Monday, November 17, 2008

Reviewing our services

Its always tough being part of a review. Our contribution to worship services is an emotional commitment of ourselves as well as a mental, energy, and ability commitment. So a 'review' of our services can be something we prefer to avoid: 'why were there 17 songs in the service?' is heard as 'why did YOU choose 17 songs?'

Yet without review we may never improve on what we offer; and without improvement we may find that newcomers do not return and regulars slip to irregular attendance.

One smart way to review is to 'self-review' frequently (with 'self-review' meaning either 'I the individual responsible review what goes on' or 'We the team responsible review what goes on'). That way its likely that bad habits will not be fallen into, improvements are constant, and when a "Review" happens, its not so threatening. (A "Review" should happen from time to time since 'self-reviews' are by definition unlikely to incorporate the perspective of 'the other person').

Here are some questions to ask when reviewing worship services:

- how many pieces of paper are we placing in people's hands?
- (if Powerpoint is used instead of paper) how readily viewable is the screen? does its placement enhance the unity of congregation and leader?
- (paper or Powerpoint) is the wording of songs and prayers accurate?
- how well is the sound system working?
- when directions are given (verbally or in writing), are these directions:
(i) clear/understandable
(ii) inclusive/welcoming or exclusionary?*
(iii) appropriately placed?**
- what things are distracting and what are enhancing with respect to worshippers' mood/concentration? (e.g. are there periods of silence? does 'mood music' during (say) communion distract from or enhance communicants' reflection? do Powerpoint slides during intercessions distract from or assist focus on our prayers?)

*A special challenge (IMHO) are the instructions we give around children and infants: all too readily with one badly chosen word we can convey the impression we do not want children and infants present in the service!

**I am continuing to be amazed at the choices some worship leaders make for the placement of notices; but my personal bete-noire is giving instructions on reception of communion just prior to the invitation to people to come forward!!!!!!!???????? The point of the Great Thanksgiving, Prayer of Humble Access and Fraction of the bread is drawing us deeper into union with Christ ... to interrupt the flow of words and actions with banal instructions about dipping, sipping, options re juice/wine is ... just wrong ... and a few other things I shall restrain myself from saying.

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