other sensory organs all designed to help us engage and enjoy our environments. I know there are plenty of attractional things that we do, and often for that purpose alone. But I have seen other forms of worship enhance a gathering time to staggering effect.
I suggest we include different worship elements more often…way more often. The results will be beneficial on both of the issues I have expressed above. First, it will keep us from monotony and repetition. Second, it will improve our ability to execute when we decide to step out of the music box. In summary, get out and interpretive praise dance once a month!