For several years I spent at least half of my employable time concentrating on worship design. I led a team of people who designed three services a week for several hundred people. Music styles, preachers and other pieces in the service would change daily and sometimes at a moments notice. With multiple streams running, we had to stay on our toes.

It was during this time I began understanding how hard a task this was. As I branched out and would help other ministries and churches design and lead worship I learned one word was more important than anything else.

The most important word in worship design is context.

Who are you leading in worship? What is the culture? Are these people thoroughly churched or at the edges of faith? What are the spiritual emphasis and mission of the congregation? Is this a parachute drop service or part of a larger theme?

These are all important questions to ask.

When we are so immersed in conversations about worship, whether we are musicians, dancers, preachers or techs, it is easy to forget their is purpose in our design. We can get fascinated with minute details. If you don’t believe me, check out how meticulous worship musicians can be over seemingly non-essential pieces of gear, like guitar cables, amp cases or how to mount your effects pedals!

We can’t forget each gathering will have a unique group of people who need to be led in worship in a unique way! What might work well in another situation will be completely foreign in others. It could be said that the sister word to context should be flexibility. Part of the growth in worship leadership is learning how our decisions affect those we lead in worship. Are our ideas working?!!!

The bottom line is we need to be aware that the decisions we make are in genuine interest of the context of the worship service and how it will serve to bring people to Jesus. Our own personal opinions sometimes will need to be out of the conversation. As I adapt in leading my own congregation each week I see things that I need to change, and me alone. As worship leaders (and I use that phrase broadly) we need to always be investigating how (and are) we best interpreting what will draw our friends deeper into a life changing relationship with Jesus.

What tough changes have you yourself had to make in the last 6 months?