If you’ve opened this book, you probably are at least intrigued by the idea of experiential worship. You may be an enthusiastic advocate of this form of worship and are just looking for new ideas. That’s great! Jump in and use whatever you think will work in your setting.
However, you may be uncertain of what experiential worship is. So first, a definition (keep in mind that this is a definition, not necessarily an authoritative one): Experiential worship engages people in some type of experience that makes them think or evokes an emotion and leads them to consider how God might want to work in their lives. Obviously, the word experience is key in this definition. An experience engages people through a variety of senses. An experience can be surprising; in fact, it can shock people into a response.
In the past, the church has worked hard to avoid surprises and shocks in worship. We’ve tried not to ruffle feathers and have made our services predictable so as to avoid any discomfort on the part of pew sitters. We have rationally explained the gospel message, and many have responded in faith. A rational exposition of Scripture is not a bad thing!
However, our world has changed. To most people, predictable means boring, ineffective, a waste of time. People in our culture value adventure. Mystery is the opposite of predictable and, therefore, is intriguing. People coming to church today are more interested in the mystery of our faith than people have been for perhaps hundreds of years. They’re more interested in experiencing something of God than hearing a logical threepoint sermon with two illustrations and an application at the end. They’re likely to get more out of a five-minute experience that connects them with God than from a 45-minute sermon.
Experiential worship connects people with God in ways that sermons alone can’t. It draws people in and creates an opportunity for God to work within their hearts and minds. It creates starting points that can lead to conversations that further people on their journeys toward or with God. It’s a tool God is using to reach people for his kingdom in our world today.
Within the pages of Engaging Worship are complete worship plans for experiential worship services. Use these plans however you want. If you feel that a worship plan will fit your community and your purpose as written, feel free to use it that way. More likely, you’ll find a worship plan that you’d like to adapt to better fit your church. Adapt away! Just don’t omit all the experiential parts because you think they’re too hard or too risky. The experiences are the elements that will help your service connect with more people than ever before.
If you’ve never done anything very experiential in your church, enter into this form of worship with enthusiasm, and expect people to respond positively. Your attitude, demeanor, and level of enthusiasm will have a big impact on how well your people accept something different.
Give God a chance to work through experiential worship in your church. You may be surprised by the results!
Adapt the blueprints to your setting. The Worship Blueprints in Engaging Worship are designed to be adapted to a wide variety of settings and will work in churches of any size. In each experience we’ve included step-by-step instructions for creating an environment for worship as well as ideas for maximizing each experience by going all out with props, set designs, lighting, and music. You can elaborate on our ideas or pare them down. It’s up to you!
The blueprints also appeal to a wide range of teaching and planning styles. Some are quite detailed and include scripts and messages that can be used verbatim, while others offer broad brushstrokes for message preparation and worship-service planning. We’re confident that you’ll find an approach that appeals to you in these pages.
Use the accompanying CD-ROM to augment the Worship Blueprints. The CD-ROM provides tools that will help you prepare as well as execute the worship plans in this book. For example, we’ve provided scripts, invitations, instructions, and commitment cards that you can download and print for all the people who will be helping to prepare your worship services. To help in the execution, we’ve provided videos, colorful graphics, PowerPoint presentations, and lyrics to songs that are in the public domain. We’ve also provided sound eff ects that can be played on a CD player or a boombox. You may also play them from your computer if you have soft ware that allows you to play music CDs.
Look for this icon in the book to show you the points at which the CD-ROM intersects with the text. Because types of media equipment and technology vary so widely among churches, we’ve made each component of the CD-ROM as adaptable as possible to diff erent church settings.
For example, our PowerPoint presentations are offered in two formats: One is intended for churches with Visual Projection Units (VPUs) that can project PowerPoint presentations; the other is off ered as a series of individual, text-only slides that can be downloaded and printed on transparencies for projection through an overhead projector.
In addition, we’ve provided text fi les (RTF) of lyrics in the public domain so you can manipulate those fi les for use in your own PowerPoint or Media Shout presentations or simply download and print them for projection through an overhead projector.
All the text components of the CD-ROM may be downloaded and photocopied for local church use.
Be sure to read the “Read Me” fi le on the CD-ROM to facilitate your use of this product with your church’s electronic equipment.
If you have questions on the technical aspect of any item on the CD-ROM, please feel free to contact Group’s technical support staff by calling 1-800-635-0404, extension 4414, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mountain Time.
Don’t forget licensing requirements. In several Worship Blueprints, we suggest that you show short clips from popular movies. In general, federal copyright laws do not allow you to use videos or DVDs (even ones you own) for any purpose other than home viewing. Th ough some exceptions allow for the use of short segments of copyrighted material for educational purposes, it’s best to be on the safe side. Your church can obtain a license from Christian Video Licensing for a small fee. Just visit www.cvli.org or call 1-888-302-6020 for more information.
When using a movie that is not covered by the license, we recommend directly contacting the movie studio to seek permission to use the clip.
In addition, most of the songs that are not in the public domain that we suggest using in these Worship Blueprints are covered by Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI).
If your church does not currently have a license with CCLI, take a look at this organization’s Web site, www.ccli.com, to find out how to obtain one.
Rehearse! After you’ve decided on a Worship Blueprint and adapted it to your church’s unique setting, be sure to provide your technical team with instructions outlining technical cues for lighting, sound, projected images, and video changes. This will prevent miscues and unintended pauses that disrupt the emotional flow of the service and make it difficult for people to fully engage in worship.
We’re excited by the possibilities inherent in experiential worship services, and we pray that these Worship Blueprints will help people open their hearts to God and grow closer to him.