How do you view worship? How does your congregation view worship? When we sing “ Lord, I will follow you” or “You give and take away” we are making serious statements to God. Do we treat our worship as a ritual that we do because we are told to or do we see it as a serious conversation between ourselves, our congregations, and God? Hopefully we can say we treat it as the latter.
Believe it or not the order of our songs can tend to lead us into conversation through our worship more than anything else we can plan to do. There is really no set way to plan a service or worship set… we can have general plans or ways of doing things but in the end the choice of certain songs is unique to each congregation. In worship planning there are really no right or wrong songs to use… different songs are useful for different things and while one song might provide incredible insight into God’s character and majesty another may provide simplistic but meaningful conversation about our reliance on the Lord. In the end, some songs are written “about” God and are filled with statements about His character (many hymns are written about God). Other songs make statements “to” God, as if in a conversation.
My suggestion is to sequence the songs in a revelation to response method by placing the ones that reveal things about or talk about the ways or attributes of God closer to the beginning of the service as the congregation is preparing themselves and getting in the frame of mind that congregational worship demands. When we provide revelation first it allows the people within our congregation to think and sing about God and it moves them into the mindset of desiring a conversation with the One that they know and hold dear. The method here is much like a gathering or party. Right at the outset of the party typically people aren’t willing to open up and share the personal parts of their lives with each other. Instead we start with “ice-breaker” and casual conversations… we learn about each other (jobs, relationship statuses, hobbies, attributes, etc). Conversations usually become more personal as defenses fall and authentic communication can be accomplished. Therefore, we need to do the same thing with our designed worship experiences… we first learn about God ad meditate on Him and then we can begin to open up and respond to Him through conversation.
Our revelations about God should call us and our congregations to respond.
Hopefully with this loose structure in mind we can begin to more effectively plan and organize services that have a way of moving people into genuine conversation and worship of God. The ball is ultimately in each individuals court, but we should be good stewards of the leadership that we have been given.