Pastors and worship leaders who would never intentionally be rude to someone in their own home, are regularly disrespectful to the King of Kings in His own throne room.
If you were invited to the oval office, would you turn off your cell phone? Can you imagine yourself interrupting the leader of the western world to say, “Excuse me Mr. President, I have a call…Hello…Yeah…Sure, I’ll pick some up on the way home. Guess where I am.…”
You wouldn’t treat the president that way, why do you treat the creator of the universe that way? “Oh no”, you say? You think you would never be so rude? Please consider a typical evangelical worship service.
The segments of the service in bold are those that can be considered worship.
See the problem? Notice how the first three worship segments (indicated in ‘bold’) are isolated from each other. Now try to see that same service from God’s perspective.
Centuries ago, ushers in some churches carried sticks that they used to thump folks on the head if they did anything that distracted others from worship. A lot of worship leaders and pastors today need a thump on the head.
There’s nothing wrong with announcements, welcoming visitors, or taking an offering. However, a problem arises when these things interrupt worship. Pastors and worship leaders, who would never intentionally be disrespectful to God, do so weekly by interrupting Him to do things of lesser importance.
Why do Christians act like this? Why have so many become satisfied with services that never let them spend quality time with their Heavenly Father? Satan surely has something to do with it. Little by little, he has deceived them into thinking that what they experience week to week is all there is. How sad.
If worship in your church is riddled with interruptions; what should you do about it? Depends on who you are.
If you’re in a position to actually influence the order of service in your church; start by analyzing your worship service. Appendix 2 in my Prayer Guide book is a good starting place. Then rearrange the service so that once the congregation is led into the Lord’s presence, they get to stay there for at least twenty minutes without interruption.
If you’re not involved in the planning of worship, but think this information would be helpful to those who are – forward this newsletter to them and consider buying them a copy of Prayer Guide – A Manual for Leading Prayer. Read it and then take them out to lunch. Give a personal testimony telling them how it blessed you and which parts of the book you think will be of most interest to them. Mark those parts with a sticky-note. (Part 5 is specifically about worship.)
After a couple of weeks, ask them what they thought about it. Don’t be surprised if they haven’t had time to look at it. Ask again later. Be patient, but don’t be afraid to keep asking. It’s important.
Previous articles in the Forgotten Altar series:
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16 (NKJV)
Success is in the details and a worship service profile documents details of worship that reveal a great deal about how a church does worship and whether it’s actually giving quality time to the things it deems most important. For instance, if a congregation says that it wants to be a house of prayer , but spends two minutes in monologue prayer and only fifteen seconds in corporate prayer, but ten minutes on announcements; they’ve got some significant adjustments to make.
To do a profile, you need to write down the exact time of every transition in the worship service. You can do this in real time using a digital watch, or from a video using the time stamp from the video. With each time stamp, make a brief not of what the transition was. It might start something like this:
From this list, you can calculate how much time was given to different elements and help you see the structure and flow of the service.
Time is one of the most valuable possessions people have and they are very careful about how they spend it. If there are 100 people in a worship service, that means the congregation, as a whole, is offering one hundred hours to the Lord as a kind of time offering.
One detail that’s exposed by a profile is wasted time. One profile revealed thirty-five seconds in which a soloist walked from the back of the congregation to the podium, talked privately with the accompanist, then found a microphone. Multiply that half minute parade by the 200 people sitting in the pews and it amounted to almost two hours of boredom.
Another issue that many worship leaders don’t recognize until they’ve done a profile is the fragmented service. Even after decades of the Worship Wars, most churches still chop worship into two to five minute segments. The congregation is caught in a revolving door going in and out, in and out, of God’s presence.
Then there’s bookend prayer, the habit of always putting prayer at the beginning or end of some element of the service and never in the middle of a worship segment. One of the simple evaluation techniques in the profile evaluation is to put a heart around any prayer preceded and followed by worship. (prayer at the heart of worship)
Whether it’s a little issue like dead time between songs or a major one like bringing significant congregational prayer into the heart of worship, a profile gives you an undeniable picture of what you’re doing.
If you have the Prayer Guide book, there's more about conducting a simple profile in chapter 17.
This is the best way to improve worship. Not only will it alert you to deficiencies in the way your service is conducted; it gives you concrete information to discuss with church leaders, moving the discussion from likes and dislikes to facts and priorities. It includes:
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