Creative worship service planning is a difficult and imperfect process. It takes trust. It takes a balance between the comfortable and the unexpected. It takes the understanding that the (very) different people that God has created react to to service elements in (very) different ways…
I make no claim to have worship service planning figured out. I fairly regularly include elements in our services that are found to be less than stellar in our service review process. I have found that what works best (again, as best as I can tell) for our services is to change things up every week. Not in radical ways – we have our liturgy, of sorts – but in look, feel, and – most of all – creative elements.
This takes a lot of brainstorming. The best brainstorming comes in a team setting. The variety of ideas matches the variety within the congregation. The the mindset of those involved in the brainstorming sessions is of critical importance. You see, the problem comes when people get locked in to a certain idea early on in the process – it blocks any further idea generation. In all honesty, I believe that this is usually because of ego – each person wants his or her idea used, so, once an idea comes to mind, the focus shifts to getting that idea used, rather than coming up with more (and often better) ideas.
The solution? There is no easy one! But here’s a couple of ideas:
1. Instead of asking each person for an idea, ask them for five. That forces the mind into considering alternate points of view.
2. Ask the team member to come up with an idea that is in some ways the opposite of their current idea, but which might still work.
3. Have each person write down their idea on a sheet of paper, and then pass it to the next person, who will amend or adjust it in some way. Than pass it on to the next person, etc… Each person has at least somewhat ownership in every idea through this process.