It's so easy to get in a rut with our worship! The longer we stay in the rut, the more our people can simply go through the motions of the service without thinking, without truly worshiping. This article presents scores of specific ideas to help you in worship planning. It can also help you weed out elements that distract from worship.
Our Creative God
We have to look no further than nature to see that we serve an infinitely creative God. Had He chosen to create a black and white world, what human would have suggested, "What this world needs is a little color!" We'd have never conceived the possibility of color. The incredible variety of form and color among plants and animals shows that our God delights in creative diversity.
Concerning worship through song, we again find our creative God presenting us with a huge palette from which to choose our colors. In the context of worship, Scriptures present us with
A variety of instruments (harps, stringed instruments, horns, trumpets, cymbals, harps, lyres, timbrels and tambourines - Rev. 5:8, Hab. 3:19, I Chron. 15:28,29, Ex. 15:20)
A variety of body language (e.g., leaping, clapping, dancing, lifting hands, standing, bowing down, kneeling - I Chron. 15:29, 23:30 Ps. 47:1, 28:2, 95:6, 134:2, Ex. 15:20)
A variety of directions (directed to the nations, to one another, to all the earth, to God - Ps. 117, 100, 138, Eph. 5:19, I Sam. 16:23)
A variety of content (teaching, praying, praise, thanksgiving, relating a testimony, exhortation - Ps. 1, 8, 18, 134, 136, 138).
Could it be that we misrepresent our creative God when we restrict our worship to a few overused forms?
Purpose Driven Music: How to Choose Forms and Techniques
From the Biblical data, I conclude that God has left open to us a huge variety of possible techniques to use in our worship services. How do we choose among the abundance of possibilities? If Bubba and his less than talented brothers volunteer to lead the metro youth group in a rousing Polka song, would my denial smack of creative censure?
I suggest that we first seek God as to which function He wants the music to perform in each part of a service. For example, here are some functions of music I find in the Bible:
To teach (Col. 3:16, Ps. 27)
To admonish (Col. 3:16, Ps. 131)
To praise God (Ps. 43:4)
To confess sin to God (Ps. 51)
To petition God (Psalm 3)
To relate a personal testimony (Ps. 116)
If our purpose in one service segment is to teach a biblical truth, I must ask the question, "Would Bubba's Polka band effectively communicate this truth to the group?" If not, I must seek a song that's filled with the right content and clothed in an effective style to achieve my God-given purpose. Schedule Bubba for the annual talent show instead.
Our goal is not to "wow" our audience, to show off, to make people think we're professional or cool. Our goal is to fulfill the purposes God has given us, whether they be teaching Scriptural truth or drawing people to worship God. Clarifying your purpose for a song is your first step toward choosing the best song and the most effective styles or techniques with which to present it.
Getting the Most Out of These Ideas
You can't digest all of these ideas in one fell swoop. I suggest first reading through all of the ideas and putting a check mark beside the ideas that you'd like to implement. Second, go back to your checked items and circle two or three that you'd like to try now. Third, keep track of new ideas as you get them, adding them to the list below. Fourth, keep coming back to this list each month to spark your creativity. Our lazy tendency is to keep falling back into our comfortable ruts.