I am a big fan of planning ahead when it comes to worship services. I believe it makes it easier to be creative, thematic, and intentional in communicating truth and providing an intentional environment that allows people to worship all of who God is with all of who they are.
There are lots of different approaches and opinions on planning ahead. Right off the bat, I’ll say that planning apart from the leading of the Holy Spirit is foolish. The risk becomes too great that we are doing nothing more than creating a great show. But, it is also not more spiritual to just fly by the seat of your pants and hope that God makes something happen. God has given us (pastors, worship leaders, creatives, etc) gifts and abilities that He expects us to use for the benefit of the Body. Coordination takes preparation.
Recently, Tony Morgan offered a great mini-series of articles on service planning, the value of it, and some tips and ideas.
Are these the only way? Of course not. But it’s a great starting part if you aren’t doing much in this area yet. Take a look, incorporate what you can well right now, and move forward. If you aren’t doing any planning, you probably aren’t going to do all these suggestions at once. But what could you begin to implement and work toward?
I want to share with you the resource I use for advance planning. Sometimes service planning can feel like a juggling act with all the different things to keep track of and in play. Because of this, I developed a resource over a number of years based on input from a variety of sources. I call it the Service Planning Worksheet.
I use it by creating an Excel file for each calendar year. In this file, I create a separate page for each week based off the template. Then, based on the information on series and other events, I begin to fill in the information:
- series info, topics, big ideas, and main points.
- info about special service aspects and when things like communion or dedications may be happening
- ideas for creative elements, videos, or songs
- ideas for supporting Scriptures, readings, or prayers
- anything else that might have relevance
Then when it comes time to plan, each person participating will get a copy, and we will develop a service order with the appropriate elements.
Not only does this help us to not forget stuff, but it also serves as a great archive of past services. It also alleviates having to keep track of 20 post-it notes, scraps of paper, and emails when planning.
Feel free to download, adapt, and use this form as fits your settings. There is both a PDF and XLS version.
PDF Version: Download
XLS Version: Download
What does planning look like in your setting?
I had a suggestion to include a few examples of completed sheets. That’s a great idea, so here are three Service Planning Worksheets as I used them: