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DeLorean Getty Images
Know anyone that owns a DeLorean? You could have it on display at your entrance, as just one idea to set your environment around your worship service. 

Service Planning: What to Plan to Create the Dynamic Experience

In this first of two parts on planning your services, we look at creating the experience for the people that attend. In placing elements of your service in the order you want, you determine the journey in which they go on.

Your weekend worship experience is the hub for other activities at your church.

Planning ahead is a crucial piece of preparing for a dynamic, engaging service.

It's the main event.

It's the gathering for your entire church. 

It is where you invite guests to; where you teach, preach, and worship the most.

It would make sense that you would want to pour the most time, energy, and money into creating this experience. 

It's also the event you should spend most of your time planning. 

When planning your services, you are creating the experience for the people that attend. In placing elements of your service in the order you want, you determine the journey in which they go on. 

So, how can you make it dynamic? Exciting? Cohesive? Memorable?

Here are some tips for planning dynamic worship experiences:

1. Plan ahead, with the Holy Spirit’s help.

I know that a lot of your planning can be reliant upon your senior pastor working ahead. But you can take some initiative and be proactive in planning with your senior leadership. 

Don't be afraid to let them know what you need to be successful - after all, you're all about creating an amazing experience.

Be sure to plan your services far enough in advance for you to be able to prepare teaching content, produce video elements, prepare your band and musicians, go to press on printed materials, and everything else you need for a Sunday. 

Planning ahead is a crucial piece of preparing for a dynamic, engaging service. 

The same Holy Spirit that can change your plan spontaneously on a Sunday morning is the same Holy Spirit that will guide you, as you plan your services.

2. Take your audience on a journey.

From the moment someone drives into your parking lot, to the moment they drive away on a Sunday, you are taking your audience on a journey. The experience starts in the parking lot. 

So, when thinking through and planning your services, think about what each guest is experiencing from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave the parking lot.

During your actual service, don't just sing a handful of random songs and preach a message, where nothing really connects and it's not cohesive. Think through how every element affects every other element in and around your service.

I’m a big ‘80s kid. My favorite movie trilogy of all time is Back to the Future (1985)

So, as a crazy example, I’m about to attempt to build an entire worship experience around Back to the Future.

Get ready … this is going to be heavy ...

Let's say you did a message series on "God at the Movies," where you take popular movies and wrap a spiritual truth around the idea of a movie. 

Let's say one Sunday, you used "Back to the Future," to talk about how our past doesn't define us and how Jesus can free us from our past and give us hope for the future.

Here are some ideas to set your environment around your worship service:

When pulling into your parking lot, you could have your parking volunteers wearing orange jackets, like Marty McFly.

You could have movie score music playing, such as from the "Back to the Future" soundtrack, on outside speakers and in your atrium, as people are walking in.

You could have guys doing skateboard demos in a sectioned off area that is outside, but near your entrance.

Know anyone that owns a DeLorean? You could have it on display at your entrance.

You could have your greeters wear nametags with their name and birth year on it - "Jim Smith from 1955".

In your atrium, you could have popcorn stands with bags of fresh popcorn, or have photo booths with people dressed up as iconic movie characters. Other options could be having movie marquees, red carpets, movie posters, and memorabilia all around.

Your pre-service loop on your screens could roll movie trivia or have your church announcements in the style of slides or trailers that you would see on the big screen.

Here's a possible service flow for your worship experience:

1. Countdown

Your countdown could have movie trivia, movie clips or quotes from the movie you are featuring that day.

2. Cover Song

Your first song could be a cover of "The Power of Love," by Huey Lewis and the News.

If a cover song doesn’t fit at your church, maybe start with God-honoring songs about what Jesus did to clean our past - “Jesus Paid It All,” or “What a Beautiful Name it Is."

3. Church Announcement Video

In the style of a movie trailer with a movie voiceover. 

This could promote a church event or ministry... "Coming this summer. Kids will play. Parents will be free. Lives will be changed. KidsCamp. Only at Life Church."

4. Welcome and Prayer

A greeting from a pastor on staff. He could come out with a Flux Capacitor prop or wearing the big helmet Doc Brown wore in the movie. He could even come out dressed as a character from the movie.

5. Worship Set of two/three songs

God honoring songs that could relate to the topic of being free from our past. 

Possibly old hymns like:

"Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies)" ("I know who goes before me, I know who stands behind...)

"Because He Lives" ("Because He Lives I can face tomorrow...all fear is gone...because I know He holds the future, and life is worth living because He lives")

"Amazing Grace (my Chains are Gone)" ("My chains are gone, I've been set free")

6. Sermon Bumper

30-60 second bumper, with content from the series messages and clips from Back to the Future and other movies in your series.

7. Message from your Pastor

8. Reprise of the song "Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)"

9. Invitation and Dismissal

OK, I understand that maybe you're thinking you can't do all of these ideas, but you could do some!

Look to even more ideas in the second part of this piece, relating to the planning of services this Monday, May 20, "Service Planning: Beyond the Normal Scope of Thinking."

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