Screen shot 2013-08-15 at 2.02.49 AMI mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, but wanted to give more detail. We recently made some changes to our worship order and I wanted to share the story with you. We’re now about three weeks into these new changes and I feel like I’m finally able to assess what got us here and what we’re learning in the process.

I, like the religious forefathers of author Garrison Keillor, “don’t go in for show.” I get skittish when church things start feeling a little too much like performance. But here’s what I know – we came to these changes sincerely (and prayerfully!) and they seem to be working so far. (Plus we can always go back to the old grumpy-worship-leader-way if we don’t like it.)

Making any kind of change to corporate worship is a big deal and often involves a lot of moving parts. Instead of cramming the whole story into one posts, I’m gonna’ break it up thematically. We can’t have your reading blogs all day, you know. You got work to do!

This little mini-series will run for the next three days and hopefully will clearly communicate what we’re doing and why.

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Over the past year, I had come into contact with some really great churches. Naturally, I’ve been interested in the role corporate worship plays in these seemingly healthy, vibrant churches. And I started noticing a few things.

  • FEWER SONGS. I noticed that many of the churches I was observing were doing at least 1-2 songs less than we do at Bethel. Granted, corporate worship times vary from church to church, but I was surprised to see churches doing only 4 songs each week. That perplexed me.
  • LESS TALKING.  I come from the Bob Kauflin school of worship leading: teach-as-you-lead! And yet, I kept seeing all these worship leaders crafting their sets to prioritize those “teaching moments” instead of packing them in between each song.
  • SMOOTH ORDER. I like flow-of-worship, but I don’t think all the songs have to be in one giant block for God to work. (That would be crazy and idolatrous to believe that.) However, I noticed that churches were being much more creative with where they placed prayers and announcements and emphasis moments.

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I began to wonder if our Sunday morning might need a little changing. As I thought more about it, I realized that a revised worship order might be a great fit for some of the recent developments in our church.

  • NEW SEASON. Fall for us, as for many churches, is a busy time. We see a lot of folks coming back to church as well as tons of new faces. We typically try to refresh our look or vibe each fall and a new worship order felt like a natural thing to try.
  • KILL (OR MAIM) THE GREETING. Our people hate the turn-and-greet-each-other thing. I’m not sure why. A new worship order would give us a chance to minimize that tradition just a little bit. We could shorten it and keep it a bit more casual (instead of demanding people fellowship with each other!)
  • ANNOUNCEMENT VIDEOS. Over the past six months, our communications guy has been producing announcement videos every single week. And they’re good. This is not some youth guy with a camcorder trying to be funny…these are professionally shot and edited, clear, informative videos that run in our service. Something like this provides a great transitional element is a shorter, more connected set.
  • NEW DRUMMER. Since our previous drummer had left, we asked our aux percussion guy to step up and take over drums. He gladly did and is doing a fantastic job. However, he’s a night nurse and doesn’t have time for a mid-week rehearsal every single week. Pulling back on the number of songs would amp up the quality of his playing and prep time.
  • SERMON LENGTH. I don’t want to say we “fight” about sermon length among the pastors…it’s more of a “discussion.” Adopting a new worship order would give us some wiggle room and allow our pastors the freedom to speak without fearing mean glances from the worship leader!


Tomorrow, I’ll tell you what exactly we changed. As it turned out, it ended up being way more work than I anticipated!

Anybody else doing anything new/different at church when Fall rolls around?



  1. Johnny Simmons

    Please don’t go with fewer songs. I play places where they’ll only sing 4 songs! In contrast, Holy Trinity sings 7-8 songs congregationally with a prelude, offertory, and postlude. We also sing a lot of the responses. And we are trying to figure out how to sing MORE! Some Churches sing pretty much everything but the sermon!


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