There is a lot of debate and disagreement surrounding the topic of preparation for worship services. Some say to plan, prepare, practice, and be ready to smoothly navigate the worship service when the time comes, and others insist that planning or preparing removes God from the equation.
So in response to this debate I would like to share my reasons for why I choose to prepare in advance for worship service.
First, I ask the question, when should we ever approach anything unprepared?
Outside of church and ministry, would you approach your job, an event, a meeting, or anything important without planning and preparing in advance?
Hopefully, the answer to that is no.
Why would we approach the precious and important task of leading a congregation in worship and entering into the throne room of God with less thought and preparation than we would in other areas of our lives?
The Bible refers to bringing a sacrifice of praise into the House of the Lord. (Hebrews 13:15) From the story of Cain and Abel, we understand that God had specific instructions for what that sacrifice should be, and throughout the remainder of the Old Testament we read verse after verse of instruction on how to prepare the sacrifice before offering it.
There was planning and preparation involved.
Praise is also often referred to as a weapon of spiritual warfare. 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 tells us that we are fighting a spiritual battle and our weapons are not carnal.
We can read examples in both the Old and New Testaments of singing, praise, and worship being used in battle to bring victory.
In 2 Chronicles 20 we find the singers being put out in front of the army to say, Praise the Lord for His mercy endures forever. I don’t think the singers waited until they were on the battlefield facing an opposing army before deciding what to sing. They were prepared. They new what God wanted and they had a plan.
When they began to sing and praise, God performed a mighty act and they were victorious.
Anytime an army is faced with a battle, the leaders are preparing and planning in an effort to win.
Should we be any less diligent as we prepare for spiritual warfare? Why not plan our approach and strengthen our offense?
Another way to look at it is that leading praise and worship is a ministry of the church. Every other ministry of the church must be organized and prepare in advance. Sunday school teachers have a quarterly plan, and your pastor even prays and seeks God prior to the service for a word to preach to the congregation.
Why should the music ministry be any different?
Myth Buster: You do not have to plan God out of the service!
I admit that some people can and do plan God out of the service, but a lack of planning and preparation can hinder God from moving in your service as well. It goes both ways.
The important factor here is to seek God when planning your worship set and then be flexible if He decides to interrupt or change things up!
I can just as easily pray and get direction from God 3 days or a week prior to the service. I’ve had God change the set the day before the service, and I’ve had Him completely interrupt the plan during the service.
That is MORE than OK!
However, most of the time God has moved in a mighty way as we followed the plan and were able to smoothing navigate throughout the worship service without distracting stops and starts or other hiccups that can often accompany a lack of preparation.
Maybe we should look at our worship service a little differently.
We are not planning to get a response out of people or manipulate the service in any way. Instead, we are preparing to enter into the presence of the King. He has told us how to enter in, with thanksgiving and praise (Psalm 100:4), and we are heeding his instruction, seeking His direction, and forming a plan that will be pleasing to Him and allow us access to His presence.
I want to show God that because He called me to be a music director and worship leader, it is a responsibility I don’t take lightly. I’m going to invest my time and thought and prayer into planning and practicing in order to do and present my best.
That’s why I choose to prepare.
The music department is generally made up of emotional, opinionated, and even quirky people.
I know, because I am one!
That being said, it can seem like a difficult task to try and get everyone on the same page. You know… in one mind and one accord!
Probably the most memorable example of unity is on the day of Pentecost. The group waiting on the promise had dwindled down to 120.
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
The words to a familiar song are running through my head today.
When the music fades
and all is stripped away
and I simply come…
And this one…
You can sing all you want to
and still get it wrong
worship is more than a song.
It is so important to step away from the music at times and take a look at yourself, at what worship is, and at where you’re at in your relationship with God.
Check out this video of my rehearsal with Texas Bible College for the live recording.