A Short Guide To Planning Services

Every church is different, and it’s important that you are sensitive to the needs and expectations of your congregation when you start to plan services. There is space for creativity and innovation in service planning, but make sure that your aim is always to serve the congregation in their Christian walks. When it comes to planning services, here are three key points to remember to help you point your congregations to Christ.

  1. The service should tell the story of the gospel
    Whether your church has formal liturgy, or open prayers, construct the service in a way that tells the story of the gospel, so that no visitor or non-believer could come away thinking that God is only a God of judgement, or only a God of peace. Think about when and where you do things like confession, prayer. Do your songs help the congregation to engage their hearts with the truths being preached that week? For more on song selection, see our song selection guide. Every item in your service, from the sermon to communion, is there to help the congregation dwell on the glory of their God, so consider everything in light of that. 
  2. The service should be sensitive to the context and culture of the congregation
    God blessing his church, through the building up of his people, through his word, is what church is all about. So, think about how your congregation are doing when you plan your service. If you know that lots of people in the congregation are struggling, or there has been significant global issue, for example, you don’t want people to feel as though they are to ‘set aside’ their lives, fears and concerns when they come to church. God is interested in every part of his children’s lives, and we should be careful of making people feel, through the structure of our services, that this isn’t the case. Equally, there may be times and sermons which call for services of thanksgiving, and you should build this into the service as a whole. It’s also important to be sensitive to what the congregation is used to, and prepare them well for changes to usual structures.
  3. The service should be sensitive towards non-believers
    In 1 Corinthians, Paul reminds believers that we are to be aware of newcomers in our gatherings, and ensure that nothing we do causes them to stumble on their road to coming to Christ. Make sure that there is clear direction and instruction, and that explanations are given even for things that may seem obvious to regular church-goers. 

Church services should be God-centred, congregation-sensitive, and open to all. In every decision you make, whether in the song choices, or the use of liturgy, remember these aims. And be open to changes where your church leaders, or congregation members feel that things could be done better.

There is a lot more to say about effective planning of services, and Emu Music has a six part course to help train you and your music team in all aspects of music ministry. Find out more at wordinsong.com