To successfully transition a church’s worship, there must be a clear, understandable vision that is placed before the people. And with that, as leaders, we MUST know clearly where we are going. So often, churches that encounter worship wars do so because the leadership begins making changes without casting a vision of why the changes are being made. Tom Kraeuter says it well in his book, Guiding Your Church Through a Worship Transition:

In churches that have a clearly defined and frequently articulated vision, there is almost always more sense of purpose. The peole are more involved and feel as though what they are doing counts for something bigger than their own little lives.

Without vision the church becomes simply a bless-me club. All we think about is our church. We want the services to be enjoyable to us. No thought is given to reaching the lost and others God might be drawing to our congregation. The whole picture becomes focus on me….

If we as leaders have not given our flock a vision, how could we expect them to focus outside of themselves?

As I have considered the process, I would summarize these important steps to successfully inculcating the vision of worship renewal in your church:

  1. Pray and seek God’s heart for His vision for your church’s corporate worship times. Be sure this is God’s desire for your church, not just a desire to be like the church down the street.
  2. Determine clearly what that vision looks like, taking into consideration more than just musical styles. How do we dress? What does the platform look like? What is the role of the choir? What instrumentation will we use? What should the pulpit look like? If we have a choir, what will they wear? How do we utilize video? How do we utilize lighting? How will we encourage congregational participation in worship? There are so many things to consider here, and all of this should be very clear in the heads of the leaders.
  3. Be able to clearly articulate the why of all the change. Is it related to a missional mindset? Is it following the commands of Scripture? Does it come from a clear direction from God?
  4. Cast the vision CLEARLY to the congregation, helping them understand the reasons for the change and the clear goals that are before them. This will help people get beyond personal preferences and help them focus on a unified goal. This can involve sermons on the issue, documents with the vision and plan clearly laid out, informal conversations with key influencers, discussion groups, etc.
  5. Be sure your leadership is unified in where they are heading. Dissension among leadership ranks can lead to some bad conflict and a possible derailing of the vision.
  6. Teach on worship. Help the people understand the biblical basis of worship. Once they “get it,” the change will come much easier.
  7. Pray some more. Pray for your congregation and the leadership that the transition will be a growing time for the church as they learn more about worship and the heart of God. Pray that God will be lifted up and Satan would have no foothold in this process.

I want to leave you with another quote from Kraeuter’s book:

One pastor made a statement I never considered before: “Whenever the church is making any kind of transition and things don’t go well–people are unsupportive, they refuse to budge from where they’ve been, they don’t seem to grasp where we’re headed–it is usually a leadership problem” I realized he is correct. In general, the failures that I have encountered in churches have usually been because leaders had not done a good job of communicating the vision. And when a church has become inwardly focused because it has no vision, it is in a dangerous place.

As church leaders, the success of a worship transition largely rests on how well we see and communicate the vision. Much to ponder.

I encourage you to share stories–both successful and not successful of how change has occurred in your church.