Adapting Your Church’s Worship Over Time: Do’s and Don’ts

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You just landed an exciting new job as a worship pastor. Congrats! The church wants you to help expand their contemporary worship service over time. They currently just sprinkle in 3-4 praise songs haphazardly throughout each service. You envision a smoother ebb and flow to the worship time with more music. But where do you start in transitioning a congregation unfamiliar with contemporary worship? What should your order of service look like?

Gradual Changes Are Best

Implementing sweeping contemporary worship changes too abruptly could overwhelm church members accustomed to very traditional services. Set realistic goals for incremental improvements so people can ease into new songs, formats or production elements. Build on what currently resonates while mixing in revisions. Gently shepherding traditional churches into fresh expression requires much prayer and patience.

Seek Worship Service Balance

When designing your order of service, consider what balance best fits your unique congregation. A popular service order format sandwiches a sermon between two separate “sets” of two to three praise songs each. The opening set draws people into celebrative worship, preparing hearts for reflective time in Scripture and sermon. The closing set offers musical response.

Some modern churches use long, uninterrupted worship sets before the sermon and no music after. We’re talking pushing thirty minutes or more of back-to-back praise songs, creating an immersive spiritual experience before the message. While tempting to immediately implement a format like this for maximum musical impact, resist going overboard too quickly.

For traditionally-minded congregations, an abrupt half hour nonstop rocking worship set could prove jarring. Better to start with fifteen minutes and incrementally expand your opening set over subsequent months as the church adapts. Remember, gentle shepherding remains key when transitioning traditional churches to contemporary expression.

Sample Worship Service Orders

Here is one example of a balanced, moderately paced worship order that would appeal to many traditional leaning churches just starting to incorporate more contemporary music:

  • Opening Song
  • Welcome & Announcements
  • Song 2
  • Song 3
  • Pastoral Prayer
  • Scripture Reading
  • Sermon Response Song
  • Closing Song

And here is a more contemporary, music-driven order appropriate for churches comfortable with extended worship sets:

  • Countdown Video
  • Fast Opening Song
  • Medium-Tempo Song
  • Slower Worship Song
  • Welcome & Offering
  • Upbeat Song
  • Vocal Solo
  • Sermon
  • Invitational Song
  • Worship Song
  • Announcements
  • Closing Worship Song

Continually Seek Wisdom

Keep seeking wisdom from experienced ministry colleagues about revising your worship service order. Patiently make gradual changes over time. Find formats fitting your unique congregation that keep Christ at the center through scripture, sermon, and invitation. Stay sensitive to feedback. And bathe it all in prayer! If your priority remains serving people over production, then thoughtfully implementing these tips will lead to vibrant worship in spirit and truth.

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This Week’s Top Songs

Keep track of the top CCLI, Praisecharts, CCM and Hymncharts along with lyrics! There’s nothing like this list on the Internet! Go to the Top Songs page.

Find Hymns That Match Your Favorite Worship Songs

Which hymns go well with Bethel’s Goodness of God? Search at HYMNDEX.COM.

YouTube Worship Playlists!

From Worshipflow editor Don Chapman:

I like to listen to Youtube videos/podcasts as I drive around and have wished I could find a good, current playlist of all the top worship songs.

I can’t find any! So I made my own on the Worshipflow Youtube channel!

You’ll find playlists for the top CCLI, Praisecharts and CCM radio hits updated every week.

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