When in Doubt, Don’t

Chris  —  June 21, 2012 — 2 Comments
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Ever been to a paint store?

In it, there are tons of color swatches of every imaginable color and some you’ve never imagined. It’s easy to get caught up in all the creative color choices and walk out with a whole bunch of great colors that really aren’t applicable to the project you’re working on.

I may really like that amazing deep shade of blue, but it won’t work if the room is small or it is built on purples and greens.

So many choices can be inspiring, but sometimes you’ve got to draw the line. The color(s) you choose to paint with has to, in the end, enhance and contribute to the look you’re going for.

The same is true for worship services.

For every worship service that is planned, there are lots of choices.

Choices in:

–       songs

–       videos

–       scriptures

–       flow

–       creative elements

–       visuals

–       lighting

–       wonder

Even after you’ve done due diligence with your service planning process questions, it can be hard to choose and weigh out what’s best. We may be drawn to certain elements because we personally like them. There most likely will be a variety of input and opinions depending on the size of your planning team.

There could be lots of good options. Your service planning worksheet can be full of ideas.

So, how do you narrow it down?

There’s a phrase that I think is helpful. Someone with a whole lot more years of life and ministry than me said it.

“When in doubt, don’t.”

If you’re not sure about using something, no matter how great, creative, or personally invested you are in it, don’t do it. This isn’t because it’s bad or sinful. Hopefully those things have already been weeded out.

There’s limited time in each worship service. We hopefully are working to create intentional environments for people to hear, remember, and respond to the truth and presence of God. Not everything can or will accomplish what God wants in the life of the congregation. Not everything will be appropriate for the people present.

I can think back to my own experiences of having a doubt about something, but allowing it to happen anyway. While nothing has ever totally derailed a service (probably more due to God’s faithfulness and presence than anything else), those elements ended up proving to be less impactful than was expected. I’ve also had stuff end up not being included because of other leader’s doubts, and the service ended up being better for it.

Realize this isn’t an excuse not to do creative things. I’m not talking about doubt because you’re afraid of what a certain person may say. Or the doubt that often comes with doing something different.

Ultimately, it comes down to listening. You may think of it as the voice in your head or that feeling in your gut. In reality, it hopefully is the voice of the Holy Spirit leading and guiding you because you’ve nurtured your relationship with God and learned to listen.

Don’t be afraid to lead in the role that God has placed you. You have been given a leadership and pastoral responsibility to point people to Christ.

So, if you’re doubtful something will help that to happen, don’t do it.

For Discussion:
Have you ever included an element against your better judgment in a service, and it didn’t work out so well? Share you experience in the comments.


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2 responses to When in Doubt, Don’t

  1. Very good post, thank you. I esp. like your advice: “When in doubt, don’t.” How many churches have been negatively impacted b/c they sought to be creative rather than focusing on the spirit of worship?

    I’ve not posted much new stuff lately, but I do have something up about worship right now.

    Good blog. I’m sure I’ll be back to visit. (Note: I linked here from your wife’s blog, and linked there from one we both follow).


    • Warren, thanks for stopping by and commenting. It’s true that there are churches that lose the spirit of worship for the sake of creativity, but there are also ones that squelch creative expression because of fear. It’s a tension to be managed by godly people. Part of that is understanding context and listening to the leading of God. Thanks for the encouragement. Hope to see you here again.

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