Curating Worship Services

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Tags: Church

Comments: 1

Dear Pastors

Curating Worship Services

Warning: I am going to be a bit in your face today.

Some of you may remember me writing about my (informal) study three years ago where I visited 20 churches of different sizes, styles, and affiliations around NZ but mostly in the greater Waikato region. You may remember my dismay about the ‘liturgy’ that most all had adopted. Sure not a liturgy as in a Traditional Church but a ‘contemporary’ liturgy none-the-less. It’s very simple. It rolls like this:-

Singing (always standing)
Announcements usually via video
Communion or baby dedication

That said, the typical run sheets are much much longer, very wordy and usually down to the minute, actually half minute.

It is so predictable and to be really honest, really boring. There I’ve said it! So much so that I am sympathetic to all ‘The Dones’1 who have walked away from church especially the millennials (but to be clear haven’t walked away from faith). But before you have bad thoughts about the millennials, another group that are walking away in NZ are my age group and some are my friends. The 60 year olds.

Where is the creativity gone friends? Where is the careful crafting of the Sunday morning worship experience gone?

I hold to a view that the Pastor should curate (or craft) the Sunday morning worship experience. Sure work with the creatives on your team if you have them but as pastor you take responsibility. Why? Because that is what you have been trained to do, that’s what you are paid to do and besides you know what is best to do.

Here’s a different way of looking at a service, perhaps.

Let’s start with time. The literature is saying 75 minutes2. So let’s go with that.

In a contemporary/charismatic church context, these precious minutes may look like this:-

Singing: 25 minutes (either in one segment or two)
Announcements: 5 minutes
Sermon: 25 minutes

TOTAL: 55 minutes

So the question is what else should I now include OR what else can I now include in the remaining 20 minutes that people are giving me every week? We are not without a few options.
Baptisms, communion, baby dedications, children’s talk, a multi-media presentation, creative reading of the Bible, prayer(thoughtful prayers for your people, intercession and petition), song item, drama sketch, testimony, pastoral chat or a carefully prepared comment on NZ society or a world event. What about a benediction? As you know, every component of a Sunday morning service is worship not just the singing together.

And again my plea is for creativity especially for those components that are more regular like communion for example. Perhaps you could ask yourself this question? If I was sitting in the pew what would arrest my attention? or what would touch my heart? or what would leave me pondering long after the benediction? I’m sure you are catching my drift.

And finally. Please remember my friends that every person sitting in front of you and me on Sundays are giving us a tremendous gift. Their time. No one has to be there - they choose to be there. Everyone who is at church next Sunday morning has a stack of options. Therefore what we do in preparation during the week really matters.


1 The research on the The Dones confirms over and over again that boredom is right up there along with irrelevancy as reasons they have left.
2 Very few of the churches I visited were done in 75 minutes. Some went longer than 90 minutes.

Mark This Date

Catch The Kids’ is a half day children’s Ministry training day in Hamilton on Saturday 19th June, 9.00am – 1.00pm. Keynote speaker is Lois Rodler from Pirimai Baptist Church in Napier. Mark Holmen from Faith at Home will also Zoom in.

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  1. Grant Norsworthy Grant Norsworthy Thanks Alan. Good suggestions for us all! Thursday, March 25, 2021