Preparing the Congregation
If congregations would gather prepared for corporate worship each week, our times would be much more meaningful. As a worship leader, I realize that people sing best when they sing songs they know. I also know that personal worship is a prerequisite to corporate worship–private times of daily worship are so important to corporate worship. To help them prepare for worship, I want to encourage personal worship during the week, and I want to give them tools to prepare for the congregational singing (help them get familiar with the congregational songs) and the message.Many churches are publishing materials (online and/or hard copies) to help their congregations prepare personally and as a family for worship each week. Here are some ideas that can prompt your thinking in how to best help your congregation:
This is your opportunity to pour into the lives of your church members in helping prepare them for worship each week. There are many components that can be helpful in your distribution piece. Be careful not to make it too complex as to make people feel it will take too much time to engage. Worship is a key element of the discipleship process. Include components such as these in your distribution piece:
- Sermon prep. Give the scripture passage and some information to help people prepare for what will be presented in the sermon.
- Prayer points. Give specific prayer points that will help people prepare their hearts for worship and lift up those planning and leading the times of worship.
- Songs of worship. You may include YouTube links to the songs, especially those that show the lyrics so your congregation can worship with the songs during the week. Perhaps target the songs that may be lesser known. You might include a brief devotional related to the text of one of the songs as well. You could also include links to Amazon or iTunes for members to download songs they want to put on their media players.
- Follow up. You may include questions and additional commentary for people to consider after the morning worship service to continue their engagement with God’s Word for the day.
- Family worship cues. Create some family worship encounters that bring all generations together around the same truths. If your church uses a Sunday School curriculum such as the Gospel Project, that will provide material for this section. Otherwise, you can create material especially for family worship times related to the weekly emphasis.
Your prep piece can be distributed several ways. You may find one or more of these will serve your congregation best. I find a multi-faceted approach to be most effective.
- Online content. Prepare a web page with the weekly information that is readily accessible to various online platforms.
- Downloadable/printable PDF. Prepare a nice looking one or two page prep sheet for families to print out or view online.
- Email. Consider weekly and/or daily emails with content for the week.
- Social Media. Use Facebook, Twitter, and other social media avenues to connect the content with your people during the week.
- Printed handout. Distribute the material at your corporate worship service for the coming week’s content. (This method alone, of course misses out on all who do not attend that week.)
I came across a church in Texas that I thought was going a great job with one format of this–MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irving Texas. They publish a weekly PDF online for their church that contains:
The Bible passage(s) to be preached the coming Sunday are offered for individuals and families to prayerfully read through and prepare themselves to hear God’s word.
Responding to Worship
This section is to be reviewed after the Sunday sermon. It is a series of “Truth and Response” questions that are prayerfully and thoughtfully prepared to help you apply the sermon to your life.
A link is provided to resources for families that encourage discussion about the Lord.
Here is a sample of one of their recent documents.
Taking the time to produce this type of worship prep may bring you great dividends in creating worshipping disciples.
What ideas do you have for helping your church prepare for worship throughout the week?
In my current interim worship leader position, I am doing a few things to help our congregation in this area:
- I have a website that each week gives information about the sermon and provides a video with lyrics of every congregational song. The site also has links to many devotional sites for our congregation’s use.
- I post regularly to our church’s Facebook page with links to the worship prep site with encouragement to prepare for worship.
- I embed new song videos with lyrics on the Facebook page.
- I include prayer prompts for worship on the church Facebook page.
- A weekly email goes to the church members a copy of the church bulletin, including the songs we will sing. There is a URL given with encouragement for the congregation to go to the worship prep website to better prepare for worship.
- The bulletin and on-screen announcements promote the webpage for worship prep.
Each church is unique and how you can best prepare your congregation should be tailored to meet your congregation’s needs.
What are you doing to help your congregation be prepared for worship?
Here’s an overview of this series (see the intro here):
- Planning the worship service. We will look at everything from sitting down with your pastor and exploring upcoming sermon concepts to choosing appropriate congregational and presentational music. We discuss how to find creative elements to infuse in the service and ways to organize your plan for best implementation.
- Preparing the choir. Once songs are selected, how do we get the most out of our choirs/vocal teams to prepare them to be amazing worship leaders? How can we help them be successful? We talk about rehearsal planning and implementation, practice tracks, discipleship, and much more.
- Preparing the band. We will deal with scheduling issues, technologies to assist you, band charts, mp3s, rehearsals, and more.
- Preparing the media. How can our media enhance the worship service? How do we conceptualize and implement what will show on the screens in our church?
- Preparing the congregation. This part is so often overlooked. How do we help our congregations personally prepare for our times of corporate worship? This can be a huge benefit for corporate worship when our people are adequately prepared.
- Preparing personally for worship. How do you as a worship leader personally prepare for the corporate worship service? This can make a powerful impact on your leadership.
- Corporate worship! How do we implement all that we have prepared for?