It’s frightening to say, but one of the most crucial parts of the worship service is often the most neglected. It’s not the sermon, the music, or even the offering, but it’s what connects them all together. The transitions.
Nothing can be more awkward for those on the stage and in the seats than for a transition to go awry. Suddenly, in the eyes of those attending the worship service, the person speaking moves from being a spiritual guide leading others on a worship journey to a time wasting unprepared idiot.
Earlier in my ministry, I didn’t give much thought to worship transitions. In the traditional churches where I was raised, you did one thing, stopped it completely, and then moved on to the next item on the agenda. In these settings, the Pastor or Music Minister often served like a formal emcee at an evening debutante ball. If someone were singing, he would announce that person’s name and the song they were singing. Then, the announced person would act slightly surprised, stand slowly, and then dramatically walk to the podium.
What a waste of time. People don’t put up with that in today’s world unless it’s a group of children doing some type of presentation.
There are many transition times in worship, but here are some questions surrounding six major transitions of which the worship planner should be aware.
- Beginnings – How are you going to begin? Will you build momentum toward your start time, will you simply begin with a bang, or will you ease in subtly?
- Musical – What will the transitions be between the musical elements within your service? Will your songs flow together seamlessly or will you break completely between songs?
- Congregational – How will you use congregational elements to help you transition in the worship service? Will you have them greet one in the service? Will you direct them to sit or will you let them figure it out? Will you hope for or direct congregational applause following songs, videos, or speakers to help kill the dead space?
- Video – How will you use video features, bumpers, announcements, and commercials to help create smooth transitions from one element to another? Will you announce the visual elements or will you just go to it?
- Spoken – What spoken transitions will you add into your worship services to help you transition smoothly from one element to the other? Will you use a verbal announcement, a prayer, a brief monologue, or a spoken word in these times?
- Endings – How are you going to end your service? Will you build to a climax and let everyone out with a bang? Will you end with ongoing prayer and altar ministry and allow everyone to leave as they desire?
It may seem trivial to give major focus to transitional items such as these. Shouldn’t we just focus on the content of the main parts of the service and wing it in between?
Not at all.
Charles Dickens once wrote, “There is surely something charming in seeing the smallest things done so thoroughly.” He was writing about a button. Shouldn’t the same be said of our worship services?