Although most pastors spend much of their time in sermon preparation, it seems evident in most worship services that I have attended that the least possible time is spent in preparation for the rites of worship. Many worship services show all too clearly that the manner of preparation was, run the finger down the index of the hymnal, find any hymn we haven’t sung recently, and write it down. Then, a responsive reading here, a special song there; the choir special, whatever they may be singing this week, gets thrown in somewhere, and here a prayer, there a prayer, everywhere a little prayer.
Contrary to popular evangelical opinion, a well-planned, programmed worship service is not cold and formal. In fact, some of the most inspiring services I have led or participated in have been those that had the most planning. Is it fair to make the instrumentalists wait until 10:55 Sunday morning to see what they will be expected to play for the service? Is the choir being used effectively when they are not consulted about your sermon plans and objectives for a particular service? And what about the congregation? What does it do for their worship to be imposed upon by the announcements immediately following a rousing choir performance and right before the sermon?
Do your people even understand what they should be doing in a worship service? Do they know what they should be experiencing, what approach they should be taking? Are they aware that the prelude is to be a time of silent meditation and preparation for the things to come and not a time to visit?
The people will appreciate the worship service only as much as the pastor appreciates it himself. If the pastor hurries through all the preliminaries with the attitude, “let’s ...1
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