I have been involved in worship since my conversion, and through the years I have often been asked to lead a time of worship. As a drummer who doesn’t play what is considered a front lead instrument, I have had to come up with some creative worship service ideas in order to get the job done.
I’m a big fan of music in worship, but through these experiences, I have discovered that singing songs from the front is not the only way to lead people into the presence of God.
Singing songs — is it the only way?
In 2011, I was doing my School of Worship with YWAM in Montana, USA. During the school, we were asked to lead worship and when my turn came I had to come up with some ideas since my singing is not amazing and I just felt to do something different with my worship service ideas.
During the school, we discovered different ways we could lead people into worship. Since worship is a response to God, as long as we can get that reaction, we will be doing a good job. So, I believe sometimes if the context allows it, why not try new ways to do a creative liturgy.
I’m sure that many people would love to experience God in a new way; this opens up their minds.
By using all of our senses we allow God to speak to us in different ways.
I believe it’s good to challenge ourselves to hear or feel God in different ways, even if we will always be more confident in what naturally relates to us.
This is why if we do try to lead people in different ways we should consider that not everybody is sensitive to the same sense; incorporating more stimulations can make the difference.
It really helps to create an environment where people can concentrate on God. Our job is to facilitate the connection between God and His people, just as we would do in a singing session. If the people will connect with Him or not, mainly depends on the relationship that they have with Him, and on how their mind is able to engage with our Beloved. So once the encounter has happened, our job is mostly done. It doesn’t depend on us anymore.
Ways of communication
There are many tools that can be helpful in our creative worship service by stimulating the hearts of people and help them to focus on God so they may worship Him.
We can use:
- Scripture – It is always good to have some scripture in any kind of worship session. Having a “Lectio-Divina” where people could meditate on a passage.
- Visual components – Utilizing visual elements will stimulate people especially those who are more visual, and there are many.
- Perfume and incenses – Some of us have some bad reactions when we think of incense, since we may connect it with eastern religions. Actually, it’s also frequently used in Christian ceremonies — just think of a Catholic service. It was even given as a present at Jesus’s birth.
- Background music – it’s good to have some background music because it helps to create an atmosphere.
Creating the atmosphere
Understanding where God wants to take the people is key in order to prepare appropriately and have a good liturgy — perhaps an unusual one, but it’s still a liturgy. With our creative worship service ideas, I suggest guiding the people through steps where they can have different sensorial experiences. For clarity, I will make an example.
We could have a room where we use a screen (a projector or any kind of TV screen), other visual elements placed in the room (they need to be related to the topic that has been chosen), speakers, Bibles, incense, and some bread and wine to finish.
Let’s say we have felt that the theme of the session is overcoming fear. We could start by having the visual elements already placed in the room, with incense burning (keep in mind not everybody likes it), and some instrumental music playing at low volume.
We could then do an introduction by reading scripture and giving some encouraging verses to meditate on (Lectio Divina). These can be projected on a screen or read using Bibles. Give some time to meditate and allow God to speak, then move on to the next part.
Encourage people to move throughout the room and experience the visual elements that have been placed in the room. If we want to, we can perform some actions which represent what God wants to say during that time; for example, the participants could write down on a piece of paper the fears they know they are struggling with, and then place them before some symbolic representation of an altar before God. In this phase, you can be very creative.
At this point, you could close by having communion together in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice and then pray for and encourage one another.
Creative worship service ideas – the right environment
I would suggest not to use this kind of format everywhere. Not that there is anything bad about it, but not everybody could understand it. I would recommend starting in a place where you know the majority of the people well and you know that they have a good relationship with God.
It could work in different contexts, small or big environments, but I would not use it for every Sunday service; maybe if there is a special spiritual retreat since people are already prepared to receive from God in a special way. You could use it in a cell group or as a sensorial workshop.
I recommend using any kind of new format in a place where people are most likely able to receive it.
Always be a blessing
Being a blessing and loving people is always the way. My advice is to have creative worship service ideas and experiment with new ways of worshipping God. Being creative is a part of God’s nature and character.
However, we need to remember that if the message doesn’t get delivered, there is no point making the effort. I believe God wants to open our minds, but we need to be sensitive to the timing and consider if the people are ready for it. Doing a service in an extravagant way just to prove something will provoke misunderstanding and could lead to conflict.
Our purpose always has to be to bless people. In order to take them to a new place, we need to start from where they are. By doing a service with this kind of attitude, we may get surprised at how much people can open up to new things even when they aren’t used to them.
I hope you have enjoyed this article. Please leave a comment or any questions below.
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