The ability to bring dynamic worship to your church is not a great mystery. It comes from meeting the challenges that lie at the core of what congregational worship is intended to be and addressing the unhealthy predispositions and expectations we bring into the worship environment. How do we do that?
The last step in creating dynamic worship in your church is actually the first step as well: a complete and total surrounding of our worship in prayer. I know there have been so many times in my worship ministry that I have reminded myself that I must surround all aspects of worship in prayer. Surrounding worship in prayer is a multi-step activity that takes place at all intervals of the worship process.
Pray before you plan- This seems self-evident. Yet, when we are in a hurry or up against a planning deadline it is easy to drive right into the planning process and forget to consciously and actively invite God into our planning.
Pray while planning- I will often set points in my planning where I break for prayer to “reset” the line. When I am stuck for a song or action in the service I will pause to pray before I dig in to find that perfect resource. Don’t forget to celebrate in prayer when God helps you find that perfect thing you were looking for.
Pray before service- Most of us are pretty good about this one. Many of us have some sort of regular prayer routine we do with our groups prior to worship. Perhaps right at the end of pre-service rehearsal. For me, the key to this prayer is reminding ourselves for whom this worship will be presented. More than praying that we won’t forget what we have practiced, it is praying that God will make us transparent so that it is only God’s presence that is the focus of the room.
Pray during the service- Again, you probably have moments of prayer in your services. What I mean by this is dedicated prayer that happens for the worship as the service goes on. Prayer for the pastor during the sermon. Someone praying for the musicians as they sing and play. These are examples of seeking God’s blessing and will in and for our worship itself while we worship.
Pray after the service-You have a gathering prayer prior to the service with your group. Do you gather after the service to give thanks for what God has done in worship? So many times I know I have been guilty of unplugging and going home. I might say a prayer of thanks myself, but it is so much better when we all pray together once again.
Surrounding our worship in prayer assures us that God is the center of our worship because God will have been included in every part of the journey. We live in a busy culture with busy lifestyles. We must be sure that we don’t get so busy we pass on prayer in order to get to the work. Prayer is the work.
Dr. Craig Gilbert is an experienced worship leader who is passionate about all aspects of congregational worship. With a graduate degree in conducting and a “road degree” playing in bands, Craig brings a love of all musical styles to his worship planning. In his 20 years of church worship ministry Craig has served in churches of all types, sizes and worship models. He has been blessed to serve with pastors of all types as well; even a Catholic priest! Craig is the founder of the worship renewal ministry TheWorshipDoctor.com.
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Dr. Craig Gilbert, a consultant and coach fondly known as The Worship Doctor, is the founder of Purposed Heart Ministries, a worship renewal and education program for all churches. Craig 25 years as a music and worship minister working with choirs, bands, and various artistic groups while leading and designing worship in churches of all sizes and styles. Now he spends his time helping churches across the country imagine what worship could and should be in their local context and then helps them get there!