by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 11/11/15.
In the popular leadership exercise on “Worship & A Leadership Exercise to Untangle Worship Controversies” I’ve noticed that worship disasters often result from:
- lack of preparation,
- lack of understanding (of a different culture),
- and/or lack of focus (i.e. the goal of connect people through worship, to God with resultant evangelism).
Thus, here a few thoughts from the professor.
1. Encourage your people to take more time than you think you need to prepare for worship events. This means more time in prayer, practice and evaluation in addition to preparation. Often people think that “If we provide it they will come.” And they are right, if we provide an “authentic connection” with God, they will come. But often our connection is weak or distorted. It is like that mobile phone company commercial that intones, “How many bars do you have?” Thus, we need to make sure our connections are strong and static free before we try to link people up.
2. Next, ensure that your leaders fully understand the group they are reaching out to via your worship expression. This is why in the textbook I suggest having different worship committees, over varying worship expressions. The purpose for this is to ensure that indigenous worship expressions develop. In addition, help those involved in worship to understand how divisive this subject can be. This is because it deals with something very personal: a persons connection I with God. And, few people want that connection severed or damaged. As I mentioned in an earlier posting this has to do with an understanding of the nexus between Christ and culture. Remember, this means we must “sift” culture, judging some elements and affirming others, with the goal the transformation of the whole. That is why I have found some of the best people to get involved in cross-cultural ministries and strategy teams are missionaries. They are trained in the regimens and procedures of (as Dr. McGavran would say) “building bridges” to other cultures over which the Good News can travel.
3. And finally, don’t forget that the goal of worship is to encounter God. It is like it says in Good to Great, get the “right person on the bus.” Instead … get the right goal on board. In addition, for some people this worship experience can be a cathartic event in their life’s focus, and thus worship can be a powerful conduit for evangelism. Always be prepared to encounter this, with incorporation strategies ready.
Thus, worship disasters provide us a framework through which to see alternative courses of action, parallel outcomes, and adjusts to strategy. Don’t forget to analyze your failures as well as your successes! Sometimes the former are more revealing .