Over the past 20 years I have planned more than 800 weekend church services. Many of those have been planned with a team of people who play a part in the execution of the services.
While planning services with a team can be far more complicated than planning them on my own, the end result of the group effort is always more creative and vibrant than the solo effort.
Creativity has always been a value for me in crafting Sunday experiences that will motivate Jesus-followers in their faith and challenge pre-Christians to have faith. I look at each Sunday morning as a 70 minute canvas on which we spread out the truth about Jesus in a way that invites the viewer to not just view but to experience God.
Here are a few thoughts and practices for for crafting Sunday services as a team-based process.
If you are going to pull together a team of people to contribute ideas and to perform responsibilities, make it worth their while by creating a series of Sundays built around the same theme.
I teach in series format with most lasting from 4-6 weeks. Approximately 5 weeks prior to the start of a series we gather of 6-8 people which always includes the teaching pastor, the worship leader, a representative of the worship team and at least two other people who may be ministry leaders or church members with life experience that will bring insight into the particular teaching subject.
The first time we meet together will be a brainstorming session in which the teaching pastor casts vision and perhaps provides a loose outline for the series. The team members then take that material and simply discuss "possibilities." No area of discussion is off-limits. We discuss scripture, songs, drama, tv shows, books, news, life experiences; anything that might even remotely connect to the topic. We talk about every area of our Sunday experience from the parking lot to the closing prayer and how each moment of the Sunday experience could be enhanced to point toward the ultimate teaching goal for that week.
That session ends with many, many ideas but no action plans.
2-3 weeks later the team meets again, this time to craft each individual service during the series. The session usually begins with team members sharing additional thoughts or ideas that they may have discovered since the previous session. They might share songs, show video clips or read book excerpts. Then the team, under direction of the teaching pastor (who has final say and ultimate veto power), pieces each Sunday service together selecting each element for each week including the worship songs and all special elements such as personal faith stories, video, giveaways, food at the hospitality center; you name it. At the end of that session all the key elements are in place and the order of the services is established. This gives the music, marketing, video and hospitality teams time to prepare their parts for the series.
When we meet for our planning sessions we have a few rules that we work by:
Brainstorming Session Rules
Service-Crafting Session Rules
Most of these ideas and structures were either cherry-picked from other churches utilizing a creative team approach for weekend service planning, or we simply arrived at them through trial and error. Ultimately, we have found that having a variety of voices and experiences around the table has given our teaching a more powerful punch and a greater level of energy to our services as a whole.
I pray you find these tips to be helpful and that you and your team can plan some amazing services together!
Bart Blair is the founder of Make More Discisples. He has more than 20 years in corporate, church and non-profit leadership experience. Bart lives in Frisco, Texas with his family where he serves as a Church Growth Consultant and Strategist.
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