Compelling Choreography

Brian Bauknight



Apart from any political implications, I was impressed with the detailed flow and connectedness of the DNC last week.  The RNC was coordinated also, but the DNC seemed almost flawless and precise as it unfolded from introductory video to speaker to the “next item” on the agenda.  From lowered lights to video to spotlight—even the technology seemed extraordinarily well planned and expertly orchestrated.
Someone or some group had put exceptional work into each movement and each detail of the convention.
The point being….How much planning and careful thought goes into our worship planning from week to week?  Is the theme and flow of worship carefully thought out?  Is care and attention paid to the selection of hymns and music and prayers?  Is the title of the sermon or message given some real attention?  And is the whole hour intentionally life-related and hope-filled?

Much of what we often call “contemporary” worship has some of these planning elements operative.  A team of people usually meet regularly to discern the flow of the upcoming worship.  But what about the more traditional forms of worship?  Or is the latter format more a matter of a quickly assembled list of hymns, a ‘collect’ for the day from a book of prayers, an anthem that the choir can easily present, and a sermon without a title to arouse any curiosity or expectation?  Are there awkward “dead” spaces in the worship hour?
Robert Schuller (of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, CA) often taught that there should be little or no “dead time” in worship.  He believed that the people needed to be fully engaged and involved from beginning to end.   And that worship leaders should be fully apprised of every movement and timing in effective worship
Is there room in worship for the Holy Spirit, for spontaneity?  Of course! 

I remember an African American preacher who began his service one Sunday with this prayer: “Lord, let something happen in this service today that is NOT in the bulletin!”
During most of the last 20 years of my local church leadership, I submitted to the others involved in worship an overview of my preaching texts and themes at least six weeks ahead—my message, a sentence or two about where I thought that message was headed, and the related Scripture.  We then met for an hour each Tuesday afternoon to ‘plan’ the service scheduled for 12 days ahead.  We tried to be aware of additional elements in that service (a baptism, a special recognition, a special offering) and what we hoped to bring to the worshipping experience that day.
Compelling and careful choreography in worship planning brings hope, engagement, and relational power to the weekly gathering of the community of believers. 


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