Creative worship—the act of intentionally promoting better focus upon God—doesn’t just happen. How can you enhance creative worship in your services, and thus exalt God? Through variety.
Do not be afraid of variety.
When an ordinary routine is interrupted, we tend to perk up and become more alert. Routine is, by definition, predictable. Predictability may cause us to tune out mentally, and thus not be attentive during the worship service. Using variety is a way to increase attentiveness. Variety in worship does not equal heresy, insofar as any variation is in keeping with Scriptural worship. Here are some suggestions for introducing variety into your worship, and thus helping people to better focus upon God.
Variety in electronic media.
With the effusion of technology, there are many options when it comes to electronic media. If you have not begun using a data projection system, you may want to consider this. With data projection, you can use worship videos, worship backgrounds, and PowerPoint visual aids in your worship.
Variety in order of events.
Does your church have a regular order of worship? There is nothing wrong with order in a service. God has instructed us to worship in an orderly fashion (1 Cor. 14:40) but this does not mean that is it unscriptural to alter the order of service that is customarily printed in the bulletin. Rather than begin with two songs and the announcements, why not begin with a time of corporate, silent prayer, asking God for his blessing upon the worship? Instead of having Sunday School first, you might find it better to have corporate worship first, followed by Sunday School.
Variety in time of worship.
Every Sunday morning at 11am, thousands of worshippers all across the nation gather in churches for the Sunday morning worship. Somehow, the 11am Sunday hour (or whatever time your church begins) is as sacred as a cow in a New Dehli street. Don’t touch it. Don’t move it. Don’t bother it. Why not? Obviously, there is nothing wrong with regularity in service times, but could you implement an early afternoon service? Would you consider holding an early morning service for an extended time of prayer and meditation.
Variety in length of worship.
Sermons have become clock-watching events. Any practiced preacher knows that transgressing the sacrosanct ending time is tantamount to crossing the fault line in a bowling alley. Even if the sermon was a humdinger, its effect is canceled because he slipped past 12:00 noon. Perhaps variety is okay, though. Long doesn’t mean boring. Short doesn’t necessarily mean cheap. Variety may actually be an advantage.
Variety in content of worship.
If you have found that your worship is a rote pattern—the same elements, the same way, week-after-week—then introducing fresh content can be helpful. Many churches do not have an extended time of Scripture reading, although this is a biblical practice. Corporate prayer has gone the way of the dinosaurs in other churches. Some churches have longer time of singing than they do of listening to the teaching of the Word. Try altering the content gradually in such a way that it improves focus upon God.
Variety in location of worship.
While we’re thinking outside the box, why not think outside the brick-and-mortar building, too? The “church” is not the building. The church are the believers. Some churches have successfully introduced outdoor services. Other churches have used different worship locations to increase the reverence or impact of the service. Use caution, but use creativity and see how it could improve the worship.
Variety in music.
How do you enhance the worship atmosphere during the time of music? Not by cranking the volume higher or by hiring more talented performers. Perhaps to enhance the worship atmosphere, turning the volume down or clearing the platform of trapsets and wires would be more beneficial. Does your congregation actual sing themselves or do they simply raise their hands and watch performers on the stage? Does your church consistently sing “the first, the second, and the last stanzas” of 150-year old hymns? There is nothing wrong with that, per se, but the predictability and routine of these practices can morph into a mind-numbing rut. Rather than focus upon the content of the songs or upon the God they are worshipping, people may just be mouthing the words of songs that they have sung hundreds of times before. Use variety. Select new, Scriptural songs. Introduce fresh, worshipful styles.
Variety is a two-edged sword. While it can enhance focus upon God, it may also distract. The delicate balance between focus and distraction is not easy to achieve. Gradual changes, rather than sweeping revolutions, are best. Most importantly, keep God at the center of any variety that you introduce. True worship, meaningful worship, real worship—is focusing upon God, not upon any changes that we might introduce.