Service Planning: 8 Practices of Synchronizing Sundays

We must confess an occasional ache for the simplicity of an acoustically perfect preaching arena as Jesus had for His Sermon on the Mount.

When speaking of the concept of "Synchronizing Sundays," two types of planning for Services of Worship must be taken into account: the nuts and bolts, and the heart and mind.

Of the two, the former is the easier to address and attain.

Even the most adept of operators must admit the pressure of perfection often intervenes and emerges in the midst of a "love one another" message.

Of the two, the latter is most essential to achieve.

For without synchronizing the heart and mind in the planning of worship, learning the mechanics of production or assembly the resources of presentation can make a weekend worship experience no different than 9-to-5s or other experiences that during the 167 hours of the week between church services with all the stress and other emotions the flesh is heir to.

As technology has improved and provided greater options for how the gospel of Christ is presented during corporate worship, even the most adept of operators must admit the pressure of perfection often intervenes and emerges in the midst of a "love one another" message.

Even the most engaging of pastors must admit times of frustration and doublemindedness when approaching the pulpit as the clock ticks and suddenly as the two-minute warning breaks through the blinding theater lights to disclose there are two points remaining in the prepared five-point sermon.  Does the pastor edit on the fly? Apologize that the message will delay the exit for kickoff? Indulge the short-attention-span audience, by saying, "I'm almost done," or "I'm closing," for the third time?

It's almost unnecessary to bring up the musicians' angst Too loud, too soft; too fast, too long; "holely" jeans, untucked shirts; shallow lyrics, antiquated hymns (What's a bulwark'? Who is Ebenezeer?).

And what's with those folks in the media booth, from PowerPoint typos, to slow panel changes; can you say, "Feedback?"

These illustrations beg these questions:

How can anybody worship in this atmosphere?
How can anybody serve in this atmosphere?

Yes, and most significantly:

How can anybody who serves, worship in this atmosphere?

Answer: You can't.

How:  Romans 12:2 "Be transformed by the renewing of your minds."

To be complete, this reference of Paul's letter to the Roman church needs the context of verse 1 wherein he tells the readers, "offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to Godthis is your true and proper worship."

For our modern context, the idea of synchronizing corporate worship planning (Sundays, weekend, anytime) must begin with the individual worshipper, individual server grasping and wrestling with Paul's assertion to not conform to the worldly (human) challenges of worship, but to transform our worship by renewing how we think about worship and utilize the resources that God provides each congregation.

Grasping this concept is essential to embracing the practical suggestions herewith.

To be sure, the bells and whistles, nuts and bolts resources offered at a church ministry conference can be exhilarating.  They can also be overwhelming and add to stress, if not viewed and utilized in the right mindset.

The more elements used, the higher the stress potential; the higher the stress, the lower the worship experience for those who serve.

As fine and necessary as spreadsheets, Post-it Notes, calendar apps and rehearsals are, we must confess an occasional ache for the simplicity of an acoustically perfect preaching arena as Jesus had for His Sermon on the Mount. Or for the yen to joyfully sing with the improvised, prehymnal, pre-PowerPoint Holy Spirit-inspired freedom, of congregational call-and-response.

Withstanding the stress, receiving the joy both involve being spiritually prepared.

Coming to serve wearing the full armor of God.  When the team of technicians, musicians, presenters, ushers, etc.,  arrive for their weekend responsibility, how have they lived in the hours since their last assignment? Is rehearsal, or even Sunday check-in their first exposure to what God has to say to them this week?

Can they multitask and effectively let God speak?  Does the planning core take into account, not just the believers who are the regular audience, but also the curious from the unchurched community who may just show up with a need?  Is our worship planning our worship too small?

Each church has different needs, resources, personnel and passion that will dictate what tools are used.  These elements of "Synchronizing Sundays" takes these differences into account and addresses the constant that each church has regardless of size, location or denomination.  That constant is the individual worship servant.

Thus, here are practices that have been helpful in an assortment of worshipping communities.
They're summarized and recommended for reflection, meditation, prayer and devotion for individuals and local worship ensembles.

1. Develop worship-centric small groups
2. Examine your personal approach to worship
3. Revise, expand your language of worship
4. Seek atypical opportunities to engage others
5. Expect, recognize enemy attacks
6. Brainstorm with Yes, And
7. Create a culture of feedback
8. Take Sunday off

These summary practices raise questions and beg for details.
Those items are forthcoming. Meanwhile, feel free to ask.  Initial, encouraging responses welcomed.

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