For many church leaders, the hour before a worship service can be lovely or ludicrous. For me, the hour before depends on the week before.
If the week before has gone well (that is, communication was efficient, people prepared their part for the service, and my heart has been regularly fed in God’s word) then the hour before is always lovely; a time to get ready for corporate worship, enjoy the company of my fellow church members, and look forward to the Spirit of God moving in worship.
If the week before has gone poorly (that is, communication was lacking, people didn’t prep their part, and I didn’t spend time privately in worship with God) then the hour before is ludicrous; rushing to make sure things are ready, feeling distant from God and the people I serve with, and wondering what’s going to go wrong instead of wondering how God’s spirit is going to move.
So, for us, how does it look lovely and what does it take to make it look ludicrous?
A lovely hour before needs this the week before:
- My pastor and I are on the same page with the service and the elements of the service are in place before our Wednesday evening rehearsal (service order, charts and pdfs for the musicians, all people in place)
- Clear communication has been made to the team (musicians, sound, video) and everyone knows when rehearsal will be and that they are expected to be there
- Rehearsal is efficient; everybody had prepped before time (including me), everybody shows up and does their job, we enjoy a time of spiritual growth together through devotion and prayer
- I’ve spent time in God’s word and worship, encouraging my team to do the same
If these things happen then the hour before looks like this:
- Pastor and I understand who is taking which part of the service and how the flow will work
- Everybody feels prepared for the service and all we need is a warm/up soundcheck, giving us ample time to pray and linger before the official worship gathering begins
- No proof-reading or last-minute changes come to the service 1/2 an hour before the service starts
- Corporate worship is a sweet continuation of worship that has happened during the week
The week before that looks like this creates a ludicrous hour before:
- I (never my pastor, because he’s much too detailed for this) forget to polish up the elements of the service. Or, I remember and just plain neglect to do it.
- I (never my pastor, because he’s much too efficient for this) don’t communicate clearly with the team.
- Rehearsal is semi-efficient because the only people that show up are the musicians. Because no sound guy shows up I have to run from the front of the church to the sound booth in order to adjust monitor settings and unmute channels. Time is wasted. Because no video person shows up nothing is proofread and we have to rush to proof during Sunday morning’s rehearsal.
- I haven’t spent time in God’s word and worship, and my soul is dry and empty, causing me to lead worship full of pretense during the morning.
If a week like that happens this is what the hour before looks like:
- Pastor and I don’t know who’s doing what or even if all of the elements of the service are present in the projection software. We rush to make sure it’s all there.
- No one feels prepared for the service and we end up having a rehearsal Sunday morning instead of a warmup, cutting the time close and not giving ourselves any margin before the service starts. Everyone feels rushed and frazzled.
- Proof-reading is attempted but often things are missed and the congregation ends up with the wrong words, or worse, no words at all on the screen.
- Corporate worship is full of stress, not a time to collectively worship God, and many distractions have the potential to hinder the congregation’s ability to worship.
Just writing this out has helped me to realize that I need to be much more proactive in making sure the week before is conducive to a lovely hour before.
What does the hour before look like for you?