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Service planning
If you're thinking you don't have the resources for the media content for your screens that were mentioned in the first part to this article, realize that there are custom media content options such as preservice loops, countdowns, sermon bumpers tailored specifically for your series or event.

Service Planning: Beyond the Normal Scope of Thinking

Once you have your service flow or order of service in place, spend some time during the week talking through how each element of your service will transition to the next.

I know that Back to the Future might have been seen as a silly example by some in the previous segment of this piece, but my goal is to get you to think beyond your normal scope of thinking. 

It’s OK to have a base structure of your service flow.

For instance, you could even create a staff or volunteer leader role of "Weekend Experience Coordinator" that could lead a team of people to take $100 a week or whatever is doable for your budget and lead the charge of creating awesome environments surrounding your service.

If you're thinking you don't have the resources for the media content for your screens that were mentioned in the first part to this article on Friday, think again. At [twelve:thirty]media, we can work with your staff to create custom media content like preservice loops, countdowns, sermon bumpers and more tailored specifically for your series or event. Learn more about affordable custom media for your church here.

3. Think through transitions.

Transitions are one of the most underplanned and overlooked pieces of worship services. They are key to a great service flow.

Once you have your service flow or order of service in place, spend some time during the week talking through how each element of your service will transition to the next. All your key people should be included in these discussions - Worship Leader, Pastor, Welcomer, any other on-stage leaders, representatives from audio, lighting, video, and any other key people that will be responsible for the execution of your service. 

It’s good to talk through literally every transition you can. 

Using my example of a service flow above, here’s some questions to consider:

What time in the countdown is the band going out on-stage?

What are the first things that need to happen when the countdown hits 0:00? (Who in the band is playing and where are they located? What camera shots do you need to start on? What’s your first lighting cue going to look like? How is the audio going to transition?)

What does the transition look like between the first song into your Church Announcement Video? (How does the band end the song? What does the lighting need to look like? Is the house going full black? How much breathing room do you leave between the house going black and firing the video?)

How does the video end? Where in the video should your welcomer start coming to the stage?

You get the idea here. Talk through these things. Transitions are vital in creating a dynamic experience. 

4. Don’t tell them what’s coming.

What’s the advantage of printing your order of service? Why do you do that? Is it the way you’ve always done it? Is it to give credit to the soloist and to show people the names of songs?

Can I encourage you to use your screens to accomplish this? You can use lower-thirds or text on screen to let someone know who is singing. You can use lower-thirds or fullscreen graphics to show the scripture passage your pastor is preaching from. Use social media or a small section of your bulletin to list the worship setlist, so people can find songs if they want. 

You should definitely have some type of Production Sheet or Service Flow Rundown Sheet, for all your on-stage leaders and your production teams. An order of service for the congregation, though, is becoming an old school way of thinking.

If I’m honest, most of the time when I look at a printed order of service in church or at a local theater, it’s to see what’s left on the agenda, before I can go home … “two more songs, then we are done!” 

I see a couple advantages to not telling your congregation what’s coming in your service.

a. It creates anticipation. We all like a little excitement and suspense. Not knowing what’s coming in the service, adds an element of surprise and intrigue.

b. It cuts down on some printing costs. I would suggest still having a bulletin or service guide of some kind with your series graphic, a place for sermon notes, church announcements, links to your church social media accounts, and other things. But I would not include an order of service in this handout.

5. Have a structure so you can deviate from it.

It’s OK to have a base structure of your service flow.

For example:

a. Countdown
b. Cover Song or Performance Piece
c. Commercials/Church Announcement Videos
d. Welcome and Prayer
e. Worship Set of Two/Three Songs
f. Sermon Bumper Video
g. Message
h. Performance Song
i. Invitation and Dismissal

Have a similar base format or flow to your services, so you can deviate from it when you want to.

I would not suggest you change the flow in big ways every week. This puts a strain on your volunteers, as well as the whole team, for knowing what’s coming next and executing it well. Plus, when you deviate from your structure it feels special or different.

For instance, you could change your order in drastic ways for your Easter or Christmas services or other special occasions. Again, this creates excitement where people don’t know what’s about to happen and it creates memorable experiences.

I hope these tips help you as you are planning your service flow and creating weekly experiences at your church.

I’d love to chat with you about how you plan your worship experiences.

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