Working with a Worship Committee
Worshipping together is one of the most important things we can do as believers. The Bible gives us direction about worship: “What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.” (1 Corinthians 14:26). That last sentence is so important. Worship must be done to build the church up. When we consider that it is about the communal entity, it requires us to plan and organize differently.
In The Salvation Army context, there are three main models of leadership when it comes to worship and worship planning. They are:
There are pros and cons with each model, and a brief examination of those leads to the conclusion that planning by worship committee may be the most effective.
In the Officer Dependent model, there is single person control, and that person knows the sermon themes and meeting plan intimately. Unfortunately, this also adds extra workload to the officer and places the corps at risk if that officer should receive farewell orders. In a Leader Directed scenario, there is delegation and accountability away from the officer, but again, there is a single person in control and occasionally the agenda of the leader may not be in sync with the corps in general. A Worship Committee allows for shared accountability, increased engagement, more creativity, and teamwork. The downside, and one that plagues many churches, is that it is another committee. Given the benefits, however, it is the preferable of the three models.
As with any committee, a Worship Committee works best when there is a clear mandate. Regardless of what you choose to call it - a terms of reference, a constitution or a charter – this document is important. It will spell out things like the purpose, scope, accountability, roles and duties, and composition of membership. It can even go so far as to create subgroups such as audio/visual training, youth worship teams etc. The important thing is that there be no uncertainty as to the who, what, how, when, and why of worship in your church.
The membership of the Worship Committee is important. It can’t just be stacked with the friends of the leader. There are a few people that will be on the committee by virtue of their role. They are the officer/pastor, music leaders, and accompanists. For this group to be successful, it is important that you have congregational representation. Choose individuals that broadly represent the demographic and make-up of the congregation. They will bring an important voice to the committee.
One particular task that this group must undertake is evaluation and assessment of worship services. This is essential not because we want to put on a show or entertain but because we want to eliminate distractions from worship. These distractions can come in different forms:
Environment – lighting, temperature, sound volume, screens in focus.
Service Components – items inserted into the order of service that don’t facilitate worship or just don’t belong (think of long-winded announcements!).
Music and Gospel Arts – singable songs and keys, blend of genres and styles.
Preaching and Prayer – Scripture is presented with clear application, relevant to the congregation.
Worship – clear thematic unity, worship vs performance.
None of this evaluation is designed to be personal. It is not about the singer’s voice, or personally liking one song more than another. It is about worship and keeping a unified focus on God. The biggest success indicator is this: healthy things grow.
You may have read this and thought, my corps is too small for this. The committee doesn’t have to be large. Even if you just start with the officer, a musician, and a congregational representative or two, you may be surprised at what you can accomplish. Claim the promise of “for where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them.” (Matthew 18:20)
Article by Craig Lewis
Territorial Secretary for Music and Gospel Arts
Canada and Bermuda Territory