By Rev. Dr. Mark A. Slaughter
Vibrant Faith Coaching Team
Like all things we do week after week, our worship service can become methodical, formulaic, and uninspiring. A busy, “over-served” schedule drives us into a rut. Worship is deeply connected to our Spiritual formation, but that truth gets lost in the repetition. So, what if we planted two new questions in our worship planning activities: “How is our worship time leading to deeper connectivity and intimacy with the Spirit of God?” and “What is being formed in our congregation through this worship service?” in other words, can we consider worship as spiritual formation? Yes!
Let’s explore ways your congregation can focus their planning to inspire spiritual formation, to fuel a trajectory towards spiritual growth and wholeness.
Here are three ways to get started in framing worship as spiritual formation:
- Intentionality: This may seem obvious, but we need to be intentional in creating moments in worship that are connected to our vision of spiritual formation. As you are designing your worship, pursue moments that provide space for worshipers to connect deeply with the Spirit. Consider providing time for people to pray, not just leading them in prayer but intentional times and prompts for prayer. Or invite people into a response by providing questions to ponder, then share with the person next to them. Think of small, medium, or large steps they can take to respond to the worship theme.
- Collaborate: The word “liturgy” means “the work of the people”—so, if you are planning worship alone you are limiting the scope of worship and the power of collaboration. Driven by necessity, churches often default to having musicians plan the music and pastors plan the sermons—and never the twain shall meet. Avoid silos in your planning and come together as a team to cultivate your worship planning in such a way that you broaden your perspective and encourage one another in the creative process. One way to do this is to develop a worship planning team that meets together monthly to look for creative ways to plan your worship services. I’ve done this kind of planning for years. One benefit is that you will create energy and excitement as your teams see their ideas come to life in worship.
- Evaluate: Worship is not complete after the service is over. Time spent evaluating worship is always helpful and allows you to ask the question: “Did our worship design accomplish what we intended?” Be curious about the experience of the worshippers. If someone says, “Great worship today!” ask the question: “What made it great for you today?” You can also do a quarterly survey and ask folks to provide feedback on their worship experiences. Your ability to improve worship that leads to spiritual transformation is dependent on your willingness to evaluate and receive ongoing feedback.
Much of our faith life is formed in and through worship. As worship leaders and curators, let’s be intentional about developing worship that speaks to our congregation and fosters life-giving transformational worship. Worship that sets the stage for spiritual formation is always intentional.
Rev. Dr. Mark Slaughter serves as the Minister of Worship Arts at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN. In addition to his 35+ years of ministry, he received a Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary, Master of Divinity and Church Music from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Bachelor of Music from Belmont University.