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Service planning
To avoid surprises and frustration, one idea that can help is to get the right people in the room to discuss upcoming services.

Service Planning: Pay Close Attention to Details That Add to Success

At the end of a successful service, look back and see how the details were the glue that held everything together.

Planning a church service seems like an easy thing to do, right? It’s so easy a monkey could do it. Not exactly.

I encourage you to look at your overall service, know where you are going, and know specifically what you are aiming for.

You’ve probably sat in services where everything had a nice flow. As a member of the congregation, you felt like there was a consistent theme, and it seemed like all the elements supported each other.

However, you’ve probably also attended services where the overall experience felt disconnected, unintentional, and just plain didn’t work. No church wants this to happen, but without proper planning, which includes collaborating with key members of your team, it will happen.

Let’s look at how it can be avoided.

The Right Team

First of all, who needs to be involved in this process? Define the players that will either be on the stage or be behind the scenes in a supporting role.

If you’re like most churches, some of these people will be obvious, such as pastor, worship leader, and tech director. However, most churches that have grown over the years, now find themselves with more people than ever involved, and also more technical scenarios to talk through, to make sure the service runs smoothly and supports the message of the day.

Positions you might not naturally think to include in these conversations can include ushers, greeters, prayer teams, hosts, campus pastor, video producer, musical director, stage support, security, lighting director, camera operators, teachers, and more. These individuals can be impacted, and caught off guard, by parts of the service that leadership might deem obvious, or unnecessary to talk about in detail.

To avoid surprises and frustration, one idea that can help is to get the right people in the room to discuss upcoming services. Depending on how far in advance you plan your services, this could be a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly meeting.

My church recently implemented such a plan, and I’m sometimes amazed at how beneficial it is to have people from different departments and different perspectives get in the same room, to share their ideas.  These meetings have the potential to produce some truly creative results.

Good Transitions – The Myth, The Legend

Most people will agree that transitions make or break a service. It’s deceptively easy to convince yourself that transitions are self-explanatory and don’t need rehearsed, but if you’ve ever found yourself in the middle of a bad one, you’re quickly reminded why these are needed.

I heard this quote somewhere, and it has stuck with me, “You don’t get what you expect, you only get what you inspect. This means that if you have a role in planning your service, you need to actually run through and rehearse these transitions, so you can see if it will work or not.

Seems obvious, right?

As a worship leader, even though I know that this is a valuable step, I still find myself tempted to skip it, only to often pay the price later.


The grand slam is found in this type of micro detail. It’s found in the minutia, which might not be the most exciting topics to talk through, but they are critically important.

At the end of a successful service, you can look back and see how these details were the glue that held everything together.

Here are some real-life examples of questions you might need to ask your team:

  • Who will open the service and greet the congregation?
  • How are we moving into the singing time?
  • How do the musicians enter and exit the stage?  Will someone from the worship team pray after the last song? What mic will they use?
  • Is there a bumper video to transition into the sermon?
  • When pastor is ready to preach, are there props, or any object lesson for the stage that needs to be put in place?
  • Is there a response time after the sermon? Are people invited forward?
  • Will people be prayed for at the altar? If so, will the front fill speakers be turned down or off?
  • Is there any music needed during closing comments?
  • When pastor dismisses, will the band play live or will there be a recorded song?

I encourage you to look at your overall service, know where you are going, and know specifically what you are aiming for.

Look at each transition. Is it helping the flow of the service? You have to know the big goal, the big theme, the big response (macro dynamics), but you also have to know all of the nuts and bolts type logistical questions (micro dynamics), so you can handle them in a way that supports the message and doesn’t detract from it.

As you get better at service planning, you will create experiences where teams collaborate together, with the congregation engaged, and God is glorified.

That is the grand slam we all want!

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